Crosskennan took a look at the animals around them and couldn't believe the sheer numbers who had passed through their gates that year.
We keep a count of all animals, for general records but also so we can monitor numbers for the year. We have seen large numbers before, true, but when we have had such large numbers in the past we had the financial support of PSNI or Council contracts.
This year we have seen a total (as of the 20th of December) of 196 individual cats and kittens receiving help from the sanctuary; via rescue, rehoming and vet care. For comparison we helped a total of 69 cats in 2019. That's nearly three times as many!
Of these 196 cats, there were ones whose owners couldn't care for them any longer due to illness, home changes, job losses, home losses. There were cats who had been abandoned, unwanted and neglected and there were cats who had been straying for a long time and just needed help. Most of all though, this year we saw kittens. So many kittens. We have never seen the numbers of kittens in all our twenty four years, as we have this year. We have been receiving on average 10 calls a day about cats and kittens in need since May and although we were helping cats since January it was May onwards that things ramped up for us; one day we dealt with 27 calls and emails between the team; all needing help with cats and kittens; often multiples.
We have helped cats and kittens like...
We got a call in the middle of lockdown from a couple who had a stray come into their garden, he was covered in injuries and very sickly. They got him caught and brought to us. We called him Seymour and put a call out to see if anyone was missing him in the area; whilst many replied it was to say that he wasn't theirs.
He was neutered, de fleaed, wormed, and his wounds and ear infection treated. Soon he was ready to find a home and we got word from the people who rescued him that their Uncle was looking for a cat after his last rescue passed away. Sounded like a perfect home for Seymour and they came up to meet him while we did checks etc. All was set but the week before he was due to go to his home we did his health check and found a lump. We were devastated, his new family more so naturally. It was decided we would keep Seymour until we could investigate the lump fully.
In the meantime we knew of another cat living in a garage who had been waiting to find a home for well over a year. So when Seymour's door closed on the home it opened it up for Bailey to find a loving home instead.
Seymour continued his treatment at the sanctuary, with the lump finally investigated (among the chaos of lockdowns and restrictions etc.) and it was found to be benign. Next was having it removed and once done he was ready to find a home.
By this point Seymour had been living in the barn Kitchen for months, enjoying the many laps he could sit on. We knew he needed a special home where he could not only keep up to date on his health checks, but also would have a lovely warm lap to occupy.
When long term supporter Jean applied to adopt she applied for Clifford, but on reading her application we couldn't help but feel there was another cat better suited to her home. Thankfully she was open to suggestions and when we invited her up to meet Seymour she seemed smitten.
Following checks (of home and of Seymour) it was time to say good luck to our little man and wish him well as he headed off on a new adventure.
We received word that he has settled in well, renamed Emo, and is a great little lap cat!
The Fairhill Rescue...
We have shared the Fairhill rescues story before; but today we can share a different view on that story, from the ladies who really did save the cats and then invited one into their home.
The following is our story of how, in the midst of a global pandemic, Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary went totally above and beyond to help us protect, care for and rehome feral cats.
A bit of history about our story… we are avid cat lovers, and at the time we met the feral cats we were already parents to 5 cats.
In November 2019 (so just over a year ago now) we first came across the cats living in an alley in Ballymena. There were four of them in total, and they were all quite clearly starving. We began to feed them twice a day on our way to and from work.
Although we were feeding the cats we were still very concerned about their living conditions. The only shelter from the winter elements they had was an old sofa. We made the decision to seek help and contacted numerous cat organisations and charities for help and advice. We heard nothing back.
Over the following months, we continued to feed the wee cats and became really attached to them, even naming them. When we were put into lockdown we used our daily exercise to feed the cats so they didn’t starve.
By June, due to pregnancies, the number of cats had escalated to more than 10; with us unable to even get an accurate count of them all even in such a small area. With little kittens now in danger too we decided to reach out to the cat organizations again, but nowhere could help; either not covering the Ballymena area, or else they didn’t back to us at all.
Then our miracle came when Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary got back to us in July.
Crosskennan is mainly an equine rescue but they agreed to help with the cats even while they were already inundated with cats because of lockdown. They went above and beyond to help.
Thanks to Crosskennan we were able to save 13 cats and kittens and bring them to safety.
I would like to remind everyone that at this time we were in the middle of the first wave of the COVID 19 global pandemic; and although lockdown had lifted the country was still in restrictions. Carol and Lyn did whatever they could to help; from communication to physical help. They just got on with it and saved these cats.
I have personally visited the cats at the sanctuary and saw that they have everything they could ever dream to have at Crosskennan. It is evident in abundance just how much the animals are loved and cared for at the sanctuary.
All the cats needed to be fed, treated by vets, neutered, spayed, etc. all at the sanctuary’s own expense. They don’t have any statutory funding and rely on the generosity of people and donations of money and food.
This brings me on to tell about our wee Jasper, he was one of the feral cats and we just couldn’t say goodbye to him and after a month at the sanctuary, we got our wishes granted when Carol dropped him to our home for us.
