Keeping Your Cat Safe in the Garden by fosterer Gerry Horrox

We own 6 cats of our own, one of which is a Bengal with the reputation of being a notorious escape artist never to be seen again, so we had to do something to protect him. We had recently lost 2 cats which were run over in our quiet close by speeding neighbours and that was an additional reason to secure the garden as we had been confining the cats to the house.

Ten years ago we researched various versions of cat fences of which there were very few in those days, and we finally decided to employ a company who provided bird netting.
We split the garden into 2 sections and erected a fence across it with a gate for access to the lower part and the company came into the top section and built the netting support poles and the fixing brackets round the edge on the fence and on the house wall with tensioned wire joining it all together. They covered it with a huge sheet of netting using hog rings to attach it to the wire round the edges and made an excellent job of it.

We could now let the cats out again and the first thing we found out was they loved looking over into other gardens. They were climbing the fences and hanging from the netting to look over, so I built a number of shelves attached to the fences with ladders for access which caused lots of amusement and solved the problem. There was also interest in the tall poles and as they were quite substantial, I covered them with rope and fitted seats around 7 feet from the ground and these are very popular in the sunny weather.

In 10 years, we have only had one escape and that was the Bengal, through a hole in the corner where the squirrels had decided to eat the netting. As soon as he was recovered, I fitted wire netting around that corner and had no problems since.

It has also allowed us to let crazy foster cats out into the garden after we bring our cats in, which has been useful a number of times.

Most people do not notice the netting and it has the advantage of stopping leaves from the surrounding trees from falling into our garden allowing the wind to blow them back from whence they came.

The pictures should be self-explanatory, showing the shelves and general views including the cat's Wendy house which also acts as a shelf.

Sadly, the company we used closed down a few years ago, but if you are interested in doing something similar, you are quite welcome to come and visit or talk to me. You can contact me at

Bird netting is available on the web and there are various other systems you can look at:

The following Article has been provided by Catwork -

We hope that this article will encourage more people to consider giving a home to a cat who has tested positive for FIV.

TVAW have recently fostered several FIV cats, they all came to us a bit down on their luck, but thankfully have gone on to become loving pets and living normal lives with understanding people

It was back in 1997 that we were introduced to Harry, a very nervous ginger and white stray cat who, we were told, had tested positive for FIV. This was the first we had heard of the virus (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). Little did we know at the time, but Harry was to completely change our lives!
Back then, FIV had only been known about for around ten years, and all the information about the virus came from scientific studies where cats were artificially infected in the laboratory with large amounts of a very strong strain of the virus. This process gave the cats little chance to deal with the virus and, understandably, threw up extreme reactions. The results were recorded as "evidence-based" information for what to expect from the virus.
Due to this, there was much fear surrounding FIV cats which led to very many positive testing cats being put to sleep.
With this background we took in Harry with some trepidation, wondering what to expect - long story short, Harry lived a very happy and healthy life with us for the next eight years needing no more than a dental in that time.
Through those years we were asked to take on many more FIV-positive cats who would otherwise have been put to sleep. This was the foundation of the Catwork sanctuary which, over the last 22 years, has cared for well over 100 FIV-positive cats for the rest of their lives -Thanks Harry!
Contrary to expectation, we found that, even cats who came to us in a poor state, soon recovered. With just normal treatment, care and good food; they became fit and healthy, and remained so for years. We did not find any of the scare stories about FIV to be what we experienced with our FIV-positive cats.
Through our experience of caring for these cats, we have learned that those early studies are completely unrepresentative of what actually happens to naturally infected FIV-positive cats in normal life. The evidence of real experience was overturning the old laboratory evidence.
Over the years, general attitudes towards FIV have changed. Learning from the experience of FIV-positive cats being allowed to live out their natural lives, rescue groups began to realise that having FIV was not a death sentence, but just a bit of an inconvenience. Homing of FIV cats has grown enormously since the early days.
Sadly, there are still some vets and rescues who have not yet accepted the realities of the virus, so we felt we needed to provide more real-life evidence of the true effects of FIV. We also wanted to be sure that our personal experience was not unusual, so we set up a study in 2014 to record the experience of many individual owners/carers of FIV-positive cats across the world. We wanted to hear their experiences in their own words.
Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, we named the study the "1,000 FIV cats project", not being sure how many we would really get to respond - suffice it to say that, as I write (July 2019) we have over 950 FIV-positive cats listed on the project from all over the world, with more still being added. This, together with our own 100+ cats, makes the total well over the 1,000 mark.
We were pleased to see that the experience of others was very similar to our own. The responses of these individuals who care for FIV-positive cats has built into a powerful database of real-life experience; far outweighing the old laboratory-based studies.
The results of this on-going project are available for anyone to see on the website ( but, to summarise the important points:
  • The vast majority of FIV-positive cats live good healthy lives with no discernible illness due to the FIV - completely healthy for over 65% of the recorded time, and other minor ailments cleared up quickly with normal treatment - just like any other cat.
  • There are no illnesses that can be identified as 'common' with FIV+ cats - most frequent are mouth/teeth issues - just like most other cats.
  • Well over 500 (582 as of July 2019) cats on the project have lived in households together with uninfected cats, with not a single reported transmission of the virus.
There are a few things one needs to understand about FIV:
  1. - Although the virus does cause a reduction in some of the immune system's cells, this happens so slowly that most cats live out their full lives before the cells are reduced sufficiently to be a problem for the cat's health. Note - If only the virus had been more accurately named: Feline ImmunoStaysStrongForYears Virus, perhaps then there would have been less misunderstanding of its effect - not serious, but you get the point!
  2. - Most vets don't see many FIV-positive cats, but those they do see are often brought in as strays, in poor condition. When they test positive for FIV, vets often associate their poor condition with being FIV+, whereas in reality, their poor condition is due to their time as a stray with malnutrition and untreated wounds etc. Once given good treatment, they quickly recover from their ailments and continue as healthy cats - still FIV-positive, but showing that the virus was not the cause of their earlier poor condition.
  3. - The virus is realistically only transmitted by serious fights, when the virus in the saliva is actually injected through the skin into contact with the blood stream. The idea that FIV can be transmitted without fighting has no evidence to support it, and it is not experienced with the hundreds of positive cats living happily with uninfected cats - in practice, it just doesn't happen.
  4. - The virus is mainly spread by FIV-positive, un-neutered male stray cats who have to fight to survive, passing on the virus as they do. The majority of cats who test positive for FIV have been the victims of a few aggressive strays; they were just unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once a cat is rescued, neutered and provided with a good food supply, it has no reason to fight, and usually becomes a calm, loving pet - many report that their FIV-positive cats are the most affectionate cats they have known!
The outlook for FIV-positive cats living in normal cat-loving homes, with or without other cats, really is positive! - listen to the 1000 cats and their carers recorded on the project - they can't all be wrong!
Please consider giving a home to an FIV-positive cat - they deserve homes just like other cats.
For more detailed information, and links to the project results, visit: (Article provided by Catwork -
Our low cost neutering scheme is open to people on low incomes, particularly pensioners and those in receipt of benefit who would not otherwise be able to afford to have their cat neutered.

