Hackney Based Cat Rescue Celebrates National Black Cat Day

Introducing Feline Friends London totally volunteer led organization.

Feline Friends London Founder Barbara Read with her eldest cat Shola, a grand old gal who is thought to be between 22 and 23 years old. Photo by Anne-Marie le Ble.

Friday 27 October is a special day for the type of cats that get looked over most in animal shelters for adoption. From old superstitions to silly ideas based on aesthetics, such as Black cat not being as photogenic as lighter cats, to black cats not blending in with the furniture, rescue centres have heard it all.

Feline Friends London is a Hackney based Cat Rescue, founded by long time Stoke Newington resident Barbara Read. I’d been aware of her a for a while through friends, pet owners I know and rescue grapevine here in Hackney, but it wasn’t until recently I personally experienced her passion for helping pets and their owners. So impressed, I wanted to know more.

Cyril and Bollo

Recently I asked Barbara how she got involved and why.  She told me; “I began by rescuing cats in my local area here in Stoke Newington in Spring 2008. The Mayhew Animal Home in North West London and Cats Protection’s North London Adoption Centre, would help by offering a space to cats I rescued or was asked to re-home, as later did RSPCA Central & North East London branch”.

She continued; “In the summer of 2011, I started to promote responsible pet ownership here in the borough and in 2013 I became Hackney Council’s Cat Protection Officer. I set up Feline Friends in July 2013, with a friend who works at one of the local vets, mainly with the aim of helping unwanted, stray and abandoned cats in Hackney & those who were at risk of unnecessary euthanasia”.

Feline Friends London includes friends of Barbara who have been quietly dedicated to rescue work for many years, mainly in East London, usually spending their own money to ensure cats are neutered, vaccinated and receive veterinary treatment. As well as rescue workers, they have around 50 fosterers, with more applying each week. They now help cats all over London and sometimes beyond. Last December, for instance, they took in an Arabian Mau, BB, from Dubai.


Feline Friends London have a non-euthanasia policy, which means they will care for sick and elderly cats with treatable conditions and will only approve euthanasia if a cat is terminally ill and suffering and there is no possibility to relieve that suffering.

Because it is entirely run by devoted volunteers means they have no overheads or premises costs, means every penny donated goes into providing for the hundreds of cats they rescue, foster and provide veterinary care.  Most of Feline Friends London volunteers are experienced rescue workers, veterinary and other professionals. What binds them together is a devotion to helping cats, born out of a recognition of their vulnerability as the animal who is probably more in need than any other, with an estimated 2 million homeless cats across the UK, half a million of whom are in London.

They also work with the police, social services and the RSPCA inspectors to help cats and have good working relationships with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, where they are one of their Animal Partners, with Wood Green Animal Shelter in Heydon and with the Mayhew Animal Home, who all offer spaces for cats in their rehoming centres.

So concerned were Cats Protection head office of Barbara’s inability to turn away a cat in need, while she was the Co-ordinator at their Central London branch, they decided to close it down due to the amount of money that was being spent on Veterinary needs. Such is her care and devotion.


Let’s celebrate black cats every day and the appreciation of rescue groups and countless volunteers who do so much for the welfare of stray and abandoned animals.  If you would like to know more about adopting a black cat, other cats, donating or volunteering, please visit their web site Feline Friends London  and like their Facebook Page

About Remi

Remi Hackney Hive founder, publisher and contributor. Hackneyite and all round Girl Friday who couldn't wait to leave Hackney and London behind her. After hitching her wagon in California, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana for 18 years, with a brief spell in Mexico, the prodigal daughter returned to London, happy to put an unconventional and risqué past behind her. It sometimes feels like she’s still at war with herself. This often leads her into a whole lot of trouble, although it’s fair to blame it on some of her best qualities: intelligence, original thinking, willingness to take risks, skepticism, rebelliousness, independence, and creativity. But you know what, much of the trouble she gets into is because she can’t help pointing out that the emperor is naked. Remi still lives by her own rules, nobody else’s. She is owned by her two dogs Deffer(a Jack Russell ) Darcy (a Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix now deceased but can’t remove their names) and two Black cats she adopted December 2021, Desmond and Tutu. She is proprietor of London’s finest and long established pet sitting service. The big smoke is home for the moment, but she desperately yearns wide open spaces, where she hopes to call home in the near future.


View all Posts Visit Website

You must be logged in to post a comment Login