A Devon cat welfare charity has launched a £100,000 fundraising campaign in response to the increasing demand for its help.
Hector’s House Cat Rescue was set up by Zara Oldfield in 2020 during the Covid pandemic to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome abandoned unneutered tom cats. It became a registered charity in November 2020 and has grown to become one of the biggest cat welfare charities in the region, operating across Devon.
The charity now is planning to set up a dedicated centre to double the number of cat pens to 20 and provide space for visitors, storage, education, community and fundraising events, and outreach activities such as microchipping.
The charity has been offered a substantial legacy donation towards purchasing a site or building, and it has now launched a £100,000 appeal to raise the rest of the money needed to buy and equip a suitable dedicated centre to serve as the charity’s HQ.
The Hector’s House Building Fund campaign was launched at a gathering of the charity’s supporters and volunteers, with a dedicated appeal page now live on the Go Fund Me website.
The Torbay-based charity has recently seen growing demand from an increase in the number of older cats with health problems being abandoned, and owners surrendering their pets due to the cost of vet treatment.
There is also the legacy of the pandemic, with abandoned unneutered cats giving birth in the wild. On Monday, the charity took in three kittens that were rescued from a car in a scrapyard in South Devon, with no sign of the mother. They are being hand-reared in foster care and will eventually be rehomed as domestic cats.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “The demand on the charity is ever increasing, and running the charity out of the founder’s home is no longer sustainable. In order to keep the charity running long-term, and for it to grow and help more people and cats in the Devon area, Hector’s House Cat Rescue is looking to buy a permanent site or building to house the charity’s operations.”
Hector’s House Cat Rescue was initially set up to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome unneutered male cats in Torbay, but has grown to a team of 138 volunteers, including a network of fosterers, fundraisers and outreach volunteers, responding to a wide range of cat-related issues and emergencies right across Devon.
It provides neutering and microchipping for feral cats, takes in injured and pregnant stray cats, along with feral kittens, and will help anyone overwhelmed by an unexpectedly pregnant cat by taking in the mum and kittens, returning the mum neutered and microchipped, and rehoming the kittens.
The charity has also recently carried out a programme of free microchipping, and has welcomed a change in the law requiring all cats to be microchipped by June 10, 2024.
Zara Oldfield was inspired to set up the charity at her home in Audley Avenue, Torquay, after the disappearance of her own cat Hector in the summer of 2018. He has never been found.
The charity, registered in November 2020, rescued and rehomed more than 300 cats in its first year. In the 12 months to December 2022 the charity took in 561 cats and kittens, and so far in 2023 up to mid-May has taken in 274, including 54 from a colony at a house in Silverton in March.
Zara said: “Bringing all our services together in a dedicated centre is the next logical step due to the increasing demand for help that we are seeing. The charity has outgrown my house, and needs space to grow further so we can help more cats.”
Recent rescues include Felix, who was found in a bush in Moor Lane, Torquay, in April 2023, with injuries believed to be caused by a collision with a car. He was taken to an emergency vet in Kingsbridge, where he was found to have suffered broken bones some time before. His owner was traced through his microchip and it turned out he had gone missing eight years earlier. They were unable to take him back, so they surrendered him to the charity which paid for his treatment and he is now in a foster home.
Lazarus was found badly injured and close to death in woodland near Newton Abbot in November 2021. He recovered after vet treatment including surgery costing more than £7,000, and was rehomed with a Hector’s House Cat Rescue volunteer.
Volunteers are regularly called to scan reported stray cats for a microchip, and have often reunited missing cats with their owners. In one case a cat was returned to its owner in Newton Abbot after being missing for 13 years after it was reported at a caravan park in Paignton in August 2021. In another case Jimi, named after the guitarist Jimi Hendrix, was returned to his owner in October 2022 after six years, when he was found at a holiday home in Babbacombe, Torquay.
Find out more about the Hector’s House Building Fund on the Go Fund Me website at https://www.gofundme.com/f/hectors-house-building-fund; Hector’s House website at https://www.hectorshousecatrescue.co.uk/; and its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hectorshouseresidents/.
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