Preparing for lock down….
This week’s blog is by Branch Manager, Susie:
This past week or so has been a flurry of activity. When ‘lock down’ was seeming more likely I set about planning. My priority was to ensure we kept operational so we could keep taking in animals rescued by the National RSPCA inspectorate. I had to consider the following:
- Which animals were in foster homes with ‘vulnerable’ adults that needed to come into the centre to safeguard their carers.
- Which animals in the cattery could be relocated to foster homes to make space for new arrivals in the coming weeks.
- What animals needed to be admitted as a matter of urgency.
- How we could access veterinary care for existing and new animals.
- How we could help neighbouring branches who needed to reduce animal numbers in anticipation of reduced staffing.
- How we could honour reservations, perform home visits in this new landscape and place the animals into their forever homes before all rehoming activity was put on hold.
We have a rule at our centre that a cat will never stay more than 8 weeks in a pen, when they reach that time we move them into foster homes so they can live life normally until they are ready for adoption or have found their forever home. To be fair we rarely reach that 8 week mark, but with the period of lock down uncertain I was adamant the first thing we should do was get our cats out.
In the days running up to ‘lock down’ we received emails from people who had been ‘laid off’ or were now working from home, offering to foster cats for the next 3 months. This was just what we needed and thanks to these kind souls we were able to place all but Roz into foster care.
Dear Roz has been in RSPCA care for 3 months already because she has been recovering from a nasty injury. Roz was found stray with her leg trapped in her collar. She was wearing an elasticated collar that overtime had lacerated her armpit. She required weeks of hospitalisation for wound management and we were on the cusp of her being ready for adoption when the lock down came into force. We don’t see many injuries like this anymore as people are more aware of the dangers of buckle and elasticated collars, but low and behold a second cat was found just days before the lock down with the same injury.
Poppy’s story is so intriguing. She was found by a member of the public out looking for their own missing cat. It turns out that 5 year old Poppy was wearing a silver glittery elasticated collar and her leg had got stuck through it and caused a nasty armpit wound. Poppy is microchipped and she is registered to an address in Nottingham and said to be 5 years old. The registered keeper said she had rehomed Poppy 5 years ago. The mystery deepens because she was actually found in Sheffield! She had clearly been homeless for quite some time because her coat was in such poor condition. Poppy is now hospitalised for wound management and we hope to see her soon. Other cats we were able to get into foster care are Miranda, Ripley (the canal rescue cat we featured in last week’s blog), Bernard, Rover, Hob Nob, Charlotte and Missy.
We also responded to requests for help from other centres and have taken in 5 cats on transfer including naughty tortie Lily who is 11 going on 1! She ended up in the care of the RSPCA because her owner went into care. Lily wasn’t coping well with centre life and the confinement of a cattery pen so to make sure she didn’t have to stay confined indefinitely we matched her with a couple who could let her out to play after a settling in period. We have also taken in two pairs of older kittens and found them foster homes where they are keeping adults and children alike entertained!
In addition to the cats previously mentioned we have admitted a further 8 cats this week. Six have come from one home alone, where the owner was unable to cope and no one cat was neutered. We have kittens from 2 litters and 2 adults, one of whom had a fractured jaw repair some weeks ago and was overdue the wire removing by around 6 weeks. They are lovely cats who have all been named after staff’s favourite curries. We have Bhuna, a 3 year old tabby who is mum to 7 week old black kittens Rogan and Josh. Then there is 6 month old tabby, Passanda who is quite shy at the moment, unlike her sister Tarka who is the most loving black cat. Then there is Makhani who will be having the wire removed from her jaw next week. Routine vet treatment has been suspended under guidance from the British Veterinary Association so for the time being we cannot get animals neutered or vaccinated. This is going to have a huge impact on us and veterinary practices that we work with. We aren’t sure how this will unfold in time and I’ve had to stop thinking about it, other than we are likely to experience an unprecedented baby boom!
Amongst the admissions and relocations this week we also had to rise to the challenge of completing animal adoptions whilst maintaining social distance and without entering peoples’ homes. For home visits it wasn’t so bad because we have been conducting ‘Virtual Home Visits’ for further afield adopters for a while now, but it was the actual adoption of the animals that required a bit more creative thinking. In some instances we delivered them to their new owners if their location was close to where we normally travel. In other cases we exchanged at the back door of the centre. We asked all adopters to make payment via bank transfer and we handed over adoption packs with an SAE enclosed to return their signed form – all to reduce contact and time outdoors. Zorro was a garden handover!
I have actually found it really rewarding getting the animals out into their forever homes knowing that they will provide additional comfort, entertainment and distraction at this difficult time. Quite possibly my favourite adoption was Cherry and Dandelion who have gone to live as house rabbits with a family whose 15 year old has created their very own Instagram page. Please follow the page to watch some fantastic binkies. What a way to keep everyone occupied!
But going forward my fear is for the number of young animals we will have growing up in our care. We currently have 12 kittens, 13 baby rabbits and 6 baby guinea pigs. We have no real idea how long lock down will go on for but we are desperately keen to line up homes for kitten siblings Oberon and Ophelia, Puck and Portia. We brought them out of foster care because the whole family had to self isolate for 12 weeks due to pre-existing health conditions. They are looking for homes in pairs (pictured as a pair are Ophelia and Oberon). Once baby animals lose their cuteness appeal it is so much harder to home them. The National RSPCA is looking at ways in which we can resume adoptions whilst meeting government guidelines but we may be a while off yet before having any further guidance. If you are looking to adopt a pair of kittens and live locally then why not drop us an email with information about your family and home to help us get some plans in the pipeline for our fur babies? Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
We have been identified as key workers, as we are providing an essential service. We will keep updating you on all our activities and continue to share on our social media stories from the animals.
Your support is vital to us to ensure we have a future.
Thank you for believing in what we do and being by our side. It is true, together we are stronger. Thank you Manchester and Salford.