Found abandoned last Christmastime, rescue cat Lucy needed some serious TLC. When new owner Janet Askey took her in, she had no idea how much it would change both of their lives for the better.
The moment Janet Askey set eyes on the rescue cat she would later name Lucy, she felt an immediate connection. ‘I just knew it had to be her,’ she says. Janet hadn’t been completely sure she was ready for another pet after her much-loved previous cats had passed away. But a visit to her local shelter changed her mind.
Janet had popped in to view another cat when she noticed a pair of ‘sad, dark eyes’ looking at her. She went over to investigate, and fell for Lucy straightaway. ‘She came out of bed for a stroke, something she had previously been wary of doing,’ Janet recalls.
Subdued, thin, and in poor health, 18-month-old Lucy had been taken in by the rescue centre after being found abandoned over Christmas time. Janet learned that Lucy had recently been pregnant, although she had lost her kittens. ‘She needed a lot of care,’ Janet says. ‘She had to have a scan to see if there were still any kittens inside her, and needed to be spayed.’
Settling in a new rescue cat
A few weeks later, after being nursed back to health, Lucy came home with Janet and her husband. Like most cats, Lucy was initially extremely wary of new surroundings. ‘She hid behind the boiler for four hours, and then hid under the bookcase for two days,’ says Janet.
Janet made sure to give Lucy the time and space she needed to adjust. She created a cosy sleeping area with a blanket, and ensured Lucy had easy access to food and water. ‘When you take on a rescue cat, you need to have the patience and the understanding to help that cat find its own way,’ says Janet. ‘Don’t overcrowd them, and let them come around at their own pace.’
Janet’s care and commitment paid off. Over time, Lucy became a lively, loving and confident cat, who now ‘runs the house’. She enjoys nothing better than playing with her favourite toy: a furry chicken tied to a piece of string. ‘She gets hours of fun from that,’ smiles Janet. ‘She also loves animal videos on television. She stops what she’s doing, walks up to the TV, puts her paws on it, and watches.’
For Janet, who has undergone a number of surgeries in recent years, adopting a rescue cat has provided great companionship. ‘I’ve been really poorly, and Lucy has been an absolute saviour,’ she says. ‘She’s massively brought me out of a place where the illnesses were getting on top of me. She gave me a reason to get up some mornings because I knew she needed looking after.’
Janet is keen to encourage those who are ready to take on the responsibility of a new pet to consider rehoming a rescue cat. ‘Don’t buy one, just go and help a little stray,’ she says.
She is now looking forward to spending her first Christmas with Lucy by her side – and rejoicing that this year, Lucy won’t be spending the festive season alone, facing a bleak future. ‘Rescue cats come with a backstory,’ says Janet. ‘We don’t always know what’s happened to them, but we’ve got to make them feel safe, secure, and happy going forward. Lucy has been a source of joy – I’m so glad I picked her. Or did she pick me?!’
How to get a rescue cat
Sadly, Lucy’s story is far from uncommon, as Cats Protection spokesperson Zahir White explains. ‘One in four of the cats that Cats Protection takes in each year are stray or abandoned,’ he says. ‘Life for these cats is very tough, particularly for unneutered females, who can have up to 18 kittens a year.’
When abandoned cats are taken in by rehoming centres, such as Cats Protection, they are microchipped and vaccinated. If they are old enough, they are also neutered. These actions help to ensure your loving companion is ready for their new start in life.
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