It was 6.50pm on Monday evening when the National RSPCA inspector, who should have finished 2 hours ago, arrived with 44 rabbits in her van. As she opened her van doors and I peered in to look, a touch of hysteria washed over me. In one vari-kennel were around 20 adult female rabbits, in the other kennel around 12 junior rabbits then in various boxes and carriers there were more baby rabbits and nursing does. I was immediately confronted with the near impossible task of trying to match 20+ babies to their mums.

Earlier that day the inspector had attended a job where a lot of rabbits were reported to be living free range in a property in poor conditions. When she arrived what actually greeted her were 50 plus rabbits living in 5″ deep in faeces in someone’s actual home. The situation was so dire that there was no choice but to remove all the rabbits in one go. I had received a call earlier in the day asking if we could help with 25. The inspector had managed to find space for 10 already but was finding it hard trying to source any other immediate spaces so I said to bring them all to the centre and I would assess them all. It was mine and another member of staff’s day off but we went straight down to set up housing for everyone with the help of our amazing volunteer Sharon.

I wasn’t really prepared for the enormity of the job when the van load arrived. I always know what to do in situations like this, having sadly experienced them several times before, but being faced with the job of trying to pair the babies with mum’s was truly overwhelming. Every single doe was lactating, either because they were about to give birth or had done so recently. We had 3 litters of newborn kittens and even more litters that were around 2 to 3 weeks old – all too young to be without their mum. It felt like I had the fate of their survival in my hands and it was an awful responsibility. It may sound ridiculous but I found it harrowing.

I wasn’t really prepared for the enormity of the job when the van load arrived. I always know what to do in situations like this, having sadly experienced them several times before, but being faced with the job of trying to pair the babies with mum’s was truly overwhelming. Every single doe was lactating, either because they were about to give birth or had done so recently. We had 3 litters of newborn kittens and even more litters that were around 2 to 3 weeks old – all too young to be without their mum. It felt like I had the fate of their survival in my hands and it was an awful responsibility. It may sound ridiculous but I found it harrowing.

We admitted as many as we could physically fit in the centre and be certain we could meet everyone’s needs. It just left the inspector with 8 adult rabbits to find space for and they stayed at the RSPCA vets overnight. I left at 8.30pm to take 13 to foster care and got up early the next day to see who had survived.  I didn’t want the staff to be the first to greet a potentially sad scene but I was relieved to see everyone doing well except a litter of 4 newborns that I had been least confident about the night before. It was my day off but I went back in the evening to find out if they were still with us and they were thriving! The next day they continued to do well so we all started celebrating our success, but it was short lived and from Wednesday to Friday we lost the litter of 4 and 2 others in foster care around two to three weeks old. It was tough, so tough.

Some of our baby bunnies from a large rescue

More sadness arrived on Thursday when a stray adolescent cat was found by a member of the public in distress, trying to give birth. The officer came to her rescue and took her straight to the National RSPCA vets where they performed an emergency c-section. Three kittens had sadly passed away but the vet nurse managed to revive two. The next day Jada was transferred into foster care with our staff member Michelle, but overnight only one kitten had survived. Within a few hours the remaining kitten also died. Jada was just so traumatised by her ordeal, being only a kitten herself, that she clearly didn’t know how to be a mum. Michelle reported that this kitten was the 5th deceased newborn this week she had had the distressing job of attending to; tough by anyone’s standards.

Jada

More sadness arrived on Thursday when a stray adolescent cat was found by a member of the public in distress, trying to give birth. The officer came to her rescue and took her straight to the RSPCA vets where they performed an emergency c-section. Three kittens had sadly passed away but the vet nurse managed to revive two. The next day Jada was transferred into foster care with our staff member Michelle, but overnight only one kitten had survived. Within a few hours the remaining kitten also died. Jada was just so traumatised by her ordeal, being only a kitten herself, that she clearly didn’t know how to be a mum. Michelle reported that this kitten was the 5th deceased newborn this week she had had the distressing job of attending to; tough by anyone’s standards. Jada is the second cat in the last month to come to us giving birth in the streets. Neutering is so important and there are various cheap neutering schemes via the RSPCA and Cats Protection, if you need neutering advice for your cat get in touch! rspcamcr_salford@btconnect.com N.B Routine vet treatments are currently suspended due to COVID-19 so please keep unneutered cats indoors until they can be neutered.

In total this week 34 rabbits and 5 cats have been admitted. It’s tiring just thinking about those numbers. We currently have over 120 animals in our care and it is soon to rise as our pregnant ‘stray’ guinea pig Gwen is fit to burst! We can’t believe she hasn’t had her babies yet, but it has to be any time soon judging by the size of her.

Gwen, ready to pop!

To end the week we received a very smelly new arrival. An entire male tom cat that smells so badly we’ve had to put him in the cat isolation unit so he doesn’t upset the rest of the animals in the centre! I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him yet but I suspect the smell will be the first thing that greets me on Monday morning!

The week ahead not only brings me the joy of stinky tom cats but we are eagerly awaiting a response from a specialist in orthopaedics. You may remember our grubby tom cat Malachi from a previous blog.

Malachi

Well we discovered he has spinal discomfort and so was placed on anti-inflammatories to see if that helped at all. Sadly they did not and his behaviour really began to deteriorate and he started lashing out at random (and filling the accident book!). He had xrays taken this week and they were a revelation and nothing short of shocking.

Malachi’s x-ray

He has a really badly fractured leg that healed ‘wrongly’ a long time ago and on the opposite side is evidence of similar trauma and healing on his pelvis. Presumably both were received from a road accident, but being stray he was left to drag himself around in terrible pain for months on end.  This poor cat has gone through incomprehensible pain yet he still wants a lap to sit on and a fuss. Whether we can help him live a pain-free life is to be determined by the specialist. Amputating the leg may not be an option if his opposing hip is also causing him pain and is not strong enough to bear the additional weight. What a predicament to be in. His future is completely out of our hands and all we can do is wait. Malachi is now on oral pain relief to help ease his discomfort but his mobility is deteriorating. Be rest assured though, that if we can help him, we will.

If you would like to donate to Malachi’s care you can online via this link!