If you live in and around the Reading, Maidenhead, Henley-on-Thames or Wokingham area and think that you might qualify for financial help, or if you know of someone who might do so, please contact us on 0118 9472855. The scheme is very straightforward and arrangements can be made very easily. Read more about our scheme
Cats often go missing, but in many cases return home after a few days of adventure. If you cat is missing there are a few things you can do to help try and find them:
  • Microchip your cat and remember to keep your contact details up to date if you move
  • Check thoroughly around your property in case your cat has got stuck or is hiding
  • Let your neighbours know your cat is missing and ask them to check sheds, garages, outbuildings etc
  • Post a photo and short description of your cat on local lost & found Facebook and social media groups
  • Put a photo of your cat and your contact details on a poster or flyer and display in your area
  • Look for them at night when it is quieter and you might be able to hear mewing
  • Ring the local vets in case they have had a cat handed into them
  • Register your lost pet with TVAW - ring Anna on 07474 545457
The mother's purr is crucial to survival as kittens are born deaf and blind, but are able to feel vibrations. It is the vibrations of the mother's purr that leads the kittens to her body for nursing and warmth. At the age of 2 weeks kittens start to purr and this starts the communication with their mother and siblings. It is a means of letting their mother know that all is well, she in turn purrs to let her kittens know that she is also content and relaxed. Kittens press and flex their paws, which is known as kneading, to stimulate milk flow and they typically purr at the same time. This behaviour is often carried on into their adult lives, and is associated with them feeling safe and content.

Cats however purr for a variety of reasons and not all of them mean contentment. They may use purring for self-soothing, when they are nervous, unsure, sick, in pain (such as when in labour) or even when close to death. Although the true cause in unknown, it is believed that it may be a means of calming themselves or even promoting healing.

Scientists have known for a while now that vibrations at specific frequency levels can promote healing. Remarkably, a cat's purr vibrates at this level, so it could be that purring during resting is a form of physical therapy to keep the cat's bones strong and promote healing. Amazing!
TVAW fosterer, Chris: A terrified Albert arrived in my cat house last November, after being noticed living rough for around 4 months. He was a large, unneutered, ginger tom and despite his rather shabby, dejected appearance it was obvious that underneath was a magnificent pussy cat.

