FOSTER MUM TO RESCUE MANAGER…
As Jenny is a devoted animal lover and has volunteered for many rescues in the past it was only fitting that she wanted to foster for a local rescue that needed local support as it began its journey to grow. Jenny is a full time carer for her disabled daughter and has 7 cats of her own currently. She has had animals all her life, including cats, dogs and horses, and has worked for multiple charities in the past that help raise awareness for animals in the UK and abroad. In 2020 a few months into the pandemic, Jenny and her friend Sandra were stood at the front of her house with Sandra’s dogs, talking. Hayley just so happened to be walking her dogs at the time so naturally they met and bonded over dogs and animals, coming to realise they lived just around the corner from each other. Hayley mentioned that she was the founder of an animal rescue charity, Saving Strays, and that she was looking for people to foster for her. Jenny had 7 cats of her own at that point and had fostered for other charities in the past, she had also just had to say goodbye to one of her oldest cats, Avid, and felt like she wanted to help; in his memory. In August 2020, her first two foster kittens arrived. They were semi feral and were not able to be touched at all. Thankfully, Jenny had experience with feral cats from previous fostering so this wasn’t a challenge for her at all. Misty and Smokey stayed for about 2 weeks and made great progress but were adopted quite quickly as they were both stunning. After this, things snowballed!
Three more kittens came along who were named Ragnar, Lagertha and Remus. They were socialised so were very cuddly and had no issues, again they were adopted. The biggest litter and Jenny’s first set of very young kittens and their mum came in the middle of August. There were 6 kittens in total along with mum, Narla. Jenny made a space in her bedroom with blankets, toys, litter trays, puppy pads and everything they’d need. With the help of her daughter, Chloe, they were weaned, socialised and grew up to be the most placid kittens ever. This was our Game of Thrones litter!
The next challenge came when a family of feral kittens and their mum came in. Doris, the mum, and her four children Neo, Dozer, Niobe and Trinity. Everyone loves a Matrix theme! They were so feral and scared they had to be in cages but this wasn’t difficult for Jenny, she was able to get them to a point where they were downstairs socialising with her own cats and would eventually eat with them. The two girls were adopted quickly and so was their beautiful mum, Doris. Neo and Dozer stayed with Jenny for further development. The progress these two boys have made is unbelievable thanks to Jenny. Once they were used to the house and other cats, they started sleeping in Jenny’s room more and more and eventually started sleeping on the bed. Neo was definitely the more confident one of the two and he helped Dozer to grow in confidence too. The goal was to get these boys adopted, and although they were, it unfortunately didn’t work out. They came back to Jenny’s house after 2 months of being away and slotted right back in, as if they’d never left. Dozer was actually able to be stroked by Jenny’s daughter, Chloe, for the first time, which is amazing progress for such a feral boy! This just goes to show how comfortable they were and how Jenny has created a welcoming environment in her home for all her fosters.
Jenny became the Foster and Aftercare Manager at the end of September 2020. She liaised with fosterers and assisted them with any issues they had, and she followed up on successful adoptions to check how they were getting on in their new homes. In December, Jenny offered to make the shed in her back garden into a cattery. Along with Saving Strays, she made the inside of her shed into a safe haven for cats. The shed was fully waterproofed, had electricity and was carpeted and warm. At this point, crates were used to separate the cats that came in. In December, she took in a litter of kittens that had been born at Hayley’s house. They were named the reindeer babies after being born at Christmas. There were 6 kittens but one of them stood out. It was Comet, the runt of the litter, who was being bullied by her siblings. Jenny separated them as Comet was terrified and constantly screamed at them all. She carried her around in the hood of her hoodie and gave her the extra love she needed. Jenny pushed for a diagnosis with the vets as she was very wobbly when walking and fell over a lot. She was diagnosed with Cerebellar Hypoplasia. It was decided that she would stay in long term foster with Jenny and her siblings were moved to another foster home. With the illness Comet needed additional support and someone who understood her needs as well as the financial implications.
In February 2021, another special case came in. It was a male cat who Jenny named; Lincoln. He’d been straying for a while and was so very skinny. He had no fur on his back end and was covered in scabs. As soon as he came in, Jenny bathed him and got him feeling fresh and clean. He was brought into her house instead of staying in the cattery as he needed the extra attention and love. Within the month, he had put significant weight on, his fur was growing back, his skin was clearing and he was such a happy boy. It wasn’t looking good for him but Jenny was able to turn it around and he was successfully adopted and is living his best life in his forever home! Lincoln is now called Teddy and was adopted by one of Saving Strays Volunteers.
It was around this time that Jenny swapped roles and became the Rescue and Surrender Manager, as all cats would come into the cattery first to be treated and assessed to go to the right foster home. Jenny was the person who dealt with people surrendering their own pets or strays that needed to come in. She communicated and arranged them coming into the charity and this has been her role ever since, as well as fostering in her house and caring for the cattery cats.
The rescue put significant renovations in place to support additional cats coming in and Jenny to care for them. The cattery was extended with a new section and new pens in order to help more cats. In 2021, Jenny fostered 145 cats and kittens, some who stayed in the cattery and some who stayed in her house. Among these was another very special case. A mum cat came in from a bad situation after losing two of her kittens. She still had 3 left and unfortunately they came in sick with cat flu. One of the kittens in particular, the smallest one, Malia, was not getting better. The cat flu had set off conjunctivitis which then ulcerated and no treatment was working. Jenny fought hard to keep this little girl alive and made sure to get second opinions on her care. She ended up having her eye removed and Jenny and her daughter were with her every step of the way. Jenny took her to all her appointments and follow ups, as she got an infection after her surgery. She cleaned her eye out multiple times a day and emptied it from all the pus that was inside. To support the veterinary bills for Malia’s care Jenny set up a GoFundMe and managed to raise over £1,000 for Malia’s surgery, treatment and medications.
In November 2021, Jenny organised an event for the charity, a Christmas Fundraiser. This fundraising project was solely managed by Jenny and on the day she was helped massively by all the volunteers. It was a successful event that raised awareness for Saving Strays and the animals and raising £650!
Recently, Jenny cared for an old boy who came in, named Crookshanks. He was living in a garage with his friend. Crookshanks was taken to the vets and estimated to be around 18 years old. He stayed with Jenny in long term foster for a few weeks, living his best life and being loved and cuddled 24/7. Unfortunately he had to be euthanised due to his age and health conditions but he was very loved and looked after in his final weeks.
Jenny is also qualified in cat first aid and her own cats have gotten to old ages so she has the experience and knowledge to help if anything happened. Jenny is such a dedicated person. She makes sure all the animals are helped and will do anything for them. She is currently still the Rescue and Surrender Manager and has cats and kittens of different ages in her care. She loves all animals and can’t see herself doing anything but this! Jenny’s story and journey with Saving Strays is one to be admired and the rescue can’t thank her enough for everything she does!