The National Careline Blog
11 March 2022
In our latest blog we shine the spotlight on the wonderful work done by Paws Protect to help victims of domestic abuse to get free from the people who are abusing them.
Our helpline takes many calls from people suffering controlling and coercive behaviour and many victims will suffer the abuse as they are worried that they will not be able to find an alternative place to live which allows pets. Read on to see how the service that Paws Protect provides helps people in this situation gain their freedom and leave their abusive homelife behind.
Paws Protect is Cats Protection’s free, confidential cat fostering service for people fleeing domestic abuse.
With one in four adult women estimated to experience some form of domestic abuse, and victim-survivors aged 61+ being much more likely to experience abuse from an adult family member or current intimate partner, Paws Protect recognises the importance of removing barriers to empower survivors to leave abusive environments.
26% of households own a cat, meaning there are 10.8 million pet cats, and because we understand that pets are often used as part of coercive control, Paws Protect exists to help remove the barrier that pets may present when a survivor chooses to leave. On average, it takes a survivor of domestic abuse three years to ask for help, and older victims experience abuse for twice as long before seeking help as those aged under 61.
Paws Protect is a small, female-only team who travel all over the south east in order to run the service, which currently operates in London, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Bedfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
We speak to cat owners when they are at their most vulnerable, and we work to reassure them that we can help keep their cat safe so they can get themselves and their families to safety.
After receiving a referral, we arrange to collect the cat in a safe location and then bring them in to foster care, where they are loved and cared for until their owner is safe and able to have their pet back. During their time in foster care all cats will be microchipped, neutered, vaccinated and kept up to date with flea and wormer treatments – all free of charge.
Leaving an abusive situation is a very emotional time for the owner, who, in addition, is devastated to be parted from their cat who may be the only constant they have had in their lives for some time. We offer all owners reassurance, kindness and do our best to help in any way we can.
We keep in touch with both the owner and fosterer throughout the foster placement, including monthly updates with photos that are kindly provided by our dedicated fosterers. Paws Protect is totally confidential, to keep everyone involved safe.
Of course, the best part is when an owner gets in touch to let us know they have secured a safe new home and are ready to be reunited with their cat. It is a real pleasure to see how the new house becomes a home when the cat arrives back – tears are very often shed.
Since 2017, we have taken over 1,500 referrals to the service and have helped nearly 300 families flee domestic abuse. We continue to grow year on year; helping both cats and people flee from domestic abuse.