Council staff rescue of rare kittens highlights need for help

Thumbs up for Hackney Council! A stray litter of rare polydactyl kittens has been rescued and fostered by staff at Hackney Council. The unusual kittens and their mother have extra toes on all four feet making it look like they have thumbs.

Without the work of volunteer Barbara Read, the only local authority Cat Protection Officer in the country, and the Council staff who fed and looked after them, the kittens and their mother may not have survived. Although we are a nation of cat lovers it is estimated that there are around 500,000 stray or feral cats in London alone. Barbara says that through her cat protection service, Feline Friends London, she is dealing with around 100 cats at any one time, and needs Hackney residents’ help.

The mother cat, aptly named Pollyanna, was being fed by Council staff before Hackney’s Cat Protection Officer rescued her and found the litter of seven kittens. The lucky cats have since been fostered by Hackney Council Business Information Officer Paul Dobbs, who took them in and has been keeping them warm, fed and watered until they can be homed.

Whether donating money, giving up one hour a month, fostering rescued cats, or providing a permanent home, Hackney’s stray and feral cats will benefit, and it’s rewarding for humans too. Paul, foster carer for the polydactyl litter, explained: “My wife and I took in the cats as they didn’t have anywhere to go - we started the day never having owned a cat and finished the day with eight! Our flat in Dalston has turned pretty chaotic as between naps the kittens like to burn off as much energy as possible play fighting with each other, exploring, and generally trying to get where they’re not supposed to be. They are pretty daft most of the time but lots of fun!”

Pollyanna and one of her kittens, O’Reilly, still need a home as do lots of cats all across the borough. If you can adopt, foster or volunteer with Feline Friends London get in touch at admin@felinefriendslondon.uk, or visit felinefriendslondon.uk for more information. Other local organisations providing vital cat protection services include Stokey Cats and Dogs (www.stokeycatsanddogs.co.uk) and Celia Hammond Animal Trust (www.celiahammond.org).