Chats de Chatillon – the cat refuge with a HUGE heart
If you follow me or my business page on Facebook you might have noticed a bit of a cat-theme going on recently. That’s because I have been sharing stories and fund-raising posts about Chats de Chatillon, a cat refuge based near Parthenay, France. For those that don’t know the link between my business and the refuge, I’ll try and keep it brief.
A few weeks ago I received an email from my friend Micala telling me that a lady named Judy would be getting in touch. Judy had contacted Micala because she needed help with social media marketing and designing a new website. A few days later I had a call from Judy and I was quickly and easily persuaded to help design a new website and manage their Google My Business site. I learnt a lot about the cat refuge in that short call, but when I checked out the Facebook page, I was caught – hook, line and sinker!
My mission is to improve the business website, get more hits on their Google My Business page, and ultimately see more animals being adopted.
The only way to navigate some administration hurdles with the original website was to start from scratch. Create a new site that would be quick and easy for Judy to update, and include a secure donation link. So I could focus on the Google site I enlisted Rob Smith to help with the website. As an experienced web designer he can do it much quicker and easier than me, and will host and manage the new site.
So that’s where we are at this moment in time. Updating the Google site page is done by ‘yours truly’ every morning, using the Facebook posts that Judy writes. And Rob is meticulously creating a new site with English and French versions of each page.
I copy most of Judy’s posts word for word, because if you read any of her updates, every sentence demonstrates the love and devotion to every single one of the animals in her care.
Let me give you an example. This is the story of Blossom, who I was fortunate to meet on my visit at the weekend.
URGENT APPEAL for BLOSSOM
“We are launching an urgent appeal to find either a foster or adoptive family for this precious girl.
She is 5 years old and during this time has had 5 owners. The last owner dangled, and dropped her repeatedly from a 3rd storey apartment, amongst other acts of cruelty. In spite of this Blossom is very affectionate and has so much love to give. She wants nothing more than to be safe in a home, loved and cherished. She is very insecure with other pets and would need to be the only one.
Blossom has settled well into the refuge, but we cannot give this darling girl all the attention that she so badly needs. And it breaks our hearts to walk away from her to tend to so many others.
Normal adoption fees do not apply. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you think that you can help. Thank you”
That was posted on the Facebook page on 28th June, and shared to the Google site the following morning. Yesterday, the day after my visit to Chats de Chatillon, Judy shared the fantastic news on Facebook that Blossom had been adopted!
BLOSSOM FINDS A FAMILY
My goodness, what an emotional and tearful week this has been. Will you please share our immense joy tonight knowing that BLOSSOM has found at last, a wonderful forever home, safe in the knowledge that she will be loved and protected for the rest of her life? Thank you so much to the kind family that have given her a future destined for happiness. In the short time that she has been with us, it has been a privilege to know such a beautiful, kind and forgiving little girl.
We shall miss you terribly Blossom, but your very special new family will be able to give you all what we cannot, and it time for us to let go. God bless you little pudding.
And that my lovely friends is why I am involved with this amazing cat refuge. I finally got to meet Judy and her husband Alan last Saturday. Myself and Debbie took a trip out with a car-load of cat food, cat litter, treats and toys donated by the good customers of the Ark79 Animal Charity Association.
Injured and abused
When we arrived at 11am we interrupted Judy’s daily routine of feeding, cleaning and cuddling. Each and every cat and kitten receives special individual attention. Some were abandoned, others are strays and a few have been injured, or abused, like poor Blossom.
At the moment every cabin is taken, and foster families are hand-rearing several orphaned kittens. One cabin holds Cleopatra and her little family, including two orphaned ones that she took under her wing. Another is the home of Trixie and her little brood. Next door, and in total isolation, is pretty little Pebbles who has been diagnosed with Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV). When she arrived Pebbles weighed only 1 kg and she was in a lot of pain. Because of her condition, it will be an extra special person that will adopt her.
There is some good news though. When the lovely people at Hot Tubs in France heard about the fund-raising, and Pebbles’ story they offered to sponsor her. They pay a set amount to Chats de Chatillon each month, which helps to pay for her ongoing treatment and the special diet that Pebbles needs. With the money received from other generous donations, the refuge is now able to buy a portable isolation unit, so that Pebbles can go outside of the cabin. She will still be isolated, but can’t infect any of the others cats. And she will be able to lie in the grass and feel the warm sun on the back.
I met Pebbles at the weekend, but sadly didn’t get a chance to cuddle her. I did leave her a few little tasty treats though. And when her noisy kitten neighbours quietened down, I saw her climb down to check them out.
Building up trust
I was very lucky to meet Clemence on Saturday too. Judy had previously told me that people often visit the cat refuge to help out or just to spend time with the animals. This benefits the cats and kittens because it gives them some extra special love and attention, and helps to build their trust. And in Clemence’s case, as soon as she saw the kittens her face lit up. She didn’t stop smiling, and is so gentle with them, and them with her. I’m sure she would move in with them if she could.
The time went too quickly though, and after an hour spent with three orphaned kittens who were causing mayhem in the living room, it was time to go.
I listened to Judy and Alan telling us why they set up the cat refuge, and the rules and regulations they had to satisfy. And you cannot question their dedication and determination to provide a sanctuary for all these beautiful creatures. I wanted to take every single one of those adorable animals home with me, but I had to leave empty-handed. On the trip back with Debbie, we talked non-stop about which one was our favourite. But every time we mentioned one name, we came up with a dozen more.
Judy and Alan are hoping to take a day off soon to say Thank You in person to the lovely people at Ark79, and to Nicola and Tim from Hot Tubs In France when they are in Sainte Soline at the end of July.
Me and Debbie are already planning another day trip to the cat refuge. Until then I’m going to be extra nice to my hubby and see if I can persuade him to change his mind. I don’t want to be leaving Chats de Chatillon empty-handed next time.
Can you help?
With Micala’s help we are trying to raise vital funds for Chats de Chatillon cat refuge to enable them to keep doing their amazing work. We want to put together a lovely feline Pamper Hamper as a top raffle prize (for pampering a very lucky cat, not the cat’s owner!). If you can help by donating cat-related products, such as grooming brushes, treats or toys, please get in touch. Donations need to be received by 10th July so that we can start advertising and selling the raffle tickets.
Alternatively, you can donate cat food, cat litter, toys, bedding, or money, which goes towards ever-increasing maintenance and vets bills. Contact me or Chats de Chatillon via our Facebook pages to arrange drop-off points. If you would like to sponsor a gorgeous fur baby, please get in touch with Judy.
And Thank You to every one who has made a donation so far. The impact you have had on these little tiny lives is absolutely incredible.