Blog by Susie Hughes, our charity manager:

We have been all about the cats this week, which makes a change because it tends to be the lagomorphs (aka bunnies) that rule at the centre! With 5 new cat admissions, each with their own heart breaking story, they represent the diversity of how the RSPCA (both National and individual branches like us) helps animals and people in need.

First to come in was Astor he was found stray and in quite a dishevelled state. He had followed a member of the public home quite a long way and wasn’t for leaving them. Upon admission we found his ear tip amputated, typically this is done to feral cats that are ‘trapped, neutered & released’ by a charity but he is far from feral. We had him checked over at the vets and he turns out to be FIV positive so we are really pleased he is with us so we can take good care of him, prevent any other community cats becoming infected and find him a forever home as a house cat.

A little unsure on arrival but settling in well now!

Leon has already taken up pride of place in my heart. On Sunday 5th April a call was made to the National RSPCA helpline by his owner. He said he was on a flight out of the country at 3pm to escape the virus and had left his two cats for an inspector to collect! Accompanying the cats were extensive travel documents that showed they had originally come over with the owners from Canada, but here they were, finding themselves abandoned. The other cat was found to have a heart condition and is being monitored at the vets still, whereas Leon was found to be FIV positive. His paperwork revealed him to be around 10/11 years old so further tests were done to establish his overall health. They all proved he had a clean bill of health and so he was released into our care. Within a couple of hours it became clear that Leon needed to be in a foster home, he was really quite distressed in the cattery so we relocated him the same day and we are so pleased we did. Within hours he had his paws under the table and was happily napping. His foster mum says: “He is an angel and happy to be loved. He’s decided his favourite place to nap is on my lap!”

Leon

Sky arrived on Tuesday. The whereabouts of her owner unknown; all that neighbours could tell the inspector was that they were disabled and hadn’t been seen for a while. Sky was trapped inside the property but as a joiner was there changing the locks the inspector managed to avoid having to call out police to gain access. Sky came trotting up to the open front door which enabled the inspector to scoop her up and place her in a basket. Sky came straight to us at the centre and was so pleased to be around people once more. She’s clearly been well loved and cared for so it makes us anxious about what has happened to her owner. Sky loves a lap to sit on and has been loving all the attention; she really is adorable.

Sky: another example of the National RSPCA inspectors work, now in our care

Sweetpea arrived on Thursday. She went through the horrible ordeal of a still-birth as a stray cat. On Tuesday 7th April she was found with a kitten hanging out of her rear end that turned out to have died. An inspector rushed to get her and had her examined at the RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital in Salford (which isn’t us as many people think but a separate facility run by the National Society). It was found she had more kittens inside and she needed an emergency cesarean. Sadly the other kittens had died too. Sweetpea spent two nights at the animal hospital before coming into our care. According to locals her owners abandoned her a while ago. Sweetpea immediately took up residence on a volunteer’s lap and is such a loving and happy cat. Neutering could have stopped so much suffering, yet again.

With the arrival of Magdalena on Friday ‘Cat Lap Club’ was born! With 4 cats in one week admitted all up for lap cuddles volunteer Lisa marked the occasion with declaring Lap Club officially open! Magdalena was taken in as a pregnant stray by a member of the public, she gave birth and raised her kittens in the home only to come into season again. The local toms were prowling around and spraying at the door and Magdalena kept escaping. With all routine vet treatments suspended the carers couldn’t get her neutered and couldn’t cope, so they asked us for help. We are all braced for a kitten explosion like no other, as a result of vet practices only able to help the public with emergency vet treatment. I just hope Magdalena doesn’t have to go through motherhood again.

I am pleased to report that we have a total of 12 forever homes lined up for some of our animals but we still really need to get homes sorted for kittens Ophelia & Oberon and Bowie & Ziggy  as well as the bouncing baby bunnies we have in our care. We also have some gorgeous adult cats and rabbits now ready for adoption and we will share them on social media this coming week.

My intention for this week’s blog was to dedicate it to our amazing foster carers, but with so many having such fantastic stories to tell I wanted to do justice to them all. So each week I will highlight the contribution of two of our fantastic volunteers so we can put a spotlight on their individual kindness and commit to our very special animals.

Firstly, Martin tells us about their experience of fostering and their current resident Lottie. She has a rare condition called hyperesthesia which is proving difficult to address.

“My girlfriend Rachel and I have been fostering for the RSPCA Manchester and Salford branch for nearly 6 years now. We started not long after moving into our first house together. We wanted a pet but couldn’t really afford to keep one. Rachel had the idea of contacting the RSPCA to see if we could foster instead, we were then visited by one of the team for a chat, we got approved and that was that. We’ve loved every minute of it.

