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Cat lover Jean Gilbert has been inundated with abandoned cats and kittens this year as the recession continues to scratch away at people’s finances. Grandmother and owner of Cat Rescue in Chippenham, Mrs Gilbert, of Sadler’s Mead, said the charity re-homed 262 cats and kittens last year and expects to re-home a similar number this year. She said: “We have had another extremely busy year. We tend to have about 50 cats with us at any one time. “It is really bad at the moment, and we have had a lot of bad cases brought to us this year because of the financial situation, people are just abandoning their cats. All the centres are full and people feel they have no other option. “I always take their names and numbers and ring them as soon as I have spaces.” Retired Mrs Gilbert and husband Harry first adopted a kitten named Elliott from a cat rescue home 20 years ago. They had him until he died 18 years later. Mrs Gilbert said: “I told the rescue home if they ever needed any help to let me know and it sort of snowballed from there really. “Harry doesn’t mind it at all. It is like a full time job really as it keeps me busy 365 days of the year. “I spend about an hour every morning with the cats, feeding them, clearing out their litter trays and playing with them. You get to know all their dietary requirements and what types of food they all like.” Mrs Gilbert gets through dozens of tins of cat food on a daily basis, with just one cat and her kittens getting through six cans a day. She said: “I do really enjoy it, and you get used to all the work, but coming outside to feed them in the freezing cold weather like we have been having isn’t very nice.” Mrs Gilbert, who has three cats of her own, Chula, Skye and Thalia, has seen 1,429 cats and kittens pass through her home in the past 20 years. She has eight foster mothers dotted around Wiltshire who also care for the cats. Anyone who thinks they could give a cat or kitten a suitable home or would like to help the charity can contact Mrs Gilbert on (01249) 65344 or visit www.cat-rescue1.co.uk

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DOZENS of cats face an uncertain 2008 as they see out the festive season at Chippenham's only feline rescue centre. Although the Cat Rescue charity, based in Monkton Park, finds homes for 200 cats a year, five cats are turned away each day because of lack of space. The volunteer run charity was set up by Jean Gilbert 20-years ago and has re-homed nearly 4,000 cats and kittens since it opened. Mrs Gilbert, who has converted her home in Sadlers Mead to accommodate the animals, has said that more cats than ever are being handed in. She said: "Each year we have to find homes for more and more cats and it's heartbreaking when we have to turn some away. "We are always busy but more people come in with strays at this time of year because it is so cold. "The main problem we have is a lot of the cats are old or have health problems and many people see that as a reason not to re-home them. "Each cat has its own needs - some need an indoor home, some need a quiet home and some need lots of love and cuddles. "At one time this year we had 25 kittens in all at the same time and they were here for months before we could find them new homes." The group has two main bases in Chippenham as well as a host of temporary foster homes throughout the county. The charity provides food, shelter and full veterinary treatment for all of the stray and abandoned cats. They run purely on charitable donations and money raised through car boot sales throughout the year. Among the cats that currently need homes are ten-month old Sophie and her 14-week old son Simon, both friendly black and white tabby cats. There is also Albert, an eight-year old moggy who loves to be petted and shown attention. Eighteen-month-old brothers Sammy and Tommy are also looking for a home, but must be taken as a pair. Mrs Gilbert believes that the Christmas and New Year period are the busiest times of year because she refuses to let cats go as Christmas presents. She said: "Cats are a responsibility for 24-hours a day, 365 days a year and people cannot just have one on a part-time basis. "I hope that 2008 brings prosperity for all of our cats and that they all find homes where they will be loved and cared for." Anyone interested in re-homing a cat or volunteering at the centre should contact Mrs Gilbert on 01249 653 443 or log onto www.cat-rescue1.co.uk.
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Vet Gill Mullen took up the challenge of a lifetime by scaling one side of the Grand Canyon to the other in a bid to raise money for a cash-strapped Chippenham cat sanctuary. Mrs Mullen, 49, who lives in The Lay, Box, with her husband Joe and two children Kate, 21, and Nick, 20, managed to raise more than £800 for the Cat Rescue centre after taking part in the walk, which is the equivalent distance of a marathon. Mrs Mullen, who has worked at the Hale Veterinary Surgery for more than 20 years, decided to take up the challenge after seeing the hard work of the volunteers when she adopted her two cats Jack and Fizz. She said: “It was hard work and the altitude of the walk made it very tough indeed. “I got involved with the cat charity after I became their regular vet and then nine years ago I adopted my two cats from there. “They do such a wonderful job there and are always in need of more donations.” The cat rescue charity, based in Monkton Park with other homes at Lacock and Rowde, relies wholly on donations from the public. Jean Stone, who runs the charity, said they are taking in more cats as the recession continues. She said: “We are getting more cats in as people are forced to move in rented accommodation and can’t take pets or afford to have them neutered so they have unwanted kittens.” Anyone wishing to make a donation should call Jean Gilbert on (01249) 653443. or log onto www.cat-rescue1.co.uk.
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Skippy, the survivor from Etchilhampton is cute kitten was saved after it was found abandoned in an industrial yard. The bedraggled six-week-old cat was close to death when it was discovered at Wiltshire Waste Recycling at Monument Hill near Etchilhampton on Friday. Despite losing one of its legs it is recovering well at the home of Julie Morris, near Rowde. She looks after cats and kittens for the local charity Cat Rescue. HGV driver Pete Barnett took it to Mrs Morris after a colleague found it in a pile of wood chippings in the yard. He said: “It was in a sorry state. Had it been there another day it would not have made it. We often have feral cats in the yard but this is tame.” Mrs Morris took the kitten to Hales vets in Chippenham. It had a serious injury to its back left leg, which had to be amputated. Mrs Morris, who has named the kitten Skippy as it was initially thought that it had been inside a skip, said: “He was really lethargic and cold. He was so exhausted, I really thought it was going to be a lost cause. He must have been in a huge amount of pain. “He is a beautiful little boy, he is ever so fluffy. When I picked him up from the vet’s he was bounding about.” Mr Barnett, 58, who lives in Mildenhall and has three cats, is going to adopt him. He said: “I don’t like to see animals suffer.” Jean Gilbert, of Chippenham, who founded Cat Rescue 20 years ago, said: “We have over 70 cats and kittens looking for a home. This is the busiest we have been since we started. There seems to be so many cats being dumped