When he arrived he was feral, and we knew he would need time to adjust but we honestly felt he was so worth it. Well, we were right, within the two months he has lived with us he has well and truly become a member of the family. He still has many adjustments to make but every day he comes around that little bit more and we love him that bit more.
We can’t imagine our family without Jasper, he makes it complete.
I want to say a massive thank you to Crosskenann for all their help and genuine concern for our case. You brought us Jasper and for that, we will be eternally grateful. I can’t say enough good things about Crosskennan and how well they were able to help us even in the middle of a pandemic. Thank you Carol and Lyn for everything. Because of you, I am able to talk about all this as a success story.
Of the original group rescued, Ghost, Loki, Ollie, Jasper, Darla, Thor, and Snips have all been rehomed. Nancy is looking for a home (even a temporary one) where she can grow in confidence and recover from spaying after having her kittens. Joy is looking for a home where she can also recover, ideally with her son Joe. Clifford is looking for a special home where he can be pampered but be independent. Terrance and George need a special home where they can learn to trust people.
Darwin and Deliah
Many of you will know about our 14 cat flu kittens, many of whom the vets hadn't held out much hope of recovery. A couple where so poorly at the beginning that one Sunday night they were rushed into the vets and we didn't think they would be coming out again.
We are so pleased to say that all 14 survived and soon they were being snapped up for homes; at least the friendly ones were. Each week we would watch more head out to new homes and we would be happy for them; but our hearts would break for the nervous ones who hid out of sight when people came in. Very few wanted the nervous cats, the ones who didn't come over to greet people on arrival or play with toys. Even less continued contact when they did meet them; deciding against adopting them as they just seemed like too much work. It got to the point where for some they were too old; as well as too nervous.
Down to the last 4 and we had seen many potential homes come and go. The little tortie from another litter joined the group; in hopes of bonding her up with someone; being the last of her own litter.
When applications came in we were starting to loose heart, even knowing what wondering kittens they are and knowing what a home could do for them.
Darwin and Deliah were the last two to be adopted in this group...
When I met Darwin and Delilah they were absolute opposites in the cattery. They were about 4 months old. Darwin was looking to be picked, came straight over and actually got into his cat box himself. I wanted to rehome 2 siblings as when I am at work every weekday they would be able to keep each other company.
Delilah was very different, she wouldn't come near me when I was getting her, and took an hour for her to get into the cat box to take home.
When they arrived at my home, they were both extremely shy, Darwin was surprisingly shy and they just hid together, finding their safe space under the sofa and in the corner of the table. Every so often they let me stroke them but they were spitting and really weren't keen and I thought it's fine as they'll come round eventually. It took a few days but they started to walk about the apartment and find their feet, I kept them to the living room and kitchen at first as I didn't want to overwhelm them. Showed them where their food was and their litter tray. We've had no accidents at all and I've had them a few months.
After a few days they just changed, they were more familiar with me ( I was always talking to them so they knew my voice and calling their names, etc) and they're the most lively loving wee cats. Very outgoing, they chase each other about the apartment and they're great fun for each other. They especially love their toy hanging from a string and a ping pong ball! Delilah who was so shy previously and wouldn't come near me is up on my lap every night for snuggles and sleeps on the bed! They're just great to watch together as they snuggle in with each other to sleep. Darwin is an absolute character and just loves to talk to you! He also licks you like a dog and tries to eat your hair. If you're looking for some comedy entertainment, 2 cats are definitely the way to go.
I'm so glad I adopted these two and don't be put off if they are nervous or semi feral as I thought I wasn't going to get there with these 2 but in a very short space of time, they're the most living wee cats! Thanks very much, Crosskennan.
Darwin is black and white and Delilah is the all-black one.
We still have three beautiful kittens looking for that special home; they haven't got fancy names yet; but you can find them on our website under Tortie, Tabby and Blackie. They are improving but they do need time.
Thomas came into us in October from another rescue after being picked up as a sick stray. Originally we were to find him a new home but due to his age and health this proved difficult; so he moved into the sanctuary manager's home where he could lie by the fire, keep Naughty Kitten company and live out his final days which the vets reckoned would be days as opposed to weeks.
Well he is still with us and although his health isn't great he is a happy cat, who has become obsessed with dinner time and grooming time (not necessarily in that order).
His age is unknown but estimated to be in the late teens and we have knowledge of just how long he has been straying except some people saying he's been about over 5 years. His affectionate nature and his quick learning of the litter tray etc suggests that some time in his long lifetime he has known some love or care; sadly his state on rescue does suggest he went without love and care for a long time.
We are so happy to see him enjoying life, playing and rushing over to greet his person for a groom.
Willow and Gordon
Willow and Gordon arrived in with two separate rescues; Willow being found malnourished and alone while Gordon was lifted with his siblings when a member of the public found them dumped at little more than 6 weeks old. Willow was put in with Gordon's litter for company and they all took to each other brilliantly; Willow and Gordon the the most adventurous and curious of the group we knew with their striking coats and personalities they wouldn't be with us long once they were ready to find new homes. Unsurprisingly we were inundated; what was surprising for us though was many of the homes rejected Gordon due to his age whenever we received other ginger kittens in. By this point Gordon was 11 weeks old and we had just taken in 3 4 week old orphaned gingers.
