Ann Knowles is the owner and driving force behind Katz Castle. Ann has dedicated her life to providing shelter and comfort to the thousands of animals (not just cats) that have passed through the gates of Katz Castle over the last 40 or so years. Here she explains how it all began:
"Well I suppose it all began right back at the end of the war when it was decided to take part in the reconstruction of bombed institutions and the demolishing of dangerous buildings. Soon, this work showed an amazing population of cats that lived in the various holes and corners.
At that point in time the founders of Katz Castle were determined to do their little bit to improve the very sad environment these cats now found themselves in.
It was a frustrating and a sad job that seemed to have no end, the more help that was given to these cats, the more seemed to appear from the tangled remains of the buildings, and when the daily food parcels arrived at the various points of contact more and more hungry souls appeared, some with their kittens and many “Ferals” glaring from the rear and all trying to get to the bowls.
Some years were to go by before any real progress was made with the actual relief of their suffering, this was achieved by the purchase of land in Cobham and this became the “KATZ CASTLE” that has since helped so many thousands of cats.
With the business of reclaiming gardens etc in London and the East End it was now possible for our “cat loving” garden teams to establish regular contact with various groups of cats, and even to bring desperately ill ones back to Katz Castle where in many cases they recovered and lived on to tell another tale. Hospital authorities in those days, I am sorry to say were all “anti cat” and the staff were severely lectured if they gave help, shelter or food to the distressed and starving animals, they were even threatened with dismissal. We as contractors were able to overcome this problem to some degree by our own “Sneaky” methods.
Soon we at Katz Castle were finding ourselves swamped with desperate “cat situations” and all our spare time was spent constructing temporary homes for them with Tea Boxes and rolls of wire.
It was about 1968 and we put out an urgent call for funds. To our delight the donations came flowing in and enabled us to build really nice units including “Hospital Bed” units for the sick and dying.
A visitor to Katz Castle now would find a well run shelter for quite a large number of cats (and kittens) and what is more the units are situated in five acres of beautifully laid out Victorian Gardens (not that the cats care as long as the earth is tilled over regularly!). Actually quite a lot of the gardening is tended to by about 50 Feral and elderly cats who produce amongst other things fine organic vegetables for the family. These cats being either to old or untrainable are allowed to spend the rest of their lives in comfort.
Many cats are now forwarded on to us, or seek our help through Charities and Public Authorities, which we believe could not manage without our help.
Finally we wish our five acres were 50 acres and that we were in a position to do lots more for these beautiful and loving companions to the human race."