Shad shoots more waifs and strays

John and I were hanging out with our friend who fosters the homeless cats.  Regular readers might remember about the pen for waifs and strays in her back garden.  John’s daughter Natasha joined us in the pen and we took these photos.  Its not easy taking photos in the pen due to the limited space and not wanting to frighten the residents.  But just look how cute these moggies are.

The chunky black and white is a 2 year old boy called Bandit.  He had just been to the vets to have ‘the chop’ the day before.  (I’ve been there mate!!)  Anyway, he is a really vocal cat, and the veterinary nurse said he meowed and meowed so much they could hear him in the waiting room.  Then apparently he got into a punch up with the cat next to him, poking his paws through the gaps in the cage, trying to bop him on the noggin.  Anyway, enough gossiping!  He was surrendered by his owner because she had to move house and couldn’t take him.

The other two tiny creatures are Tickle (11 years old) and Whiskey (6 years old).  These friendly little ladies have lived most of their lives outside and were not being cared for by their owner who by all accounts preferred a drink than to spend time caring for the cats.  They told me how happy they were to be safe and warm and dry and fed and stroked every day.  Good luck to Whiskey and Tickle and Bandit and all the pussy cats looking for homes this Christmas.

Shad does PAWs animal sanctuary

Have you ever met a rabbit who thinks she’s a chicken?  John and I did at the weekend.  This rabbit spent her life with chickens and was not socialised by her previous owners.  So when PAWs Animal Sanctuary in Findon, West Sussex rescued her, she was unable to settle with other rabbits and soon became affectionately know as Mrs Grumpy!  This big bundle of fuzz is now well cared for and lives happily with 2 tortoises and a cat.  Her name is Fluffy and she has long soft downy ears and fur so thick and lush that the tortoises snuggle up to her at night for warmth and comfort.

PAWs has been rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals for the past 30 years and is a small locally-based charity run by Stacey and Sheila in their back garden.  John and I met Stacey on our visit and she welcomed us in and showed us round, telling us about the animals she is currently caring for.  Some of them are permanent residents, like Fluffy who needs special care and patience, and some of them are looking for new homes.  Basil the black cat was rescued from the house where he lived when his owners moved out and left him behind.  Then there’s Harry the long-haired black and white cat with a black beard and half a moustache.  There was a number of cats with amusing facial markings and I must admit I felt a little jealous.  I reckon I’d look good with a white handlebar or a Fu Manchu!

Now, you know how curious cats are.  Abbey the old tabby cat you can see sitting on my camera bag was sniffing round my equipment the whole time we were there.   Her tongue hangs out because her jaw is misshapen due to wearing a metal brace in her mouth for 5 years following a road traffic accident.  The brace should have been worn for only 6 weeks but the owners never took her back to the vet to have it removed.  When this friendly little pussy-cat was rescued, she had dreadful ulcers and infections in her mouth, but PAWs fixed her up and she is now living a comfortable life.  I thought she was being a nosey parker but it turns out John had hidden some treats in one of the compartments in the camera bag, so me and Abbey hooked them out with our paws and enjoyed a snack together in the sunshine.

Abbey has lots of company at PAWs including a donkey, guinea-pigs, a peacock and a clutch of chickens.  The chickens spend their days clucking and pecking around the garden and are tucked up safely into bed at night.  If you pop over to PAWs on a Sunday afternoon, you can buy some of their scrumptious free-range eggs, drop a couple of quid in the collection tin and sit on the bench in the garden, watching the animals and talking to the volunteers who are busy grooming, feeding, medicating, exercising and bonding with the animals.

Like every animal charity, PAWs is always full and has a waiting list of animals to come in.  But PAWs provide a unique service to the animals of Sussex because they rescue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  However they can only go out in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to rescue an animal in distress if they have the resources to care for it.  They don’t have secured funding or a national infra-structure to support them so public donations and support from local businesses are essential.  All proceeds from donating go directly towards the upkeep of the animals and enable PAWs to meet the increasing costs associated with caring for animals.  They have also launched an appeal to raise money for a desperately needed bigger and better animal sanctuary so good luck to them for that project.  Thank you PAWs for the dedication and hard work and sacrifices you make every day to look after animals in need.

Shad gets jiggy with the Saga Louts

This music-crazy bunch of over-forties form a band called the Saga Louts and consist of a lead singer (John’s brother) who also plays the harmonica, a lead guitarist, a bass guitarist and a drummer.  They played down the pub the other night and I decided to forego my mid-evening nap to tag along with John and see them perform.  It was all very rock ‘n roll as they played songs such as Route 66, Summer of ‘69 and Brown Sugar.

It was quite loud but very entertaining and I could see how much the band and the crowd were enjoying themselves.  At one point, John’s brother Colin was crooning with all his might, eyes tight shut, lost in his own world, swinging his groove thing and serenading the ladies!  I was hoping to catch John having a shake and a shimmy but he’s much too shrewd to get caught doing a ‘Hammer shuffle‘ or a moon-walk so unfortunately I have no embarrassing photos to show you.  But here are a few pictures of the Saga Louts doing what they do best.

