By Ann Evans

More than 10 million cat owners in the UK know how important their pet is to them and recognise the love and companionship their pet gives them.


Many of these are rescue cats who through no fault of their own had ended up lost or unwanted. Fortunately for them, Cats Protection, the UK’s largest feline welfare charity has come to the rescue, providing them with new homes – hopefully for life.


The charity is now in its 85th year and continues to strive to achieve its vision which is to create a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.


Fundamentally Cats Protection has three aims: To find good homes for cats in need; to support and encourage the neutering of cats; to improve peoples understanding of cats and their care.


Without their army of volunteers, the charity could not survive.   One such volunteer is Esther Newton of Newbury. Esther helps with the newsletter and is a socialiser. Esther said, “We’ve always been a family of cat lovers. My mother had rescue cats from Cats Protection, and my daughter is very interested in the charity’s work.”




It was after going to a CP Open Day when her daughter, aged around ten at the time won an art competition. They went along to receive the prize and learned all about the work of being a socialiser. The family gave it a try and have never looked back.

Later, Esther was at the Newbury centre when two kittens were brought in – Ebb and Flo. Both had disabilities with their paws not formed properly. Esther’s daughter fell in love with them. Sadly Flo had too many complications and could not be saved.


“We were heartbroken,” said Esther. “The staff and everyone were totally heartbroken.” But happily Esther adopted the surviving kitten, gave him the new name of Morris – and a loving new home.


She added, “He settled in easily and doesn’t let his disability affect him at all. He gets on really well with our other two cats. In fact his cheeky personality is bringing out the character of our rescue cat, Joe, who was a bit reserved.”


“Being a volunteer for Cats Protection is really worthwhile,” added Esther. “It’s fantastic when you spend time with a cat or kitten and see how their character develops, it’s just so rewarding. If you are a cat lover and have the time to spare then I’d certainly recommend becoming a volunteer for Cats Protection.”


Kittens in basket

Kittens in basket


The importance of neutering

Despite us being a nation of animal lovers there are thousands of unwanted and stray cats and unwanted litters of kittens. And a major problem is that even though Cats Protection help to neuter over 170,000 cats each year, thousands of cat owners still neglect to have their pet neutered or spayed which results in even more unwanted cats.


Since it’s humble beginnings in the 1920s the charity has continued to grow and expand. To date well over a million cats have found new homes; thousands of strays have been reunited with their anxious owners; and tens of thousands of cats have been microchipped and neutered. Plus thousands of cat owners on low incomes have benefited through Cats Protection’s neutering and microchipping schemes.


Today the charity continues to be hugely grateful for its army of volunteers, fundraisers and people who have given donations of money and items to their charity shops without whom they could not continue the good work they do.


Check out their website to learn more about their work. There’s also a section for parents, teachers and children that provides information, fun activities for children of all ages and free teaching resources for early years through to secondary education. And you can read more heart warming stories in their National Cat Awards 2014.




History of the Cats Protection.

Up to the mid 1920 cats weren’t considered to be the companion animals they are today. Thousands were subjected to cruelty, neglect and starvation and regarded as animals that could look after themselves.


Following an outbreak of rabies in 1923, the laws regarding the importing of animals were tightened which resulted in a shortage of pedigree cats. Cat breeders unable to indulge in the hobby of breeding the likes of pedigree Persians and Siamese turned their attention to the common moggie and were shocked to see how non-pedigree cats were treated.


At a meeting in Caxton Hall, London, on May 26 1927, they decided something had to be done to educate society and raise the status of the cat. They formed the Cats Protection League.


Stalwarts of the League were Miss Jessey Wade who chaired the meeting and a Mr Steward of Slough who with the help of a few friends, would ride around the town on his bicycle with two cat baskets fastened to the front, rescuing stray cats.


Slough became the centre point of the new league and a bank account was opened with one pound five shillings. Mr Steward became the first General Secretary whose great ambition was to create a clinic where sick, injured and stray cats could be treated.


Cat in carrier

Cat in carrier

In 1931 Miss Wade established The Cats Mews Sheet, priced at one penny which further promoted the cause and united its members. Then in 1935 the League received a legacy gift of Prestbury Lodge in Slough which became the first headquarters and clinic for the Cats Protection League.


During the war years the clinic continued to work on a limited scale and appeals for donations were made leading to the Tailwavers scheme.


With careful use of money the CPL grew and today is the oldest and largest feline welfare charity. In 1998 it changed its name to Cats Protection with a new logo and branding, but keeping it aims of finding good homes for cats in need; supporting and encouraging the neutering of cats; improving people’s understanding of cats and their care.


You can read the full history of Cats Protection on their website:


Cats Protection facts and figures

  • There are over 10 million owned cats in the UK.
  • Cats Protection microchips around 39,000 cats every year.
  • Cats Protection has over 250 volunteer-run branches nationwide.
  • The charity has over 8,500 active volunteers.
  • There are 29 Cats Protection adoption centres around the UK run by a mixture of staff and volunteers.
  • Cats Protection help to neuter over 170,000 cats each year.
  • Around 46,000 cats and kittens are re-homed or reunited with owners each year.
  • Over 6,200 cats and kittens are in the care of Cats protection at any one time.
  • Cats Protection never put a healthy cat to sleep.
  • In 2012 Cats Protection rehomed its one millionth cat!


Tortie in cabin

Tortie in cabin


The National Cat Centre is set in 51 acres of the beautiful Ashdown Forest in Sussex. The site is home to the Cats Protection administration offices, the National Cat Adoption Centre, a state-of-the-art veterinary centre and a visitors’ centre.

The centre also has a two kilometre nature trail, perfect for families, school children and nature lovers.


You can help

Cats Protection rely solely on the generosity and kindness of the public to enable them to go on caring for cats and kittens. Their work never stops and support is vital.

Could you be a volunteer or run a fund raising event? Could you leave them a gift in your will? Could you take out a subscription to their magazine The Cat Magazine? Could you give a donation?


Cats Protection offer paid employment opportunities in all kinds of roles from cat care assistants and accountants to shop managers and fund raisers. They also welcome volunteers and fund raisers with open arms!



Full details about Cats Protection and the incredible work they continue to do can be found at: or call the switchboard on 01825 741 900 or the Helpline on 03000 12 12 12.

Photos courtesy of CP Library.