We started fostering as a way to help both ourselves and a brilliant charity, we would get the chance to have cats staying with us, that we wanted but couldn’t afford to keep ourselves, and the RSPCA would get some support in it’s endless mission to assist animals in need. Since we’ve started we have had, at least, 39 cats and kittens stay with us, some for only a week, and some for several months. It is a pleasure to have them here for any length of time and we’d be lying if we said it doesn’t hurt to see them go, but we always feel comfort in the knowledge they are going to a good home.  We keep fostering because we love doing it, and the team at RSPCA Manchester and Salford are a brilliant support to us. They keep us supplied with food, litter and medicine for our foster cats, and deal with vet visits as we have no car ourselves. They make it very easy for us to do our job, which is to give these cats a roof over their head and let them experience some human interaction.

We are currently fostering little Lottie, she came to us in October 2019 after having kittens, but she was only a young cat herself and was not dealing well with separation. She had developed a bad habit of over-grooming and so we have been trying to help her with that, with distracting toys to take her attention away from the grooming and with medication for any pain she might have that could be causing her to do it. Happily, we’ve seen Lottie come on in leaps and bounds since she first arrived. Her fur has grown back and she is a confident, affectionate cat, who loves to be around people and is straight over for a fuss when she sees us. We love having her with us anyway but, especially during this strange and uncertain time, having her to focus on and look after has provided us with real comfort.  

During the lock-down fostering has been a real life-saver. Rachel has been stuck at home since January anyway following an emergency appendectomy and a lengthy recovery period, and having a foster cat around the house to keep her company whilst I was at work was really good for her morale and her mental health. Then, as the pandemic appeared and then escalated, and the new restrictions were brought in regarding travel, I found myself working at home for the first time, and I then also got to experience the true benefits of sharing your home with a foster animal, and especially being around during the day. It is an instant stress reliever when Lottie jumps up onto me for a cuddle or a head scratch, and she seems to know exactly when it’s needed too. I’d say fostering a cat during this time has really helped us a lot, keeping us sane, taking focus off the stress and worries of the locked-down world, and drawing attention instead to the little furball visitor in our home.

The Richardson family are currently fostering 9 of our animals: 4 rabbits, 4 guinea pigs and a hamster! Courtney tells us all about their experience:

“We have been fostering for nearly 3 years and volunteering at the centre since it opened in July last year. Our journey into fostering began with us seeing a post on Facebook looking for foster carers. The first animals we fostered were 4 male mice, we instantly fell in love with them and haven’t looked back since. On Saturday we took in foster animals number 51 and 52!

We love having animals, but we would never be able to afford to have so many. Fostering allows us to care for a variety of small animals and gain knowledge on how to look after them. Fosters also provide us with company and their personalities keep us entertained. Since fostering we have now discovered our love for mice.

We enjoy caring for the animals, giving them extra attention and getting to see them become more confident in our care. It’s amazing watching an animal that was previously scared or unsure of humans now run up to us for a head scratch or sit on your lap.

It can be hard sometimes when fosters go off to new homes as we can get so attached to them, especially if they have been with us since they were a baby or a long time. But on the bright side, they are going off to a new home and there’s a space for another rescue to be fostered and get the love, care and attention they deserve. It’s great seeing updates of previous fosters as it’s good to see them finally have a forever home of their own and because of this, we will never stop fostering animals.

At times you do get so attached that you end up foster-failing (adopting ourselves), and this has happened to us a few times now, but we always have plenty of space for other fosters.

Not all fosters that arrive are in good health, it can be sad to see them suffer and some may even have to be put to sleep. Though this is sad it’s good to know that they have had the best weeks or even months with us getting lots of attention, treats and toys.

During the lockdown we have continued to foster, even opening our doors to as many as we can fit in. The animals have provided comfort and distraction during the last few weeks. We keep fostering because these animals need to have somewhere safe to live and need so much love and attention.”

Houdini was caught by a cat at around 3 weeks old and was terrified for weeks and didn’t come out when people were about. To make sure Houdini was well and active the Richardson’s set up a night cam

After a couple of weeks he began to find his confidence and had a play in the living room!


We hope you enjoyed this week’s blog! Remember you can help us in the following ways:

  • If you are interested in adopting any of the animals in today’s blog register your interest by emailing us rspcamcr_salford@btconnect.com
  • We are currently in need of donations of wet kitten and adult cat food (either Whiskas or Felix). You can make a donation via our Amazon wishlist!
  • If you shop on Amazon you can help us for FREE. Just log in to ‘Amazon Smile’ rather than the normal Amazon page and select us as your charity of choice. Search ‘The Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals Manchester and Salford Branch’. Phew! We get a % of every one of your purchases.
  • If you would like to make a cash donation to us we would appreciate every penny! At the moment all our charity shops are closed and as they provide most of our income generation we are truly struggling. Make an online donation via JustGiving here!

A huge thank you to everyone that has donation food, toys, newspapers – whatever we have requested! It really does mean so much to us. We’ve also received £450 in online donations which will go straight to helping us continue to take in animals rescued from the National RSPCA inspectors.