Catz knits cats’ mats

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Following a vet student’s placement, St Catharine’s students have been knitting and crocheting mats to help cats and kittens at a rescue centre. 

The creative scheme was inspired by a placement organised as part of these pre-clinical extramural studies. All Veterinary Medicine students are required by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to complete 12 weeks of pre-clinical extramural studies during the vacations. At Cambridge, this time is accumulated in the first three years of undergraduate studies and must be split across different species of animals.

Lois Logan, a third-year Veterinary Medicine student and member of the College’s Yarn Society, spent two weeks over the Christmas vacation at a rehoming centre for stray and unwanted cats and kittens near her home. Yorkshire Cat Rescue is based in Keighley, West Yorkshire and aims to rescue 700–1,000 cats every year.

Lois Logan with woollen cat and yarn
Lois Logan
Cat with woollen mat
A cat (almost) on a mat created by St Catharine's students

Lois said, "My time at the rescue centre was invaluable for picking up all things feline husbandry. Because of the sheer number of animals involved, these establishments are often forced to compromise on opportunities for enrichment in favour of ease of maintaining hygiene. This manifested as plastic housing which the volunteers had already taken to the next level by ingeniously adding snug woollen mats with the cats' comfort (and claws) in mind.

“These placements also instil soft skills ahead of entering a profession as abundant with people as it is with animals! Having built rapport with the team, it was great to have a reason to keep up the correspondence with the staff and volunteers and, thanks to Catz students' support, I was able to drop off a pile of 15 mats on my last visit. It really is fantastic to see our creations comforting the cats when they arrive and being sent with them to their new homes for a sense of continuity.

“I reckon half of the medics and vets at Catz are involved in crafts of some sort, many through the Yarn Society. This is no coincidence as the creative process provides some welcome respite from academic pressures and the Society provides a friendly space to get together.”

Two kittens inspecting a woollen mat
Some creations required close inspection
Two kittens with woollen mat
... but seem to have been welcomed by these kittens

Find out more about studying Veterinary Medicine at St Catharine’s.