Website of the Month 2008

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Worthing Cat Welfare Trust

Winner January 2008

Regular Mews-letter readers will know I'm a sucker for giving a bit of publicity to a cat rescue centre, so when one writes to me asking for a review, and their website is really good, I feel I have no choice but to tell you all about it here.

As you would anticipate, the site deals with topics such as cat adoption, what to do if you lose your cat and how not to lose your cat in the first place, but they've also made sure to make their website fun and entertaining, even for those not in need of their services. There is a great selection of photos and video clips but by far the most entertaining bit for me was the ‘musical cats' page, it really made me laugh out loud.

I'd looked around the rest of the site for as long as I could, but eventually it came down to brass tacks. I tried to resist, I avoided ‘that section' until the last possible moment, but the pictures on the home page were taunting me and eventually my will just wasn't strong enough. If you're a weak willed cat lover, like me, don't look at the ‘cats needing homes' section unless you've really got the room to expand your tribe! No, actually, do, well… don't… er, well do if you must…

All of the cases are heart breaking and all of these poor cats need good homes, and if it weren't for the fact that we're already known as ‘those weird cat people' down our road, I'm sure the population here would have increased by at least 1 or possibly more.

So, if you're near Worthing , or even within a drivable distance, get down to Worthing Cat Welfare Trust and adopt one of these little beauties. If you're not near enough to do that then get your credit card out and send them a contribution – it all helps so send whatever you can! (Donations can be made from the site)

Either way, the site is well worth a visit and I guarantee you wont regret it.

Bengal Cat

Winner February 2008

This month's website of the month is all about one of my favourite breeds of cat, the Bengal . These amazing creatures are pedigrees that are just 4 generations from the Asian Leopard Cat, which is a truly wild cat found throughout Asia .

The surprising thing about Bengals, is that although they have the striking appearance of the Asian Leopard Cat they are actually completely tame, more so than many more common domestic cats. (A friend of mine had a Bengal who loved nothing more than laying on his back in the sunshine and having his belly rubbed!)

But, enough about my fascination with them, on with the site review…

This site is very easy to navigate with all the sections clearly labelled and easily available. The subject matter covers everything you could possibly want to know about Bengals, including a fascinating interview with Jean Mill, one of the pioneers of the breed.

The site also goes into depth about the types of markings found in Bengals and what makes them pedigrees, as well as some of the interesting variations that are not currently considered pedigree but are none the less beautiful and fascinating.

I can't decide on which is my favourite part of the site, but it has to be either the ‘Your Bengal Cats' section or the ‘Letters' section. The ‘Your Bengal Cats' section has pictures and info about some of the visitors' cats including links to their own web sites. The ‘Letters' Section has questions and answers covering all sorts of Bengal and generally cat related topics. The advice is helpful and very well informed and would benefit most cat owners, whether you own a Bengal or not.

Before concluding this review, I'd like to add that whilst Bengals are great cats, if you're considering adopting a cat please consider adopting one from a shelter (as well as a Bengal ?). There are literally thousands of lovely cats in need of good homes at rescue shelters right now, and if you can provide a good home to one you'll not only be getting a great addition to your household but you'll be doing a good deed too.

In summary, Bengal Cat is a great site for anyone interested in cats and is well worth a visit.

The Daily Kitten

Winner April 2008

The Daily Kitten, as the name suggests, posts a new kitten photo every day.

There's not a huge amount to review about this site, it does what it says on the tin, but as soon as I saw it I knew it was a site that should be recommended here in the mews-letter – I mean, who doesn't love kittens? Who wouldn't like to see new kittens every day?

The site is simple and in the form of a blog, with archives of past photos available and certain to keep you stuck on the site for quite a while, I certainly found it difficult to stop looking at the pics and get on with this review.

There's also a lively message board which has some interesting posters starting a good diverse range of threads. Not all of the threads are cat related, although plenty are and they seem like a friendly bunch so it's worth having a look around and joining in with any discussions that interest you.

