Hackney is the cat capital of Britain – official

Rescued cats Radish and Milly © Hackney council
Little Lola, saved by the council
Little Lola, saved by the council

HACKNEY is the cat capital of England, if not of Britain. Other local authorities pick up dogs, but according to the RSPCA, the borough is the only one to look after the cuddlesome wee creatures.

The animal-aid organisation notes with a purr of pleasure that in Hackney a full-time cat protection officer, Barbara Read, works with charities to rescue and nurse unwanted fur bags back to health.

The figures – 40 strays rescued and re-homed in the last year –  may seem underwhelming, but they impressed the RSPCA and it give Hackney an Innovator award.

One cat was found with a litter of kittens under a bush on Hackney Marshes. A volunteer fostered the bureaucratically named “Ruby”, and her young, who have now all been rehomed.

Peeping: shy little Monkey
Peeping: shy little Monkey

A male kitten was found with his sister, mother and father in a Clapton garden. All were rescued and foster homes found. It became clear, however, that the “boy” was not developing.

Tests showed he was suffering from hypothyroidism, which is rare in cats. He is still on daily medication but, at six months, he is now healthy.

Neighbourhoods councillor Feryal Demirci, risking becoming known as the cat councillor, said in a press statement: “By helping cats as well as dogs and promoting responsible pet ownership we are going beyond our statutory duty as a council.

“There are a large number of stray and feral cats in the borough, including pregnant mums and cats with kittens, all in need of protection.”

Some of the rescued moggies
Some rescued Hackney street cats

Anyone thinking of getting a cat should ensure they could look give it proper attention, which included neutering, vaccination and microchipping “so that any cats that do up in our hands can be quickly reunited with their owners”.

She might have added that a bell added to a collar when a cat goes out can reduce the effect of these animals on ill-prepared native animals. Cat depredation on British wildlife is much argued about, but the death toll of birds, insects and small animals probably runs into millions.

Hamish Scott 141014 

* Residents receiving social benefits can take their pets to a free Blue Cross mobile vet outside Hackney Town Hall every Wednesday.

* If you can foster or help in any way, see Cats Protection, a feline welfare charity.

* Cat pictures supplied by Hackney council.

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2 thoughts on “Hackney is the cat capital of Britain – official

  1. A dozen years ago, after my previous Hackney rescue cat died, I went back to the council’s animal warden service to see if they could find me another cat. They told me they’d been restricted to deal only with dogs, the statutory minimum requirement laid on local authorities, for budgetary reasons.


    It’s good to see that there’s again a council cat protection officer but I hope that she’s being properly paid and funded. The council publication Hackney Today article talked about having a full-time volunteer in this job.

    Hamish Scott assumed, probably wrongly, that the post was funded. He should have asked about its salary.– Ed.

  2. A few points: the cat Lola was found wandering near the Gherkin building in the City and was rescued by office workers, who had noticed her looking thin and grubby. They got in touch with Barbara Read at CP [cat protection].

    Lola was taken to a vet, the wonderful Dale Barter, of Amwell Veterinary Practice, who checked her and kept her until foster care could be arranged.

    I then looked after her for a week or so until Debbie Downs, one of the office staff who found her, took her. Debbie is still looking after her.

    As for Ruby, what was bureaucratic about the name I gave her? I fostered her and her five kittens, all now rehomed. I thought it was a pretty normal name for a cat.

    She was one of many cats abandoned by owners, possibly because she was pregnant.

    Anyway, thanks for drawing attention to the great work done by Read and the other people at CP, and the support given by Hackney council.

    Wee Hamish meant that the cat was named by a bureaucrat. Apparently not. (Ruby is a far superior name to, say, Tiddles.) Thank you, and I have deleted that reference. – Ed.

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