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Cecil the Devizes cat saved by a whisker When Cecil the cat was discovered in February, he was close to death. He had been a stray for a long time and had suffered in the winter freeze. His fur was matted and he was on the point of starvation. Cecil was found in Devizes and taken to Macqueen Veterinary Centre at Hopton Park, Devizes. From there, he was passed on to the Chippenham-based charity, Cat Rescue. One of its volunteers, Julie Morris, is now looking after Cecil at her home in Sells Green. She said: “I was quite horrified. He had not been fed and people had locked their cat flaps to stop him coming in, so he was quite literally starving.” Subsequently he had to have all of his teeth removed except one. His throat was also scarred and sore from the things he had been trying to eat while scavenging. However, since he was taken in by Cat Rescue, Cecil, who is believed to be aged anywhere between nine and 15, is improving rapidly. Mrs Morris said “Healthwise he’s coming on leaps and bounds. He’s got a belly on him. He’s a proper little rascal and he’s really relishing food.” Cat Rescue was set up in 1972 by animal lover Jean Gilbert, of Sadlers Mead, Chippenham. However, in all those years they have never been as inundated with cats as they are now. They are currently looking after 35 cats with an ever-extending waiting list. Mrs Morris said: “We do our best, but sometimes it’s just not enough. We haven’t got the space, they sleep in my bedroom when it’s needed. We urgently need good homes for cats including older cats and timid cats.” Cats are often just dumped by their owners as they can no longer afford to keep them due to insurance and expensive vet bills. If you can offer a cat a home ring (01249) 653443 or visit www.cat-rescue1.co.uk
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Once again our rescue group has had its busiest year ever. The situation for cats just seems to get worse and worse, with more and more cats than ever being abandoned and as is so often the case these cats are also not spayed or neutered, because of this the situation can only get worse year after year. We are always full to overflowing and yet we still have a long waiting list. Each time we home a cat we immediately take in the most urgent case from our ever growing waiting list. On many occasions we end up with urgent cases being placed in a foster mum's spare bedroom or anywhere in the house that is suitable. Each year we re-home over 250 cats and kittens and always have around 70 cats in at any one time. This year the cats and kittens do seem to be with us longer before finding a new home. We are also finding we are getting calls from much further away i.e. Salisbury, Bristol and Bath and a lot from Swindon. People who are desperate and can find no help where they live try further afield, we are a small group but much bigger rescue groups are giving out our number to people needing help with ill and injured strays etc. We have had many distressing cases needing urgent vet treatment. Due to the recession and therefore family financial situations more and more people are moving into rented properties and for some reason landlords will not allow them to take their cats. This is causing us huge problems. We also find a lot of younger people get kittens from friends because they are so sweet and cuddly, with no thought of the cost involved. Vet bills, booster jabs, neutering or spaying come as a huge shock and as a result the kittens are often abandoned or they ring us when they are swamped with kittens. Also many people think they can make money from selling kittens but when they find they have no one to sell them to they are then abandoned. This year we have had a bigger problem with kittens than previous years, well over 50 in at any one time all through the summer months. We have had 33 kittens from one garden alone! That all started because one pair of cats were not spayed, we took from the same house 9 adult cats which all had to be neutered and spayed and 15 of the older kittens also had to be spayed and neutered. As we are just a small group we have to do our own fundraising as well as look after the cats. I do a stall for 3 days in the craft marquee at the Chippenham folk festival at the end of May and we have 2 big stalls at the Lacock village fair on August Bank Holiday Monday. We also do other stalls and car boot sales throughout the year. We have a number of kind people who are a great help to us. One lady makes us 100's of cards to sell on our stalls and on vets counters etc. She is grateful for old cards and calendars; these can be put in one of Cat Rescues food donation bins. We also have another lady who makes beautiful cards and ladies who knit or crochet lovely warm cat blankets. We are as always very grateful to the kind people who give us cat food from time to time. As usual we have a large number of lovely cats looking for kind loving homes. As mentioned earlier our waiting list with many urgent cases never gets any shorter as there are more and more cats each year in need of help. Of course the more cats we take in the more our vet bill grows! We are so grateful to all the kind people who give homes to our cats and to the caring people who help us in various ways.

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All donations go towards the care and treatment of the cats we take in

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