I am a self-confessed cat addict so you can imagine my excitement when I woke up at the crack of dawn on a slightly drizzly Thursday morning knowing I would be spending the morning volunteering at Feline Care Cat Rescue in East Harling, Norfolk.   My own cats eyed me with suspicion, I am sure they have some kind of kitty radar and knew I was up to something feline related that didn’t involve them!   How could I?

I arrived at the entrance to the rescue centre bright eyed and bushy tailed to be greeted by a huge white cut out cat guarding the gates, a great statement piece which leaves visitors in no doubt that they are in the right place!  I made my way slowly up the drive, as I know they have a large colony of feral cats that are free to roam the property.   I was truly not prepared for the amazing sight that greeted me, so many beautiful cats sauntering around and cat chalets galore positioned around the garden in front of Reception.  For any cat lover this would be a wonderful sight and it certainly was for me, the murky weather could not dampen my spirits or theirs it seemed as there was such a feeling of contentment.

I walked into Reception and was greeted by a small group of cats, the rescue elders.   They had been enjoying their breakfast so I sat down quietly and allowed the cats to approach me if they chose to do so.  I didn’t have to wait very long until a small black and white cat strolled confidently over to me and immediately nuzzled my hand purring rather loudly, bliss!  I was happy to be of service and a chin rub ensued, this friendly little chap was melting my heart and I had only just arrived.  At that point one of team came in to say hello and introduced me to some of the resident reception cats.  My new friend was called Tilly-Billy………………. yes, really!  He had arrived at FCCR as part of a feral group of cats and due to his diminutive stature was thought to be female.  As a feral he was not able to be handled initially hence he was called Tilly, at least until the day he met the Vet and became Tilly-Billy.  Such a sweet little cat, who had certainly come to love people and I can imagine charms everyone who enters the Reception area, giving them that five star welcome!   There are approximately 150 cats in residence at the rescue, most of them looking for their permanent homes and a loving family to call their own.

Handsome Tilly Billy (Photo Copyright Feline Care Cat Rescue)

Time to get to work on the morning jobs, as a newbie I was working alongside Julie, a long-time volunteer at FCCR and also a foster Mum to many cats and their kittens, a true cat lover who wants the best for all her charges and who is the perfect fit for this rescue.  She showed me the ropes and we got to work on cleaning and cuddling the kitties, more cleaning, removing food bowls, cuddles and ensuring everyone had fresh water and clean litter trays for the day.  The cat accommodation is wonderful with large communal areas and rooms that are just like a cattery for smaller groups of cats who are bonded and need to stay together.  I think I could have brought every cat I met home with me.  Some unceremoniously plopped themselves on my knee when they saw an opportunity, others waited patiently for an ear scratch and some simply viewed me with caution from the comfort and safety of their beds.  

I sat for a moment whilst replacing some blankets on a shelf when suddenly the sweetest, small shiny black cat jumped on my knee, it was only when he was in place that I realised he had three legs, this clearly did not hold him back or from enjoying life to the full!  I have met many three legged dogs but this was my first feline and it was lovely to see in person how adaptable cats are in this situation.  Apparently Boris is off to his forever home very soon, exactly the news I wanted to hear.  

Staff and volunteers were working away busily while I was there but what stood out for me was the laughter and how friendly everyone was, chatting in passing,  a happy place filled with hope and genuine love and commitment to the all the kitty residents.  Molly, who runs FCCR has such warmth and this certainly filters through to all the team.  During the time I was there I saw a rather handsome ginger cat leave for his forever home with his delighted new family.  I met a senior cat called Andy Murray, rather a character, and experienced two feral cats really sharing the love; wrapping their tails around one another and many gentle head butts! 

It was close……… but I arrived home without any new additions, something I had faithfully promised my husband.  Milly, one of my own cats was not terribly pleased that I had been sharing the feline love elsewhere.  She regarded me sternly but I weathered the storm and besides she had clearly forgotten all about it by supper time, phew!  

Milly enjoying her supper!