Shad does the NCC

The National Cat Centre (NCC) at Chelwood Gate (near Haywards Heath in East Sussex) was completed in 2004 and is the largest cat re-homing centre in the UK, finding homes for over 1,000 of my wayward feline cousins every year.  That’s a lot of cats!  It’s based in a lovely location in Ashdown Forest and includes over 200 pens, a veterinary block and a maternity unit.  They have conference facilities and are keen on teaching people all about how to take care of cats.  They welcome schools, colleges and community groups for educational talks and tours and gave 500 informative talks in 2012.

I think it’s really important to educate young people about cats and our needs.  We are after all complex creatures and often get misunderstood.  We like companionship yet we need our space, we can be very affectionate yet we also get moody.  We’re clever enough to break into the biscuit box and work out how to open the door,  yet so daft we cross the road with no concept of the dangers and climb trees with no thought to the consequences.  We communicate in subtle ways, using our ears, tails, mouths and paws to tell humans how we feel and we behave inexplicably, chasing our tails, inspecting your toes or attacking the armchair.   We are notorious haters of water, yet we have an unhealthy fascination with the sink!

Anyway, I get quite excited when John takes me to the NCC.  It’s a veritable haven of cat-friendly paraphernalia.  I trotted in to reception and met Georgie, a 14 year old tabby girl who was having a snooze on her blanket.  She is up for adoption but is not kept in a pen because it’s nice to have a resident cat (even if it’s only temporary) and she is quite relaxed and well-behaved.  She let me play with her toys and climb the cat tree and I had fun hiding in the tunnels while John was looking for me.

Then we went to see the cats in the pens and I made some new friends.  Like Suzie, the gracious 10 year old tortie and white who is a bit scruffy looking but absolutely adorable and a little sad at being overlooked due to her age.  Gizmo is the tabby in the castle and Pumpkin is the ginger on top of the castle.  All the pens contain grey castle-shaped beds which the cats can sleep on or hide in if they are feeling a little shy.  The diligent staff do everything they can to make the cats as comfortable as possible while they wait to find new homes and I was also lucky enough to meet one of the volunteers who visits the centre to spend time with the cats.  This quiet and unassuming man takes time out of his life to sit with the cats, stroking them, playing with them or simply just being there, talking to them and reassuring them.  I don’t know his name, he doesn’t get any awards for what he does, and when the cats leave they will soon forget him.  But those precious moments he spends with the cats enrich their lives and help them on their journey to happiness, and the impact of his kindness will last forever.

Max is the 15 year old black and white that you can see strolling up the passageway in the photo.  We chatted in the corridor for a while and he told me about Arrow, a black and white cat who had given staff the run around a few days earlier when he escaped from his pen and started frolicking around in the play area, much to the amusement of the other cats.  Oh and you should have seen Elvis, a sassy black cat who teased me something rotten, posing for the camera and then moving every time I took a picture, playing the clown.  All the fun of the visit made me thirsty so John fetched drinks for Elvis and I which we gulped down in seconds to see who could drink the fastest.  Elvis won so I threw my straw at him which he paraded around haughtily.  No one likes a smart-aleck Elvis!!

Shad gives black cats the love

Thursday 31st October is National Black Cat Day.  It’s a tribute to black domestic cats and perhaps some of my wild feline cousins too.  It’s intended to help dispel age-old superstitions about black cats that have led to people being less inclined to take one of these dark creatures home.  There are hundreds of homeless black cats in Cat Protection’s care and an apparent reluctance to adopt them.  This has led the charity to organise an annual event to raise awareness of their plight.  So if you want to celebrate black and black-and-white cats, you can download a free black cat pack which includes posters and masks and fun ideas.

http://www.cats.org.uk/black-cats

Here are a few fascinating facts to peak your interest!  Black fur is a result of melanism which is the development of the dark coloured pigment called melanin in the skin and is the opposite of albinism.  It is linked to the process of adaptation in the animal kingdom because it allows the animal to be better camouflaged.  Dark individuals are therefore better adapted to survive and reproduce in their environments.  I can vouch for that!  My sleek dark coat allows me to crouch in corners hidden from view while I practice my stalking techniques on my toy mouse and John’s feet.

Melanism is most prevalent in male cats and is seen in 11 of the 36 wild cat species.  It produces yellow irises, as demonstrated by my sparkling golden eyes, and can make some species less noticeable to predators, while other species such as the majestic black jaguars or leopards use it to their advantage during night hunting. There is also evidence to show that having a black coat is associated with resistance to some viral infections.

So there are lots of reasons to appreciate black cats.  Here are a few photos of some of my black and black-and-white cat friends and cousins.  They come in all shapes and sizes, and all characters and temperaments, from amicable and affectionate to petulant and proud.  You will also see a few exclusive images of me, looking rather buff, showing off my glossy and gleaming silky black coat.  Go on, give black cats the love!

Shad meets the Equihunter again!

