October 25 2014 Latest news:
Friday, July 25, 2014
There are more than 40 cats tucked away in Gay Rees’s small cattery in Beeston Regis, many waiting for their forever homes.
Some have been abandoned, some handed over by people who could no longer care for them and some who have been left to the North Norfolk Cats Lifeline Trust after their owners died.
Many of the cats are ready to be snapped up into loving homes but some older or traumatised animals will remain at the centre for the rest of their lives, joining the “unhomeables”.
The cattery is run by Mrs Rees, built in the garden of her idyllic north Norfolk home and fully dependent on donations.
And although Mrs Rees, who is a former operatic soprano and teacher, can no longer get out into the cattery, she interviews every prospective owner.
Sitting in her kitchen surrounded by her own cats, she said: “It is important people realise the cat chooses you, people have to be prepared for that.
“I have had experience of cats that take no notice of anybody and then suddenly it becomes interested when a particular person comes in.”
It is an appointment-only cattery, where prospective pet owners are invited for an interview with Mrs Rees, who personally approves each re-homing.
She said finding lonely cats the perfect home is a rewarding process, with owners often sending cards which tell tales of happy endings.
And while many of the animals at Mrs Rees’s cattery have been traumatised, she too has not had an easy life.
Her early career as a soprano saw her working in the West End and entertaining the troops.
While stationed in Egypt with her soldier husband, she rescued a cat she saw thrown from a hotel fifth floor window – a sign of things to come.
But her husband was killed in action during post-war riots before their son was born.
It meant a switch of careers and Mrs Rees became a teacher working at Sheringham High School where she was head of the remedial department and drama.
Nine years ago she was attacked by an unseen assailant from behind with some kind of “stun gun” which blasted her to the ground in her garden early one morning.
Yet she kept the cattery and today is helped by a team of about 11 volunteers, including trustee Jenny Dean who travels up from Aylsham six days a week.
All the cats roam free in the cattery, with a separate caravan for older cats, converted into a miniature house, complete with kitchen.
Mrs Rees said: “I can’t do the physical things any more but I still plan and think of things that need to be done.”
Anyone wishing to re-home one of the cats needs to be able to provide a stable permanent home.
Mrs Rees said there is no charge but a donation is required. “We always say give what you can afford,” she said. “The home is more important than the donation.”
Contact the cat sanctuary at South Hollow, Sheringwood on 01263 822560 for an appointment.
There is an open day at the sanctuary on September 6 and a mulled wine morning on November 22 from 9.30am to 12pm.