Could you offer a cat a new home for the new year?

December 31 2012
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Christmas is barely over but some pets given as gifts will begin the new year looking for a new home, as one animal charity founder knows only too well.

Could you offer a cat a new home for the new year?

Christmas is barely over but some pets given as gifts will begin the new year looking for a new home, as one animal charity founder knows only too well. Volunteer Raania with one of the cats

Christine Bayka, who runs The Moggery cat rehoming centre in Bishopston, says that every year the phone starts ringing on Boxing Day as people decide they can’t care for their new cat.

She said: “The most common situation is that the grandparents arrive for Christmas with a surprise kitten – and the cats that end up with us are the lucky ones. Some are left in boxes or by the side of the road. We always appeal to people not to buy animals as presents – they are an 18-year commitment.”

It is 16 years since Christine founded The Moggery, using her own money and attracting what financial support she could from fellow animal lovers.

At the time, Christine was working as a teacher, tending to several orphaned kittens in the school boiler room during her breaks. But the “cat work”, as she refers to it, soon became a full-time occupation.

The Moggery costs around £3,000 a month to run, with vets’ bills making up a large proportion as each cat that comes through the door is neutered, microchipped and given the treatment it needs before going to a new home.

Regular fundraising events such as an annual auction, Christmas fair, sponsored walk and collections at local supermarkets help to meet some of the costs, as do donations handed over by people adopting a cat from The Moggery.

Some cats are sponsored by Bristol residents while one generous benefactor, Gerry Dayer, left money to the charity which enabled work to create more room to house the animals – now known as the Dayer Suite.

The Moggery is also supported by some rather high-profile patrons, with round-the-world yachtsman Tony Bullimore, broadcaster Piers Morgan and weatherman Ian Ferguson lending their names to the cause.

Christine said: “We are very lucky to have our patrons. I contacted Piers after he gave us a book to auction and he wrote back saying ‘count me in’. Tony Bullimore has also opened auctions for us.

“Our most hands-on patron is Ian Ferguson who comes to open our fundraising events in between telling us it’s going to rain. He has also adopted two black cats, which are the hardest to rehome.”

With around 10 requests a day to take in cats, the work is non-stop and a small number of dedicated volunteers help to feed the cats and clean up – but more are always needed.

And even after so many years running the charity Christine says the cruelty and callousness of some people still “takes your breath away”. Kittens at The Moggery

But there is satisfaction in finding new homes for cats and plenty of moments to raise a smile. Christine said: “I thought the name The Moggery was self-explanatory but over the years we have been asked to take in a golden eagle, a pig, and two goats. Once we were even asked to take a horse and I had to explain it probably wouldn’t fit through the front door.”

She added: “Naming the cats is my perk, too. Sometime I have a theme, like Christmas, or I name them for the months. Any cats that come in on May 4 get a Star Wars-related name, or during the General Election politicians’ names. We even once, in desperation, used tomato varieties and called one cat that kept biting us Jersey Devil.”

This month, the charity is launching its Moggery 500 appeal, which aims to find 500 people who will sign up to donate £2 or more each month to the charity, which will cover vital expenses such as dry food and litter.

There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved with the charity, from sponsorship to taking care of the cats, transporting them to the vets or even visiting the animals in their new homes.

And, of course, the charity is always happy to hear from anyone who is prepared to make the commitment and offer a home to a new feline friend.

Contact The Moggery on 0117 924 3128 or visit