Blog post by our Charity Manager, Susie:

There is nothing I like more than something yucky. Worms are right up there, although I enjoy a good abscess even more! On Wednesday I was working from home, trying to concentrate on a grant application, when I got a call from the centre to tell me one of the cats had the worst case of worms the staff had ever seen. I was gutted I hadn’t been there to see it, even more so that they hadn’t taken any pictures of it for me(!). Later that day more worms appeared, this time from a Peaches and her 4 kittens. They had started worming treatment the day before and they had all started to come out, so I doubly missed out. Bad day to choose to work from home!

The previous day had been eventful too. Staff on the early shift came into a poop horror scene. Pomona the cat had arrived the day before with her 4 kittens. They had been abandoned on a doorstep and mum was skinny and dirty. Just picking her up to weigh her she ‘leaked’ (all down a member of staff). We started her on treatment immediately but from the scene in her cattery pen the following morning meant we had to make the decision to separate her from her kittens so we could ‘save’ them all. Pomona got admitted to the vets and the kittens went into foster care for hand-rearing.

Pomona’s faecal incontinence is not an uncommon presentation in the animals we get in. If a cat goes to the loo outside how would an owner ever know if there was a problem? Sadly, the situation is usually more typical that the cat hasn’t been regularly fed cat food, maybe scraps instead and rarely, if ever given worming treatment. Pomona is hospitalised at the vets so they can do all they can to get her stable but it can sometimes take weeks, if not months, to be their bowel habits right.

Pomona’s kittens were transferred into foster care straight away where they had to be bathed and taught how to feed from a bottle. They are in the safest hands possible with our most experienced foster carer (30 years+). The first 24 hours were a bit of battle to get them transitioned on to a bottle but now it seems to be plain sailing, as you can see from the pictures!

Monday was one ‘those’ days. I was driving along to deliver bunnies to their forever home when I got a call from a National RSPCA inspector to see if we could admit two rabbits that had been abandoned in a wood. I casually enquired about their location and ETA at the centre and it transpired the job was in the same postcode as I was heading to. A kindly member of the public had rallied her neighbours to help catch the two rabbits and had placed them in her summer house. The bunnies proved to be impossible for one person to catch so I went along to help. They were very scared and feisty, so I was only too pleased to put my bunny wrangling skills to good use. I got quite a shock when I caught them both. One was heavily matted and the other disgustingly soiled.

A terrible state – bunny abandoned

The person who sheltered them for us explained that they had watched a father and son pull up and abandon them. They challenged the people and were told to ‘go away’ [I paraphrase]. En route back to the centre I called head with our mission in hand and when I got back we spent a long while cleaning each bunny up. They were so frightened that we put them in an isolated room for peace and quiet. We have CCTV cameras in every room in the centre so it meant we could watch them on a monitor in the office. All week they have rarely been seen during the day. They must be so scared and it makes you wonder what kind of life they must have had to be like this. But it’s ok, we’ve had bunnies like this before, and we have all the time in the world to let them settle.

Removed from one of the abandoned rabbits

This week I feel more than ever we have been struggling with the lock down. With 107 animals in our care, and over half of them being new, getting them ‘processed’ (neutered, vaccinated, microchipped etc) is proving difficult due to staff shortages both at our end and at the vets. It is a balancing act trying to figure out who/what to prioritise. However, I do remind myself how lucky we are to have had any veterinary support at all, as so many rescues around the country haven’t had access to veterinary help for weeks. It just frustrates me because we have so many animals that could be in forever homes if they were rehoming-ready.

Although the week has felt a bit like wading through treacle there have been some cracking highlights in the form of recovering animals, adopted animals and community support. I like nothing more than having office cuddles with cats whilst we turn around a pen. It is always one in, one out with the animals and usually within an hour or two of them leaving, such is the demand for space. So I often get to have cuddles with new arrivals whilst someone deep cleans a pen. This week I got help doing emails from Bingo. He was found stray with some sores on his face. He is only young and was still entire (not neutered) and most likely wandered off looking for a lady cat to mate with (as is typical at this time of year) and got himself lost and injured. He has ear mites too, so it’s difficult to tell if they are the cause of the sores or if he has been in some kind of ‘scrape’. I also had the pleasure of Lilith’s company. One of our staff has been itching to call a cat Lilith so she had her way this week! I absolutely adore Lilith; she is so sweet and sociable, but what I love more than anything are the catfish style white whiskers coming from her chin! (And yes, we clean the office between cats too!)

Other highlights for me have been seeing images of cats in foster care enjoy life to the full, like Leon, Halle and O’Malley – who featured in a previous blog after having dragged a broken leg around for two weeks.

I have also really appreciated seeing the videos and photos from adopters with their new furry companions. Sharing life on lock down with a companion animal is so much better! Look at Grace living her best life! after being left on a park bench. She is a much pampered house rabbit now and her new mum is besotted by her:

“She is absolutely adorable and she’s so happy all the time! She comes up and licks me all day and she binkies even when she’s in her pen! This is her and her cuddly toy elephant. She licks him a lot too and the other day she dragged it into another room with her. She’s perfect! Thank you so much for everything!!!”

Grace and elephant

Much to my delight I got to watch our bunny girls Frangipane and Amaretto playing in their new home inside a beautiful walled garden. What I loved even more was their new names: Fishy Legs and Flossy. The girls are family pets and were named by the young children and I think they are superb names!

Exploring their new kingdom!

This week Magdalena, Lily, Lucy, Sweetpea and Tilly were all given permanent homes by the families who opened their doors and hearts to them on a foster-for-adoption basis. This is the stuff of magic for me! People have so generously trusted us with suggestions of who might be a good fit, or have seen a soul in need of a home but are not allowed to meet them (DEFRA rules) but have taken us on our word. We don’t do it in all cases but sometimes there have been good reasons to do so like cats being shy.

Lucy lounging!

In Magdalena’s case the family were keen to adopt a cat but one of their children had asthma. Usually we encourage several visits to the centre to spend time with the cats to see if a reaction occurs, but in lockdown this hasn’t been possible. Because they were so local we tried something else instead. We dropped off a furred blanket from a cat who I thought would be perfect for the family. Thankfully no reaction occurred so a week later we delivered Magdalena to them. It was always going to be a gamble but they fell for her very quickly and she settled straight away, took over the house and was clearly there to stay. On one of my routine calls to see how things were going I was asked why I had chosen her for them. It was a simple answer, “You needed a family friendly cat and she gives hugs, what more could you ask for!” After just two weeks Maddie, as she is now known, has made herself very much a central part of family life, just how it should be!

Undoubtedly though, the cherry on top of the cake this week was our Virtual Pub Quiz. It was a combined effort of three of us, who used our various skills and creativity to produce a quiz quite like no other. It was the first time we had ever done anything like this and was a combination of lo and hi tech melting into one, but whilst it may have been a bit Blue Peter at times it just added to the comedy value. In total over 40 teams took part and nearly £800 was raised with gift aid. It was so much fun that we are now working on a bingo night! Thank you to everyone who made it such a memorable night and helped raise so much money, but most of all thank you to my partners in crime, the brilliant staff members: Gilly and Michelle. It would not have been the same without them and the little help from a certain young lady called Claudia.

Claudia and our ‘bar’