Albert spent a few days anxiously hiding, but soon settled into the cat house and appeared exhausted and relieved to be somewhere warm and safe where food (which he ate with great gusto) and company (he loved being brushed and fussed) appeared at regular intervals. However, it soon became apparent that he was in some pain and at his check up the vets confirmed that his mouth and teeth were in a very poor state and some serious dental work was required.

During his first operation, he was neutered, some teeth were taken out and a large growth was also removed from his mouth which was a result of his poor health. It was decided that he should also be tested for FIV which sadly proved to be positive. More surgery however was required to remove further teeth and throughout all these visits, examinations and check-ups, Albert behaved impeccably. The vets and nurses who came in contact with him thought he was adorable.

Three successful operations later and thanks to the care and expertise of the amazing staff at Henley Veterinary Centre, Albert has only a few precious teeth left, but is pain free and in good health! Albert's appetite is still amazing and although a bit of a messy eater, he still loves his food! As cats with FIV can be difficult to home, I was delighted when Jeanette came to meet him with her daughter Lucy, and decided he was the one for them. I am grateful that they have been able to offer him an inside home with the love and care he deserves.

Jeanette and Lucy were so patient waiting for Albert to be given a clean bill of health and while he was recuperating they visited him and Lucy even sent him a card and presents through the post! There are some cats that have a very special place in my heart, and Albert is one of them. I wish him a long and happy life with Jeannette and Lucy.

Albert's new owner, Lucy aged 11:

In April 2017, our old cat Charlie died. He was black and white and he gave lovely hugs and he was very old; we had looked after him since I was 6 months (I am 11 years old now). We were so sad after he died and it took a while to get used to not having a cat in the house. It was sad not having a friendly feline there when you come home from work or school. We looked everywhere for cats but nowhere had cats that were right for us. We must have an indoor cat as we don't have any garden for it to mark its territory in. Every time we thought we found a cat it either wasn't right or available. I missed having cat hugs so much and we nearly went a whole year without one!

One day we were talking to our friends and telling them that we still couldn't find a cat. They suggested a local animal charity called Thames Valley Animal Welfare. So, we phoned up and arranged to visit a white and ginger cat called Albert. We had a look at him on the website and he was so cute and adorable. When we visited him, he was the most chilled and friendly cat I had ever seen! He was so soft and cuddly; he seemed

to like us. Chris explained everything he went through about living rough and having lots of surgery on his teeth and we felt so sorry for him! He was a lovely cat and we decided he was the cat for us. We waited a couple of weeks for him as he had to have some surgery on his teeth but we visited him lots in his little cat house (he also received lots of presents from us!).

Now that he was a lot better and on the road to recovery, we rehomed him and realised he was worth the wait. He was a little nervous at first and he hid under the bed for a few days as he was in a new environment but afterwards he came out of his shell and was the most playful and delightful cat! He loves his scratching post and enjoys playing with his big box of toys! He also likes being stroked and curls up with us on the sofa; he even sits on our chests whilst we are in bed!

Everyone that visits him says he is the most beautiful and relaxed cat! He pokes his tongue out a lot and it is so cute. He is our little ginger boy and we love him to bits. Thank you TVAW for rehoming us with such an amazing, beautiful cat!

Microchips are implantable computer chips that are encoded with a unique id number which can be read when scanned by a vet or an animal rescue charity. They are roughly the size of a grain of rice placed under a cat's skin. They do not irritate the cat and unlike a disc on a collar they are not going to fall off.

Cats do roam and often adopt friendly neighbours (particularly the well-meaning ones who provide some tasty food!), often these neighbours will make some checks with a charity such as TVAW whether the cat has been reported lost.

We were recently informed about a stray cat in the Reading area which had for some time been fed by a kind lady and she wondered whether we could check whether the cat was microchipped. One of our volunteers went out to scan the cat and found he was registered to a family in Reading. We have access to the microchip companies' database and were able to contact the owners even though they were away holiday at the time. They were overjoyed to hear that we had found their beloved 'Dash' and amazed as he had been missing for 18 months! Shirley, one of our fosterers looked after him until the owners returned from their holiday. We have since heard he is doing very well and happy to be home!

At TVAW will never re-home a cat without first scanning for a microchip and making every effort to reunite the cat with its owner. There are some breeds of cat that are vulnerable to being stolen. Vets will also scan the cat whenever a cat is treated. If the microchip records do not match up with the details of the person who has taken the cat to the surgery, then the vets will make enquiries like we do.

The cost of microchipping is not expensive and we certainly believe the benefits merit the expense. You can update the information details registered with the microchip company and if you forget which company you registered with, then a quick scan will allow you to identify the database. You will also have the option to use the microchip as a means to operate a microchip sensitive cat flap which is very useful should you be prone to visits by other local cats - they may be eating your cat's food, or they may be bullies!

We hope this highlights the importance and benefit of having your pets microchipped and encourage everyone to do so.