Rescue cat Albany will celebrate his third birthday on August 10 with a special dinner and a birthday card. Clair Crook gives him a preview. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad (ANA)
Rescue cat Albany will celebrate his third birthday on August 10 with a special dinner and a birthday card. Clair Crook gives him a preview. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad (ANA)

Sisters-in-claws’ moggie birthday parties

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Aug 7, 2021

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Durban - Sisters-in-law Clair and Claire Crook care for 140 rescued cats and kittens ‒ as well as six dogs ‒ with each animal getting a birthday card on his/her birthday.

The pair run The Triumphant Animal Welfare Foundation (TAWF) in Pinetown and the next birthday on their very full kitchen whiteboard is Albany, who will turn three-years-old on August 10.

Each cat gets a special dinner and birthday card, with all the cards from past birthdays decorating the walls of the kitchen.

The cards are also the front page of many behind-the-scenes rescue stories.

Clair Crook said Albany was found severely injured, believed to have been hit by a car, when he was about a year old.

With a broken jaw and badly injured eye, Albany was nursed back to health by the two women, who describe him as “a very chilled cat”.

When the Independent on Saturday visited the shelter this week, Albany was very relaxed, posing for a photograph. Many of the cats gathered around him, while others lay lazily warming on the bricks in the sun close by and keeping a close watch on proceedings.

Sisters-in-law Claire and Clair Crook never take a day off, with 140 cats to look after at The Triumphant Animal Welfare Foundation in Pinetown. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Running the shelter is a 24/7 job for the two women, with three meals prepared and put out for all the animals every day, as well as cleaning and ensuring all the animals are healthy. Crook said there’s no such thing as taking a break, including public holidays and even Christmas Day.

They started making birthday cards in 2014 when there were 13 cats and three dogs at the shelter. Rescue stories include Honey, who was viciously mauled by dogs. Her owner had decided she no longer wanted Honey, so had stopped feeding her in the hope she would just go away. Honey went next door to look for food and the dogs attacked her.

Luke had boiling water thrown across his face, with the flesh turning septic, while Milo was kicked in the face, badly damaging an eye.

TAWF is a non-profit organisation and a non-kill shelter. The team also feeds two feral colonies.

“So we also get the ’mommies’ from feral groups, as we don’t turn any animal away,” said Crook.

That includes a number of special needs cats which live at the shelter, including Lexi who was found paralysed and only able to move her eyes when rescued. She has since regained movement in the front half of her body and, being playful, she pulls herself around on her front paws. With Lexi are two “wobbly kittens” MJ and Indigo. “Wobbly kitten” syndrome is a neurological disorder which creates balance issues and the kittens struggle to walk, appearing drunk.

Crook said that before lockdown, the shelter had 110 cats which has now grown to 143. She added that since the start of lockdown, the number of abandoned cats and feral colonies around the city had surged. TAWF are always looking for forever homes for the cats, with adoption fees covering vaccinations and sterilisation.

“Due to job losses, some people could no longer afford to keep their cats, while others dumped their animals, fearing cats could get Covid. The feral colonies have also grown as feeding of some colonies stopped, which saw those cats joining other colonies to get food,” said Crook.

TAWF is one of the cat rescue organisations being considered for inclusion in the 2022 Compass Cares Cats Calendar, which Petal ‘N Paws 2021 calendar was snapped up by cat lovers. The annual calendar raises funds for cat sanctuaries across the city.

TAWF are always looking for homes for their cats (adoption fee is R600 to cover vaccinations and sterilisation). For more information contact 082 460 3188, or email [email protected]

The Independent on Saturday

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