Caught up in the day to day activity of working for animals, it’s all too easy to forget that there are many other people who are also rescuing at-risk animals or campaigning for them one way or another or quite simply ‘doing their bit.’ It’s even easier to forget those who preceded us even if we knew or remember them. It’s a cliche but it’s true (as they mostly are): we stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us. Ruth Plant is one such of these people. As is her biographer, Jenny Remfrey, as they’re both ‘pioneers in animal welfare,’ as the book’s subtitle states. I recall meeting Ruth Plant but I don’t remember much. Frankly, she was one of those (cliche warning here) dotty old ladies who loved cats and would do anything for them. Tenacious and innovative, and no doubt difficult, Ruth helped to pioneer trap, neuter and return as an effective policy for feral cats. In Remfrey’s affectionate and brief but authoritative account of Ruth Plant’s life, the focus is more on cats than other aspects of her most likely dotty life. For example, Ruth wrote one book about her ‘forty years communication with a brother in the after life’ and another called ‘Nanny and I.’ Nonetheless, this is a must-read for those who care deeply about cats and want to learn about the history of feral cat management, particularly TNR. There’s a useful timeline and bibliography as well as information most likely unavailable anywhere else about the torturous history of cat advocacy organisations. Don’t ask.

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