I really enjoyed spending some time here and will definitely be returning to see some more cute pictures of kittens before the day is through.

Pictures of Cats

Winner May 2008

Like cats? Like Pictures? Like pictures of cats? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you're going to love this month's Website of the Month!!

The vast selection of pictures here, categorised by breed, can't fail to impress. Covering every breed you can think of, plus some you may not even know about, you're sure to find many fascinating pictures that are worthy of more than a second look.

Getting to the lists of breeds through their A-Z navigation, each with an example pic, you can then click ‘find out more' to see more pictures and learn about the breed, including it's history, character and numerous other interesting facts and insights into exactly what to expect from such a cat.

There are also many other pages in this site, dealing with more general cat themed topics, such as health issues, rare breeds and some excellent fan art from the musical ‘Cats'.

The design of the site is also at a very high standard; Simple and easy to navigate, but also classy and very pleasing to the eye. My only criticism of the site, and it's really only aesthetic, is that there are a few pages that are inconsistent with the main design, such as the Warrior Cats and Shop pages.

Possibly these few pages are waiting to be updated from an earlier design, or possibly (in the instance of the shop page) there are technical reasons why things need to be a little different. Whatever the cause, these issues are so minor that it didn't affect my enjoyment of, or the considerable amount of time spent at this site.

Overall this is a top site that is a great addition to the bookmarks and definitely somewhere I'll be visiting again.

The Cat House on the Kings

Winner June 2008

Rescue centres are a heartbreaking reality of animal welfare, and an essential facility in a society that tries to be humane.

Upsetting though it can be to see these poor animals confined whilst they wait for their new family to adopt them, at least a good number of the residents are only temporary. The saddest thing is knowing that many animals will never find a home and they face a future of confinement or euthanasia.

Well let me show you a different kind of cat rescue centre, The Cat House on the Kings - a no-cage, no-kill, lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption centre .

In 1992 Lynea Lattanzio took 15 abandoned kittens into her 5 bedroom house on 6 acres of land, where she lived alone. It sparked an idea and a passion in Lynea, and by the end of the year she had helped 96 cats.

In the subsequent years the idea grew beyond belief, and The Cat House on the Kings now looks after up to 700 cats at a time, and a few dogs too, all of whom are free to roam the 6 acres and live their lives as they see fit. If that sounds a bit far fetched, implausible or unworkable, just watch the video on the ‘Facility' page – I was truly amazed!

The website is very nicely built and pleasing to the eye, whoever designed it certainly has a flair for design. It's easy to use and easy to find what you're looking for, with all the information you could want about the sanctuary, well laid out and grouped together logically.

As you would expect, the website has facilities to donate money or other resources to the cause, as well as information about other things you can do to help, such as volunteering or sponsoring a cat.

The ‘Adopt' page shows pictures and details of just some of the cats up for adoption, so if you live in the area and are looking for a new furry addition to your household, this is the page to visit – although be warned, you may end up with more cats than you intended!!

I can't find any criticism to make of this website, and my favourite bits were the ‘Adopt' page and the previously mentioned video on the ‘Facility' page.

Overall, an excellent site for an excellent group of people doing amazing work!

TheCinnamon Trust

Winner August 2008

It is a well known fact that pets enhance the lives of their human companions significantly and in a multitude of ways. The benefits are even greater for those who are ill, or face other difficulties that may make them housebound or dependant on others.

But what happens when the human in the relationship dies or has to go into hospital, and can no longer look after their beloved animals? This is where The Cinnamon Trust can come to the rescue.

Their website is well made and gives a lot of information about the trust. It's easy on the eye, well written and easy to navigate. There are lots of links to the forms with which you can apply to help in a variety of ways, such as donating money of volunteering your services, and I would encourage you to do so.

My favourite bit of the website is the case studies page. There's some quite sad stories here, but (without wanting to give away the plot) all of them end with an owner freed from the anxiety of wondering what would happen to their pet after they had gone, and an animal that was well cared for.

