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David, known as D.V. Catt on Twitter, was involved with animal rescue in the U.K. for 12 years. It was a pleasure to chat with him about the organization and about his cats.
You mentioned that you were in animal welfare. What can you tell us about that?
I worked for a charity in this country called the Celia Hammond Animal Trust. I worked at an animal sanctuary not far from where I live. It's a sanctuary, Greenacres Sanctuary. I worked there for about 12 years.
I've just recently retired mostly due to my health. I'm getting a bit old now and I have some issues. But yeah, it was a great time. And I'm working in the animal welfare sector was great. I grew up with animals and animals my whole life, but I took the opportunity to stop working in the commercial side of things and move to the charity sector in 2010. And it was great. I loved it. I mean, it doesn't make you wealthy but there's more important things in life than that. And I really felt like I was doing something worthwhile.
They have a big neutering scheme for people on low incomes. They have two clinics, animal clinics in London, also rehoming centers. But they do veterinary work again for people on low incomes. And I worked at their sanctuary in Sussex which is hundred acres given over mostly to cats. There's the occasional goat and rabbit and whatever lands on a doorstep, but mostly cats.
That comprises anything up to maybe a hundred cats that live on the site in shelters and in the house and wherever. But they're free. They're free to roam. And about the same amount again in pens for re-homing. So the sanctuary cats are there for their lives. They're usually cats that have some kind of problem, very often behavioral or medical problem. That means that they're not really suitable to be rehomed, but they do still deserve to have a good life.
Then there's the other side of the charity, which is to take cats in to make sure they're healthy and spay or neuter them if required, and get them handleable and happy and then rehome them to new homes. It's a really enjoyable work. Most of what I did was just hands-on cat care, cleaning, grooming, all the usual day-to-day stuff. A lot of my colleagues worked in the rescue side of things, which can be distressing to be honest with you. Everybody thinks, oh, you're so lucky working with cats. And it's great. And absolutely is. But there's a dark side to the charity. The things that we have to deal with on a daily basis and the cruelty that you see. And so you do need to be a certain kind of person to deal with that as well.
It’s not all just stroking cats, although that is a lot of job I have to say. I've just retired, so I spend all day with my four. I have Dilly, she's an oriental. I've got Moo-Moo, Booboo and Benji as well. People particularly seem like Dilly because she's such an odd-looking creature with a big face. And she's like most Oriental cats. She has character. I've had Oriental and Siamese cats for maybe 35 years.
That's very cool. It's really interesting actually how you're talking about, going back to your previous comment about working in charities and rescue and stuff. I was watching a TV show based outta the state. Basically it's like animal cops, but it's basically rescuers who go into different situations and essentially save these animals from horrible situations. And what really breaks your heart is when there was one episode where there was a lady who thought she herself was running a rescue, but because she had so many animals and wasn't able to take care of them, she was basically just continuing along with the distress.
That is not an unusual situation. You find somebody that really thinks they're helping, but their house has got 50 cats in it and it's beyond what they can cope with. And it's not good for the cats. They really believe they're helping, but it's their mental situation. It's not necessarily, some people go a little bit off the rails. It is sad, but I mean, they're good people. They love their cats, but they can no longer cope with the quantity and of the cats that they have and the conditions become bad. And very often a charity, the one I worked for, will have to uplift those animals and take them to better conditions. I mean, they work with the RSPCA, We work hand in hand with them when conditions are so bad that animals need to be taken into care.
So that is part of the job. Those are the people that are basically good and kind people, but have just lost their way a little. But then there's also the people that aren't so nice that you have to deal with can be difficult. You do meet some horrible people in the rescue line of work, but having said that, 99% of people are good people. It's only the one. So most of the people you meet are great and the staff that you work with all the people involved in animal charities generally are great kind of people. So I wouldn't wanna put anybody off doing work. It's very fulfilling and you'll meet excellent people doing it and come away with a real feeling of mm-hmm having made a difference. So go to your local rescue center and if you can offer some time, do that. You'll love it.
So out of all of the many animals that you've worked with at the rescue are there any specific stories or cats that stood out in your mind?
Sure. I'm sure there's hundreds. I mean a more recent one of very happy story cause I know he's just gone to his forever home -- there's a big cat called Buzz. He came to us wild. I mean really you couldn't get near him. A very big cat, a seven kilo cat fluffy black hissing, spitting, taking chunks out me on a daily basis. But over the first few weeks he was calming down a bit and I started stroking him with a stick because I couldn't get my hand near him. It was too dangerous. I started stroking him with stick and over the weeks and months he was moved to a bigger pen where I was responsible for him. And by the end time I left which was September, I was able to pick him up and hold him like a baby. And he turned out to be the biggest darling, honestly.
He was lovely. And I had a text from the sanctuary at a fortnight ago and he's found a home and they love him and they've sent me pictures of him in his new home and he's wonderful. So never give up. Just because they come in violent and semi-feral doesn't mean that they can't be pets. Obviously somebody had loved him at some time in his life, but he'd obviously learned not to trust people for whatever reason.
So last question is what is your opinion on animal influencers and why do you think they have gained so much popularity?
That's a difficult one. People like looking at pictures of cats. I think that that's the easy answer. I mean, I started posting on Twitter 12 years ago just when I started at a charity actually, cuz I'd had a major heart operation and I had a lot of time on my hands at that time. I had eight months of recovery where I was sitting around doing nothing and I found Twitter and I started posting pictures of cats and people like pictures of cats. I mean I've got quite a lot of followers now. I'm not in the great scheme of things, but I've got about 11,000 or so. But it took a long time to get to that. But yeah, I just tweet pictures of cats and I tweet my own mostly I tweet my own four. I did tweet pictures from the sanctuary, but you have to be a little careful what you show especially if cats have been taken from homes and there are rules about what I could picture from the sanctuary, although I did send them in.
People just like to live vicariously through other people's animals I think. And if you've got a particular character like my Dilly cat with her oddness, then people like that. So I keep doing it as long as it makes people happy. I get lots of lovely comments about my tweets and all the time that continues. I'll continue. If people stop being interested, then I'll stop doing it.
For those interested in the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, the website is www.celiahammond.org. David can be found on Twitter at @DavidSuperCat.
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Another fabulous interview Carol, thank you so much for arranging it & against it with us. And thank you to Roxie for being so open.