Thursday, 30 July 2015

Behind the Scenes Series: Randall the cat


Our charity prides itself on keeping our supporters up to date with all the latest goings on at the branch. Whether it be via Facebook, Twitter or our website we like to keep you in the loop about the realities of the cases we deal with on a daily basis. At any one time we can have roughly 70 animals in our care (and for a charity with no animal centre that's quite a lot of furry ones!). 

Many of our animals come to us with short term injuries/conditions that heal quickly, some just need routine care (neutering, fleaing, worming, microchipping etc) and therefore we can get them ready and up for adoption as soon as possible. 

Sadly, in the last few months we've been experiencing a large amount of animals that need long term rehabilitation and care before they can be put up for adoption. This may be due to illness, injury or behavioural issues.


Therefore, we've decided to start a series of blog posts called 'Behind the Scenes' so that our supporters can read about the animals that you may not hear about via our normal social media channels (we mainly promote animals ready for adoption here). These are the animals that need long term rehabilitation by our staff and wonderful volunteers.

This week we have the story of Randall......
 
Randall when he first came into our care - 8th April 2015
Randall is a very special lad who has been in our care since 8th April 2015 due to an on-going struggle to cure a very persistent eye ulcer. Sadly we believe he caused the ulcer himself by scratching his eyes after an allergic reaction to something in the home…exactly what he’s allergic to is our next battle!
Randall came into our care due to his owner having her benefits reduced; she could no longer afford to feed him so he was collected along with two other cats. He spent a month in our cattery and he was the perfect guest, always eager for fusses, confident and friendly, and apart from a week with a snotty nose from a mild case of cat flu that was doing the rounds he was a happy and healthy boy.
The problems started when Randall was adopted in May. After just a week in the home he started constantly itching his eyes causing his face to go bald. Soon after his new owners took him to the vets who found an ulcer on his right eye, believing this to be the cause of his itching he was given antibiotic cream and a cone to wear but sadly it didn’t help. As Randall continued to get worse (and the other cat in the home hadn’t taken to him) so it was decided he’d come back into our care where we could try and find out what was causing the problem.
Randall after this eye operation

Since then Randall has been in two different foster homes and has won over everyone who cares for him; he is such a cheeky character it’s impossible not to love him. He has to have his cone on 24/7 in order to stop him scratching but thankfully he has become quite accustomed to it. He has, however, worked out how to scratch himself using the corners of furniture so we have to keep a close eye on him! After seven vet trips, eight weeks of two different eye creams twice a day and an operation to debride the edges of the ulcer, it is finally almost gone and we are ready to start the next stage of his treatment, which is likely to be a course of steroids to help settle the skin irritation. This next stage could be a lengthy process but hopefully will make him more comfortable in the long run and eventually be able to place him back up for adoption.
Randall's eye starting to finally heal - 26th July
Most recent picture of Randall, minus cone!




Throughout all of this Randall has been amazing, even now he will still come to you when called for his eye drops even though he hates it, he doesn’t hold grudges! There is no doubt that Randall will make the best companion ever once he is ready for adoption but with his vet bills currently just passing the £500 mark everyone has their fingers crossed that we are now on the road to recovery! 
Helping animals like Randall is expensive and as a charity we rely entirely on public donations to continue our work.
There are many ways you can help our animals!
1. Make a donation or set up a regular Direct Debit - any amount would make a huge difference to our animals lives.You can TEXT MCRS01 £1/2/3/4/5 or £10 to 70070
2. Fundraise for us! We always have an event or two planned... For example, in September we have an abseil down the Trafford Centre and in October our 'Big Walkies' sponsored dog walk. Why not get involved and raise money for our animals at the same time?!
3. Donate your unwanted clothing, jewellery or bric to our charity shops! Our charity shops are located in Chorlton, Didsbury and the Northern Quarter, city centre and help to fund our work. We can turn your donations into funds to care for our animals. We are also always on the look out for volunteers to help in our shops so if you are interested just get in touch!
4.  Adopt one of our amazing animals! We always have many cats, rabbits and guinea pigs for adoption. If you are looking for a new best friend look no further!
5. Foster a feline! At the moment we are in need of more foster carers for cats, kittens and nursing queens. If you live in the South Manchester or Salford area and think you could help please contact us on 0161 882 0680 option 4.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

On the Look Out

We’ve all seen the shocking images of long-haired animals RSPCA inspectors have rescued in appalling conditions, so badly matted that you can’t even discern their breed. 

NB this is not a picture of Teddy. We cannot show you his pictures for legal reasons.
Well Teddy is a ten year old Lhasa Apso who was taken from his owners after he too was left to deteriorate into an upsetting state of neglect. Teddy was so terribly matted that he couldn’t even see out, he struggled to walk and he was a pitiful, confused old man. Over the years I’ve seen some sights and inevitably become better equipped to cope with the sadness of our work, but I’m not ashamed to admit that Teddy made me cry. I wanted to do all I could to give him a chance but we could not keep him in a kennel. He whined like an injured seal pup and could barely walk. It was heart breaking to see the state he was in and euthanasia really did seem like the kindest option.