Thankfully, not all the homes turned away from him for being a few weeks older and when Ruth put her application in we were very hopeful and excited for the kitties!
My 15 yr old son had always loved ginger cats, so when we saw Gordon looking a home we knew he was destined to come to us. But we didn’t want him to be without company, so we expressed an interest in Willow (previously Cali) as well and went to visit.
Within two weeks they had come home to join us, had taken over our house and our lives, and friends and family are getting daily photos of their antics! I work from home so they keep me company throughout the day, and always seem to appear when food is on the go. Between zoomies around the house at all hours, to climbing the blinds, sleeping on the bed or in the wardrobe(!), and climbing and swinging from the Christmas tree, we think they’ve made themselves at home. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our home is now complete.
Everyone we dealt with within Crosskennan Lane was excellent and clearly loved the animals in their care. We would encourage everyone to adopt via there, as it would be clear the animals welfare is the priority.
Gordon's remaining sister Tortie is still waiting for a home of her own; she is nervous and will need some time and TLC but she will make someone a wonderful house cat.
We selected Crosskennan Lane as our go to sanctuary and I’m so delighted we did.
We got a call from Cynthia a few days after e-mailing our re-homing questionnaire through to Crosskennan, inviting us up to see their kittens available for re-homing. When we met up at the sanctuary she was amazing, so friendly and knowledgeable, she talked us through the adoption process and introduced us to all their kittens.
Now for the hardest part - a litter of 6 beautiful wee kittens, we could only take 2 but there were at least 3 that stole our hearts !
We confirmed the same afternoon we would love to adopt the 2 little sister torties. 2 days later I went back to Cynthia about the 3rd little kitten sister who stole my heart completely. Initially it wasn’t to be, as the kittens needed to go in pairs, but as fate would have it, we got a call a few days after that, to advise all 3 could be ours.
And the rest is history…. Although the 3rd little sister has since turned out to be a brother lol….
Skye, Sapphire and Shadow have been part of our family for 4 weeks now - they’ve settled in extremely well, already they have the run of the house and their individual personalities are shining through. They bring so much joy to our whole family day and daily.
We can’t thank Crosskennan enough, and particularly Cynthia in our case, both for choosing us, but moreover for the amazing care and commitment they have towards all their animals at the sanctuary.
Truly brilliant people. Thank you so much, we will forever support you in any way we can. xx
Skye, Sapphire and Shadow's mother and brother are still waiting for a home together. Look for Joy and Joe on our website!
We've been thankfully able to help others with cat health, vet bills, food, etc, this year as well as put to use our resources for others to save lives; like lending out a trap to a volunteer to help catch a feral kitten.
Thanks to Crosskennan lending us their cat trap we were able to catch this elusive wee feral kitten, then get her to the vets to be spayed and chipped before she got pregnant .She now has her paws firmly under the table as our second feral barn cat .
This year we would like to also welcome a new member of the volunteer team, who we quite literally chucked into the deep end!
I first started volunteering at CLAS in July this year. This came about after I became aware of 14 kittens that desperately needed help as all were very ill with cat flu. I tried a few different rescues but CLAS was the only one who offered to help, to say I was grateful was an understatement.
Not only did they take all 14 kittens into the sanctuary but they provided all the medical help they needed and all survived and most have now gone on to find great homes (2 with me). I had often thought that I would like to volunteer at an animal sanctuary and so I called up and ask Lyn if that would be possible and she said yes. Although I think the box of chocolates I brought for her might have swayed it a little!
I work with the cats and I love every moment of it. After a few months, I have also gotten involved with the re-homing of the many cats/kittens in our care. To date, I have helped to re-home at least 12 kittens from the sanctuary and 11 kittens/cats via our Home from Home service. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously as both the sanctuary and I personally want nothing but the best for the animals in our care but when you find just the right home for each of them there is no better feeling.
I can honestly say that I feel privileged to be able, in some small way, to work with and help find forever homes for these animals, it is so rewarding.
Cynthia of course was bitten by the CLAS bug and took some of her 'work' home with her. Timmy, Tommy and Ollie.
That is some of the stories of the cats and kittens who have been saved and found homes this year.
At the current time we have fifty eight cats in our care. Of these over 60% will probably still be with us by this time next year; reinforcing the fact that a lot of what we do is providing a sanctuary, but this year we have rehomed 106 cats both from the sanctuary and through home from home. Most of the cats currently in our care have health issues or are older. At this moment we have over 15 cats and kittens needing homes (many of whom will require extra time, care and some will need special care or indoor only homes).
In the end we want to provide animals with a happy home; one where they are safe, happy and their needs are met; and for some the best home they could ask for is the sanctuary and we are honored to be a part of their lives each day and so grateful that we are able to offer this to them.
You can help support cats at the sanctuary by sponsoring one of our Sponsor Cats -