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Summary of the Chiltern Branch achievements in 2016

27 March 2017

First and foremost we homed 62 cats and kittens last year (including direct homings), which is more than one cat per week! Emma joined us as our 4th fosterer, bringing the number of pens that the branch has up to 9. We have carried out many home visits with the majority of these resulting in successful adoptions. Thanks go to our dedicated fosterers for all the time and care they give to sometimes rather challenging residents.

2016 was another very busy year for the welfare, ferals and strays side of the branch. 73 cats were rehomed, relocated or trapped, neutered and returned. 6 cats were reunited with their owners with our assistance..

Neutering is as important an activity for us as rehoming because it is just as important to manage the cat population so as to avoid there being even more cats which need a new home at some point in their lives. We take part in World Spay Day each year to spread the word about the benefits of neutering. 228 cats were neutered in 2016 with financial help from the branch. 

Fundraising keeps the bank account topped up and 2016 was another successful year with over £4,000 raised. We had our usual mix of stalls and bucket collections but the highlight event was our sponsored Chess Valley Walk in July. Six people took part and we raised over £800 on our ten mile walk in beautiful countryside on a lovely sunny day. We now hold our popular bottle tombola at the Bucks County Show and we are very grateful to everyone who donates. We also have a successful soft toy tombola, where every ticket wins a prize, and Carole does a great job of organising this. Every year we have the opportunity to fundraise at Pets at Home, which involves one lucky volunteer wearing the ‘Harry’ cat costume; great on a cold day but not so brilliant when it is hot. Jacqui, our green-fingered Website Officer, grew a selection of lovely plants with sales totalling £124 and the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishings raffled a gorgeous Christmas Hamper and raised £125. Our Christmas Fair was another highlight and we published our third Chiltern Branch Calendar featuring cats and kittens we have helped and it sold out in record time. We have a wonderful team of volunteers who give up their free time to fundraise for the Branch and their combined efforts mean that we can continue to care for and rehome many cats and kittens in our area so thank you everyone!

There are many ways to support us including making a one-off or regular donation to our bank account or taking part in either the Cats Protection Lottery or local Vale Lottery. Donations can also be made through JustGiving and signing up to easyfundraising or Give as you Live means that you can make a donation while shopping online at no extra cost.

Our total income from adoption fees, donations and general fundraising came to just under £26,500 which is a little lower than 2015. We were also advised from the National Cat Centre that a legacy payment had been made to our branch which we received into our holding fund at the beginning of 2017 which gives us the opportunity to do more in our local area to help cats and kittens in need. We do still however depend on donations and fundraising to continue to do our work, so a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the branch and the cats that we help. We currently have 104 registered supporters. Each year we have a few people making regular monthly donations into our branch funds on an ongoing basis which helps greatly, especially as we are still hoping to increase our fostering space, and this could be funded in this way. We also get adhoc donations through, for instance, justgiving.com which has raised over £3,700 so far.

Supporters have also bought several items for our foster cats from our Amazon wishlist. We also benefit from retailers donating to us when our supporters shop online via easyfundraising.com. We have 22 supporters signed up to easyfundraising.com and between them they have earned the branch over £500 over the last 4 years.

On average around 1100 people visit our website every month. The most popular sections are cats available for adoption, neutering information, news stories and details of upcoming fundraising events. Our facebook supporters now total over 1000 and it continues to be very useful. We have homed cats directly through facebook, and advertise our fundraising events, cat care, success stories and lost cats. Supporters have donated cat food and other items, and it keeps us in the public eye.We have continued to use our Twitter account to post daily about our cats available for adoption, as well as providing messages about the work of our Ferals and Welfare team, the importance of neutering & vaccinations, advertising our events and fundraising ideas. We also tweet about lost and found cats in the area and know that at least one cat was reunited with his owner as a direct result of someone seeing one of our messages! At the end of 2015 we had just over 1,500 followers; we now have over 2,400. We made over 1 million Twitter Impressions in 2015 (an Impression is the delivery of one of our Tweets to an account's Twitter stream). In 2016, we increased this to 2.2 million impressions, helping us to reach more people than ever before. 

In summary it has been a busy year again, which as always relies on a team of dedicated volunteers. We are lucky to have such a team. We all have our own parts to play in the process of taking a cat in and the final rehoming process. Whether it's an abandoned domestic, a much loved pet, who for various reasons has to be rehomed, or feisty feral that, at the time doesn't fully appreciate our efforts to get it somewhere better than where it was.

Sadly we are losing some wonderful volunteers that are having to move on with their lives, Nicole, who has headed up the Feral and Welfare team for many years, Paul who has been a very active member of her team and Susan and Andrew who have been fostering many moggies and helping them on in their lives. We all owe them a huge thank you on behalf of all the cats (and people) who they have helped and we will strive to continue their good work.

We are always looking for more volunteers and we have some new people lined up to join the team. Fosterers are especially needed - preferably with room for a double pen in their garden!!