In summary, I think this site is an excellent advert for an excellent organisation doing immensely valuable work. My full respect goes to all involved.

Crafty Cat


September 2008

This months WSOTM is a complete resource for all things cat.

The four main sections consist of Behaviour, Resources, Fun and Downloads.

Downloads currently only has a couple of wallpapers, which are very nice, but suggests that there is more to come in this section.

The rest of the sections have plenty to get your teeth into, from articles about cats to book reviews to pictures of cats ‘caught red-pawed (my favourite page of this site.)

The design is very nice, with an excellent layout and colour scheme. Although these things are somewhat less important than good content, it does make using the site very easy and viewing it is pleasurable and it really draws you in.

Band of Cats


October 2008

This months WSOTM is actually a blog, and unsurprisingly, it's a blog about cats.

The writers' own cats (Dax, Jade, Jasmine and Spooky) are, of course, the stars of the show, with plenty of pictures and info about them and their activities; but this blog is well above the average with both the quality of the writing and the variety of topics covered too.

One of the things that made this blog the perfect WSOTM for our Halloween Special is the recent posts covering Halloween, my favourite being 105 Amazing Cat Pumpkin Carvings and Art, which has some truly awe inspiring work.

They also have a link to their Flickr photo album, which contains lots of excellent photos of the tribe and makes a fascinating visit in its own right.

Over all, I can't praise this blog enough, definitely one that stands out from the crowd.

The Daily Cat

Winner November 2008

This months WSOTM was almost rejected for several reasons, however on consideration we decided that the good bits are good enough to cancel out the minor reasons for rejecting it.

First the good…

This site is packed with information about cats. Divided into 4 main sections (Whole Health, Nutrition Now, Blissful Cat and Behaviour Basics) the numerous articles range in topic from helping your cat deal with emotional issues to taking great photos and everything else you can think of.

All the articles are well written, interesting and informative, and even cat obsessives like us managed to learn something new.

There is also a daily audio clip giving tips on how to care for your cat and how to give them the best life you can.

My favourite bit was ‘Tail Twisters', a forum-poll-like box out of cat related questions, which I was glued to for quite a while.

Now the not so good

So, you're thinking, this all sounds great, why was it nearly rejected? Well there are a few things that I found a little annoying.

First, the site is entirely from a USA perspective, not that this is altogether bad, but some of the advice is not entirely culturally compatible. For instance, there were numerous instances where it was taken as red that all cats should be indoor only cats. That's a popular view in the USA but it's far less popular here in the UK .

The other thing that I found off-putting is the obvious commercialism of the site. Along the top are links to several entirely unrelated sites, all heavy with advertising, and this site is itself bursting with adverts for Iams. I'm not against commercial websites, we are a commercial company ourselves, but I do try to avoid reviewing such blatantly commercial sites for the WSOTM.

Overall though, the quality of the information wins through and I did enjoy visiting this site a great deal.

Cat Chat

Winner Decemeber 2008

This month's WSOTM quite simply is one of the best cat rescue sites I've seen. I've visited it many times, so I found it difficult to believe we haven't reviewed it before, but looking though our archive it appears to have been missed.

Cat Chat is essentially there to help rehome cats and spread the right philosophies of cat care, but the website offers so much more and is packed full of great content exploring every area of cat care and cat rescue.

The site is nicely designed and easy on the eye, so spending some time here is definitely an enjoyable experience.

Arriving at the home page you immediately have a facility to find cat rescue centres in any area of the UK – I had to try very hard not to spend too much time in this area for fear of increasing the feline population here even further!

They have a great forum with lots of helpful people willing to share their thoughts on any issue posted, plus lots of questions already answered in previous posts, so this is definitely a good place to go with your feline problems.

There isn't room here to cover everything on the site, so I'll end the review by saying that you really should visit this site because you would be hard pushed not to find something interesting and engaging here.

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