We’ve had 19 new admissions this week. There have been so many animals arrive in such a shocking state of neglect that it hasn’t failed to affect us all. We currently have 4 cats hospitalised at the vets, 3 of whom fighting to recover from the neglect they have suffered. Lord Plumbley being one of them. He was found stray in Sheffield with an eye injury and taken to a local vet. He came on transfer to us because nowhere locally could take him. One of his ears was heavily crusted and we suspected it was cancerous. The next day we came in to find it had partially dropped off and was oozing blood. I think we were more distressed than he was but he got taken straight to the vets and was admitted where our hunch was confirmed. He is going to need his ear amputating next week, at the moment the other ear is looking questionable too.
Amongst the 19 arrivals five young lop rabbits came from the one home having been kept in small cages together. When we picked them out of their travel baskets we were shocked to see how filthy, stained and soaked they were. I actually couldn’t understand how such young rabbits could be in such a terrible state. I still can’t comprehend it. We rarely have to bathe rabbits but some are having to have multiple baths to try and improve their coat condition and remove the stench. Thankfully they are doing well in our care and are lovely rabbits. They are now on the correct diet of mainly hay with a small amount of greens!
We admitted rabbit Tina Maria the following day. She was found to have spent at least the last 18 months of her life in a hamster cage, not let out because the owner had got a dog. It’s things like this that leave you speechless. We now have to be careful about building up her exercise, as she will have a weakened skeleton and insufficient strength in her muscles to safely weight bear during play. So load bearing exercise will be out of the question for a while, as we gradually increase the amount of space she is accustomed to.
We also took in:
- One stray rabbit
- Four injured stray cats – from Chester, Sheffield and Stockport (only one has been reclaimed).
- Abandoned mum and kittens, said to have been found in a plastic bag.
- Two cats and a rabbit left to fend for themselves when the owner went to prison. They had been loose for several weeks before they came to our attention. This is a sad and upsetting case that we are intentionally withholding information about for the time being.
One of our four injured stray cats is O’Malley. He was found struggling to walk. He was taken to a vet in the area he was found in and they suspected he had a broken leg. No RSPCA branch in the area he was in could take him in or fund investigations so we were asked to help. He urgently needed an xray so we funded this. It revealed an awful leg fracture. We didn’t want him to come on transfer with a broken leg so we also agreed to fund the surgery to have the leg pinned. Once the operation was underway it became apparent that the fracture had already started to heal and couldn’t be pinned. The poor cat had lived on the streets dragging a broken leg for around two weeks! The vet had no choice but to amputate his leg. Thankfully he recovered well and came on transfer to us the following day. O’Malley is gradually recuperating in a foster home but what an awful ordeal he has had.
On the positive side we have rehomed all the cats in our care that we released for adoption this week as well quite a few rabbits. With the welcome news that adoptions could resume on Monday we were quickly inundated with offers of homes from the local community. The new DEFRA rules for rehoming mean no viewings or collections can be undertaken by potential adopters because they would be a breach of non-essential travel and social distancing guidelines. It does mean that potential adopters are having to take a leap of faith but we have measures in place to support everyone and a back up plan if it doesn’t work out. Our team have always been very good at matching animals to humans! However, we have to deliver all the animals ourselves. This is placing additional pressure on our resources both financially (fuel costs) and staffing.
Despite the extra work for our team it is lovely to see new animals take their first steps into their new homes. Pictured are Lucy the cat in transit to her new home and a ‘welcome home’ sign for Ripley the cat.
I understand why many other rescues are not opening up to rehoming yet because we are all operating on reduced staffing (due to furloughing, managing social distancing on-site and fewer volunteers). Hopefully we can find a way to make the delivery service sustainable alongside the care of the animals. I found about this out this week and hope you can sign the petition:
“60 charity heads have written to the Chancellor asking for furloughed staff members to be able to volunteer for their charity employer. The letter asks that furloughed employees of registered charities should be allowed to volunteer for their organisations providing:
- The work continues to advance the public benefit provided by the organisation
- Individuals receive no additional remuneration or benefit
- The charity can demonstrate it was required to furlough the employee because of financial stress.
There is a petition on the UK Parliament’s petition website.”
This week has proven really tough going and we could do with a calmer one next week, but I won’t hold my breath!
Spotlight on fostering
Jean is a spritely 84 year old lady who has been fostering for our branch for some years. She has been caring for a special called Dutch for some months now. Unfortunately we have had to take him off adoption because he will need his potential forever home to visit him lots so he can get to know them. In these times this is just not possible, so instead Jean shares with us her story:
“When Dutch first came to live with me, in August last year, he was a very gentle, timid cat who needed a lot of attention and love. Much of my day was spent with him on my lap, curled up in the crook of my arm, unable to read, so we listened to a lot of music from the radio – at least I did, Any sudden movement of an arm or hand would have him leap away. I quickly learned to sit very still and ease cramped muscles gently.
Everywhere I went in the flat, Dutch was with me and we conversed all the time. I have always talked to my animals – it used to drive my husband mad – but I have never had a cat who answered me or, if I was speechless for too long, would start meowing while looking up at me, almost demanding an answer.
The only time he would be sure to be quiet was if I was using the PC or eating. Then he would perch on the table and watch every move. He quickly learned he had to sit away from my plate and only once did he try to snatch something from it. The PC is a different matter – he is determined to join in whenever he can. He seldom takes his eye off the cursor and makes periodic attempts to catch it. Moving animals fascinate him and he will also watch them on TV.
Gradually, I was able to distance myself and he would still follow me around but he was less demanding of attention and would lie beside me or behind my head when I was on the couch.
Now, he cuddles up in my lap much less frequently but always wants attention when I pass and is happy with a head rub or a nose bump. He usually still joins me on the bed but for about 3 weeks he slept in his carrying basket by the radiator which up to then had been ignored. I was quite put out!
When out in the grounds he loves climbing up the many trees and bushes especially when it is windy. When he disappears from sight I can usually trace his movement as he will chirrup every now and again until he reappears. Since the warmer weather has come, he is much less athletic and walks round the garden by my side, occasionally disappearing into the undergrowth. Today, for the first time, the patio door has been open practically all day and he has wandered in and out, becoming used to people passing and actually allowing a couple of people to touch him. So far he hasn’t wandered far from the flat and often won’t go out until I have led the way
He has become a real favourite with the residents since the lockdown as they see him up close in the grounds if we are out at the same time. With one exception – our resident Border Terrier who walks at a different time from us, for obvious reasons.