Former shop mannequin set to work at Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre

Former shop mannequin set to work at Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre

It’s not the catwalk it was originally designed for, but a 6ft clothes mannequin has found an unlikely new purpose – at Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre. The unusual addition to the centre was donated by a shop in Crawley to model the protective uniform required by staff working with sick cats in the isolation wing.

Whereas once the dummy would have been showing off the latest high street fashions, it can now be found donning disposable overalls, apron, gloves, hat and shoe covers at the centre in Lewes Road, Chelwood Gate. And while the mannequin has been raising a smile among the team, its name – Roberta – was chosen by staff as a touching tribute to their colleague Rob White, a cat care assistant at the centre who died earlier this year.

Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre Deputy Manager Jonathan Ramsden said the isolation wing is used to care for cats and kittens with suspected or confirmed infectious diseases such as cat flu, ringworm or feline parvovirus. He said: “It is hugely important that we care for cats with infectious conditions in the isolation wing to prevent illnesses spreading throughout the centre. We care for around 150 cats at any one time, and some conditions can be fatal if they are passed to vulnerable cats or young kittens. Scrupulous attention is given to hygiene in the isolation wing to treat cats and prevent the spread of disease, and this includes wearing a suit of disposable, protective clothing. It’s very important the full set of clothing is worn properly, so it’s handy to have an example at the door. Our previous dummy was a very cobbled-together affair, so we’re delighted with our purpose-made mannequin. It may not be the most stylish of outfits, but this protective clothing really does help us to nurse sick cats back to health and prevent others from developing serious illnesses.”

Jonathan added that many infectious diseases in cats can be prevented through regular vaccinations, flea and worming treatment. He said: “The best treatment is always prevention and you can help to keep your pet cat happy and healthy through regular annual vaccination and good parasite control. Kittens should receive their first vaccination at 9 weeks of age and then a second about 3 – 4 weeks later. These vital vaccinations help the cat to build essential antibodies which protect them against some of the most common and harmful diseases, particularly FeLV and Parvovirus and some forms of cat flu. It’s also important to keep up with your cat’s parasite control, particularly against worms and fleas. As well as carrying and transmitting disease, fleas can cause cats to suffer an allergic reaction to their saliva known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Heavy burdens of fleas can cause anemia which, if left untreated, can be fatal, particularly to kittens.”

One cat who has previously been cared for in the Isolation Wing and is now ready to find a new home is Alfie. Four-year-old Alfie came into the centre earlier this month with a skin condition that was suspected to be infectious. After a short stay in the wing, it was established the condition could be treated with medication and would not affect other cats.

Jonathan added: “Alfie is still waiting to finish his treatment but he will soon be in tip top condition and will be a lovely, friendly cat. He would be happy to be homed with children and loves to be part of the action, so will be a great fun family pet.”

To find out more about adopting Alfie, or any of the other 150 cats currently in the care of Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre, please email the centre at

The National Cat Adoption Centre is situated in Chelwood Gate, on the A275 between Wych Cross and Danehill. For a map and directions to the National Cat Adoption Centre, please visit