I could be wrong, but for all the years I’ve done my job I can’t remember a time when we haven’t had animals in our care with long term rehabilitation needs. When we do have such special animals we place them in a foster home so they can live their life as if they are in their forever home. I truly admire the foster carers who commit to these animals, as it really must be heart breaking when the time eventually comes for them to go up for adoption.

Long-stay animals it tends to be cats with skin related issues. We tread a familiar path of treating the symptoms, then working out the cause and then working out how best to manage the problem. It typically takes months, if not up to a year, and just when we think we’ve nailed it, they gone downhill again and you feel like you are starting from scratch (bad pun) again. Currently we have 4 cats with these types of issues and only one now ready to fly the nest.

At the best of times adult black cats are often low on the ‘appealing list’ of animals to adopt, but when we are in the height of kitten season even black kittens can be hard to rehome. So we know that our cat Orla is going to prove challenging to rehome but she is a loving cat with funny quirks that will hopefully endear her to a special adopter. I’d like to share with you Orla’s story because it is a side of our branch’s work that rarely gets featured.

Orla came to us on 16 February 2020 after spending a week on 7 day observations at the RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital. She had been reported as a stray cat with a bald back end and was diagnosed with feline allergic dermatitis (FAD for short). When we were asked to take her we did so knowingly, having ventured down the care route so many times before with cats with similar presentations, but this time it wasn’t the usual dietary or flea allergy causing the skin complaint but we had to start the same journey as always to establish cause, management and how not to manage it! Cue steroid injections, tapering steroid tablet doses, skin flare ups, diet trials, ‘appeasement’ plug-in trials and hair growth, hair loss and hairless times.

After 1 month in our care

Orla is estimated to be around 3 years old. Goodness knows how she ended up homeless, suffering with terribly infected, broken skin and bald. We suspect she was likely abandoned because of her problem rather than it occurring after being made homeless. After 6 months of care we are finally able to release her for adoption. Whilst most her fur has grown back it is quite ‘downy’, and may never fully grow back like regular fur. She has been stable now for 2 months on a daily dose of 5mg prednisolone tablets. The vet feels this is probably the best we will ever get and we have to accept she will need the medication for life. It’s also highly possible she will need steroid injections to support her through the stressful transition from foster to forever home, but we are poised to financially support Orla in her new home until she is settled. The good news is she doesn’t have any special dietary needs and the costs of the prednisolone tablets is pennies, so hopefully someone out there will fall for her.

Looking and feeling so much better!

Orla’s foster carer says:

“We have loved having Orla. She is a sweetheart that wants your attention as much as possible. She is a proper lap cat who will always want to sit with you. Orla runs around at an amazing speed when you first see her in the morning, she gets so excited. More recently she has started to run to the door when we get home, she was definitely pleased that we were all working at home for so long! When Orla has met new people she has been a little cautious but as soon as they sit on the sofa with a blanket she jumps up for a cuddle. She doesn’t bite or scratch at all, nor does she jump up on counters or steal food. When she came to us she had large bald patches, after a long road of figuring out her medication she is making good progress on her fur and looks so much better. She is a lovely girl who will be sincerely missed in our house”

The foster carer says: I’ve attached a funny picture of her for you to see too! She sometimes forgets about her tongue.

Q&A with Orla’s foster mum:

Q. Where does she like to be fussed?

A. She enjoys scratches everywhere! She even lets you touch her tummy. 

Q. In the morning does she run around because she is having a mad half hour or because she is pleased to see you and she wants her breakfast?

A. Definitely that she is pleased to see us and is hungry, she rarely has a big energy moment. 

Yum!

Q. What’s the deal with her warming to people with the blanket on the sofa? Is it because the blanket smells of her or you or just she likes the plush feel?

A. I was more meaning that she will come and sit with anyone, not anything particular about the blanket smelling a certain way. She does like to sleep on a folded-up blanket on the sofa at night though, she likes fleece material blankets in particular and paddy paws them. 

Fav blanket

Q. Does she hang out with you and watch TV?

A. She always sits with us when we are watching tv. She never goes off to sit in a room by herself. She also really likes watching phone and computer screens, she has been watching a lot of Zoom meetings recently, she will do it for hours! 

Q. Does she have a favourite toy?

A. She doesn’t really do anything when we try to use her toys to play with her, but she likes cords and toggles on jackets, she will sit under our coat-rack and bat them. 

Q. What is it about her you will miss? Like her funny tongue? Her affection?

A. Yes, she’s super affectionate and follows you around like a shadow. She forgets about her tongue often! Maybe a couple of times a day. She also likes to sit in sunbeams. 

Tongue out!

If you are interested in adopting Orla please drop an email to Susie at rspcamcr_salford@btconnect.com