Equihunter – Luxury Horse Box Manufacturers

Here are some rather stylish images (though I say so myself!) John and I captured when we took another jaunt to the Felbridge Showground.  This horsebox is for sale and is 3½ tonne as opposed to the 7½ tonne vehicle I told you about a few months ago.  John’s friend took the horsebox in to the jumping ring and we were lucky enough to find a nice rider willing to pose for us in one of the photos.  Horse and rider appeared so dignified that I couldn’t resist a closer look, so I hopped up on to a fence where I was level with the horse’s face.

Soon all dignity had gone out the window as we were nuzzling and shnozzling unashamedly.  I’m not normally given to swooning, but I am a cat after all, and when I find something I like, I have to rub myself against it!!  He had a lovely big nose with soft lips and short thick whiskers, and every time he huffed and whinnied, hot air blew out of his large round nostrils.  I like horses, they’re loyal and work hard, and I’ve seen some horses happily let a cat have a snooze on their back too.

It was raining on the day so I spent most of the time lounging around inside the horsebox, enjoying a nap on the cream leather seats of the cabin, checking out my reflection in the mirror and watching John contort himself into all sorts of weird and wonderful positions to get some good shots.  He had wet knees and frizzy hair by the time we left.  On the way home, he made a remark about my apparent lack of exertion during the day, but I explained that I was conducting research in the vehicle, serious corporate quality assurance work, all part of the business.  He rolled his eyeballs and smiled while I shut my eyes for a late afternoon siesta.  It’s a cats life!

Equihunter – Luxury Horse Box Manufacturers

Shad’s Garden Birds

As a well-loved pussy-cat, I’m lucky enough to have regular meals and a selection of warm cozy places to sleep.  I have also put many hours of practice into refining my techniques for charming John into giving me extra treats (no doubt he would describe it as harassment)!  But for the garden birds, finding food is hard work, so an extra meal from your kitchen or some commercially available bird food will help them keep going, especially during the winter months.

October is a good time to start putting food out for the birds.  Feed them until the end of April when they should be able to find plenty of food for themselves.  Although in long dry summers, the chaffinches will be searching for seeds that may be scarce, plus the hard ground might make it difficult for the blackbirds and thrushes to catch worms.  Treats you can put out include natural peanuts in their shells, wild bird seed, suet or fat balls (always remove and cut up any netting which can trap and kill wildlife), cooked rice, potato or pasta and bruised fruit such as apples or pears.

Now you might be wondering why a carnivorous member of the felidae species would know so much about birds.  Well I’ll tell you.  John and I like to photograph them and have spent many a happy moment watching them through the windows.  Feeding the birds has brought me closer to them and I marvel at their fascinating behaviour and wonderful colours.  I’ve watched them flirting with each other at the bird table and squabbling at the feeders, I ‘ve watched them play together in the snow and huddle up on a branch to keep warm.

According to the RSPB, over half of adults in the UK feed the birds in the garden, so that’s a lot of extra help for the birds!  But its important to feed them responsibly and safely.  There’s lots of advice about bird tables, hygiene, feeding and what birds to expect on the RSPB website.  Don’t forget to avoid foods that may be toxic to the birds or other wildlife as well as domestic animals such as cats and dogs.

Talking about cats, many of my feline cousins are hunters who might be tempted to lurk in a garden that attracts the birds so try to reduce the risk of cats catching them.  Any food on the ground should be at a distance from shrubs and thick grass where a cat could lie in wait ready to pounce.  Place feeders up high and away from surfaces from which a cat could jump and use spiny plants like holly around the base of a feeding stations to stop them loitering there.

Who is Shad the Cat

My name is Shadow and I run my own friendly and professional business as a photographer.  As you can imagine, I have a unique perspective on my work due to the fact that I’m a cat so I am able to offer a service that is individually-tailored to my clients’ needs and comes with a personal furry touch.  My very experienced assistant John is always available to help and he has a passion for producing vibrant and stylish images that reflect my high standards.  If you want to see some of my work, please go to

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www.shadow-photography.com

 As you can appreciate, I have a special connection with animals so I tend to specialise in pet portraits and understand how to capture the individuality of your pet in an artistic and creative way.  I can also produce excellent photographs of items such as food and products for any personal or commercial events that demonstrate lifestyle.  I know how important your family is to you, which is why my family portrait sessions are relaxed and fun and capture moments you can treasure.  I also offer glamorous boudoir shots which flatter and inspire confidence, no matter what your shape and size.  In fact, I’m a little shapely myself but I like my treats and I’m a bit of gourmet!  I have a lot of patience and a good sense of timing (due to my instinctive though latent hunting skills) which are essential when taking the best photos at parties and weddings.  In fact, I have been known to produce outstanding wedding photos, providing I am given the right motivation – usually a few vol-au-vents and a couple of scotch-eggs from the buffet table does the trick!

 

Thanks for reading about me.  I’ve got to go now because John is busy editing and printing the shots he took for our last client and he’ll need some advice from me about the colour balance and composition.  Plus I’m hoping to give him the ‘big eye’ treatment and persuade him to make a tuna sandwich for us to share.  Next time, I’ll tell you about when I went to the aquarium and saw these huge catfish that were almost as big as me and got into an argument with an otter over who had the biggest whiskers!