Welcome to Chats de Chatillon
Cat Refuge and Sanctuary
Judy and Alan Lewis moved to France from England several years ago. They love animals and have helped out various animal charities over the years, in France and in the UK. However, in 2018 they realised that there was a need to open a new refuge, so that they could help and home more abandoned cats and kittens. After completing intensive training, and meeting all the french regulations, Chats de Chatillon was born.
The cat refuge has kept them extremely busy, especially when they had seven, one day old kittens handed to them in a box. With around-the-clock feeds, and two other incredibly young kittens to care for, it was a hectic but rewarding time. Especially as all the kittens survived and found wonderful homes.
Judy and Alan run the cat refuge together and they are an incredible team. Alan has single-handedly built all the beautiful cabins and isolation units for the cats. And he continues to do all the gardening, maintenance and feeding of their own cats, whilst Judy tends to all the others in their care. It’s a 24/7 job for both of them.
They have done an amazing job building everything from scratch. The wooden cabins are well insulated, and the cats can enjoy the gentle heat from infra-red lamps. They have built in bunk-beds and boxes inside, furnished with thick cushions and warm covers. The cats can access the enclosure at any time via a cat door. The cabins are perfect for keeping the animals warm and dry in the winter, and cool and sheltered from the sun in the summer.
The upper half of the exterior space is curtained so that they can be protected from wind, rain, cold or excessive sun. It is completely surrounded in small-gauge wire mesh. The bottom half of the cabin is covered with thick plastic to allow plenty of vision, light, and protection. There is also a large play area. Wooden runs hug the walls and cross the ceilings, so the cats and kittens can move around freely at different heights. There are also lots of sleep, or rest areas in each of the corners with cosy bedding. And to keep the guests occupied each cabin has its own play tunnel and lots of toys.
It all sounds perfect doesn’t it? But for the animals here, they would love nothing better than having space to run around and play, all their own toys, and lots of love and attention in a wonderful home of their own.
Frightened, neglected, starving and ill – each cat and kitten that arrives at Chats de Chatillon cat refuge has their own sad story. Sometimes they have been abandoned, dumped at the side of the road, kilometres from home, thrown out like trash. When they have spent all their lives as a domestic animal and been fed every day, they struggle to survive in the wild. Some are lucky enough to be found and brought to our refuge. But who knows how many more are lost or attacked and don’t survive?
Similarly, we receive cats that have wonderful, loving owners but they have been admitted to hospital, or taken into a nursing home. As a result, there is no-one at home to take care of their pets. They are lost and confused, and desperately missing their beloved owners. But if we have the space then we will take them in until their owners return home. Otherwise we will try to re-home them.
If only all these beautiful creatures could talk. We would learn to understand their fears, sadness, and pain. At Chats de Chatillon we try to show them that life isn’t always so cruel, and there are kind, loving people out there too.
Cats and kittens we receive at the refuge are often in a dreadful condition. Not only are they covered in ticks and fleas, but they can also be suffering from other ailments and infections that require immediate, veterinary attention. The vets give them a thorough examination and take blood tests. However, if they are diagnosed with contagious conditions, for example conjunctivitis, coryza, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), then they have to be kept isolated. This is in order to stop other animals from becoming infected. Together with the vets, at Chats de Chatillon we make sure all our animals receive the best possible care and medical attention.
Building the trust
At Chats de Chatillon we love, nurse, and nurture every single one of them. The animals in our care receive all the medical attention and love that they need to repair their damaged bodies and minds. Quite often animals that come to us have been ill-treated and abused. Like little Blossom, whose previous owner used to drop her from a 3rd floor balcony. Blossom is now lucky to have been adopted by a wonderful, kind family. Ultimately, for the others in our care, only time and patience will help to rebuild their trust.
Of course we want our cats and kittens go to their new loving families fit and healthy. They are vaccinated, FIV tested, identity-tagged, and sterilised when they are at the right age.
Even though our adopting families are carefully vetted, after a few days we try and arrange to visit the cats and kittens in their new homes. This is so that the new owners have a chance to ask us questions or talk to us about any problems they might be having. And we also get to see our precious babies in their new environments.
At Chats de Chatillon we want to make sure everyone is happy and content. It would break our hearts to find any animal, or owner is not happy. We’re pleased to say that it is very rare that we find that the cats have not settled. So everyone is happy. The cats are getting love and affection from wonderful new owners. And loving owners are getting lots of cuddles from their new babies!
Nothing makes us happier than receiving updates and photos from the proud, new owners. It brings us so much joy and makes everything worthwhile.Judy Lewis, Chats de Chatillon cat refuge
As you can imagine there is a lot of work to do at the refuge every day. After all our feline guests are clean, fed and watered we also like to give them a little cuddle! Obviously, cuddles are not always possible if they have recently been brought in, because they can still be a bit traumatised. In these cases, we will just sit in the cabin and talk quietly to them. Eventually they begin to trust us and come down to check us out. Although this can sometimes be a slow process, as soon as they make that first move we know they are on the road to recovery.
Nevertheless, just because we are busy it doesn’t mean that we don’t like to get the occasional visitor. And we have some regular volunteers who pop by every week, either to help with the daily duties, or simply to sit and play with the cats. For example, one of our ‘angels’ is beautiful and kind Clemence. As soon as she steps out of the car her pretty face lights up. And why not? Because who wouldn’t be happy to have lots of cats and kittens to play with
Come and visit us
Why don’t you come for a visit and see what we do at Chats de Chatillon? We’ll introduce you to some of our lovely boys and girls. And maybe you’ll get to have a cuddle or two with some of the kittens. We will happily answer any questions you have about adopting or fostering and can give you a guided tour. In addition, you will be helping us out. Because your visits can help us understand how some of the new cats react when they meet new people. Or when they hear lots of different noises.
Unfortunately, for health and safety reasons, and for the comfort and well-being of our animals, we cannot accommodate large groups. Also, we have to insist that visits to Chats de Chatillon are by appointment only. Booking an appointment means you have your own personal time-slot. And it also gives us time to complete all our daily tasks.
Please phone or fill in the contact form to get in touch with us at Chats de Chatillon. We are all looking forward to seeing you, especially the kittens. Because they just LOVE to make new friends, play around, and have lots of kitty cuddles.