But I was thrown a lifeline by two wonderful people who offered to foster him, even though they knew he may not have a future. Below they chart their journey with Teddy. His foster parents are testament to what amazing kindness there is in this world. It is no doubt thanks to their love that I can share this blog today.

“On arrival Teddy was a very weak and vulnerable old guy. He had very little sight and seemed to have no hearing at all and was very weak on his hind quarters. He would pace around for hours bumping into things crying and howling in quite a haunting and upsetting tone. Until he was confined to one room this would not stop and he wouldn't settle. He didn't eat very much at all for the first three or four days and seemed to dislike his face touching the side of his food bowl, so we had to scatter food on the floor initially. We would try to console him but sat quite rigid at an arm’s length distance away from us. When taking him outside into the garden we firstly carried him, then showed him around the garden on a lead, as he would fall over every stone, step, bush, anything. He would walk into everything, getting quite frustrated and upset with himself. 


After approximately five days he started to eat more and used his food bowl. He stopped crying and pacing, so started to spend more time with us around the whole of the downstairs of our house. We stopped carrying him to the garden and just lead him through the house by his leash. Letting him off leash once in the garden, where he still bumped into various things but would toilet as soon as he felt the grass under his feet. We noticed him hearing one of our dogs barking, although she is very loud! We also noticed he could make out maybe the outline of our legs and would follow us but still bumped into flat surfaces, i.e.: walls , garage doors so he constantly needed a chaperone.

We were astounded to keep finding Teddy curled up in the washing basket. How managed to know what it was and get in and out was baffling.

Approximately ten days after arriving at our home there was remarkable improvement in Teddy. He now responded to his name, knew his way around the house, both gardens, front and back: not bumping into anything at all. He knows exactly where every obstacle is now and even goes and cries at either the front or back door to go out to the toilet.
 
Making friends with one of the residents (another ex-RSPCA rescue)
Teddy now also begs for his food – that’s 5pm on the dot by the way! He lifts his head when you call his name and races you to the front door when visitors ring the bell and even barks at a knock on the door.

Teddy loves his tummy being tickled and likes you to grab his whiskers so he can play bite you. He loves you to tap his bum and does a little skip then looks back at you to do it again. He even jumps on the sofa now and will sit there all night with you having his belly tickled. All in all he's enjoying life: his eye sight seems to have improved, is hearing is better and he is so much stronger on his back legs now and you can't stop him jumping on the sofa. We have found him to be a very pleasant old fella who loves to spend time with us, especially in the afternoons after his morning nap and will make a wonderful companion for someone at home during the day.”


After veterinary investigations to ascertain a full picture of Teddy’s health we are delighted to announce that he is able to be rehomed. Teddy has a condition called ‘dry eye’ and will require ‘viscose tears’ eye drops putting in his eyes at least 4 to 6 times a day. The eye drops only cost £3 a bottle. Teddy was born with poorly formed hips and as such he now has ‘severe arthritis’ but has learnt to cope with his impairment. He will benefit from anti-inflammatory drugs, which any prospective adopter must be able to pay for. Otherwise, Teddy is in remarkable condition with blood tests revealing his in good health; he just has the odd old dog lumps, but nothing sinister.
 
Teddy with his foster mum's dog Brigitte.
Teddy will need an owner who can afford his medication, is at home most of the day and has the patience and understanding to help him settle in and learn his new home. It is not essentially that you have experience of dogs with hearing or sight impairment but it is essential that you have commonsense and patience. Teddy has been happily living alongside his foster family’s placid, good natured dogs. He could not cope with boisterous dogs or younger children. And remember, he likes his tea at 5pm on the dot (he’s a bit more flexible about breakfast time!).





Teddy still makes me well up with tears each time I look at him, even just at his photos. He has come such a long way in such a short time. We have had him approximately 3 weeks now and we would love nothing more than to find him a home for Christmas.
Teddy is such a special little dog, with a gentle but spirited nature. Teddy is the reason why I do this job and why I will forever be a supporter of the RSPCA.

If you can offer Teddy a home please call 0161 882 0680.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Shep's Day Out


Shep
Anyone that works with rescue dogs will know how kennels are a necessary evil sometimes. We rescue dogs from terrible situations and whilst we assess them ready for a new home they have to stay in our kennels. We make them as comfy as possible with cosy beds, enrichment toys to keep them occupied and in our case, we even put classical music on the radio and hang up dried herbs to create some interesting smells! However, whenever it's possible it's great to be able to take a rescue dog for a day out. Today Shep had a day out in Ramsbottom - here are some pictures from his adventures! Shep is currently up for adoption and what a little cracker he is.

We arrive in Ramsbottom and discover a car boot where we were supposed to be parking. Oh well, Shep loves a good bargain and meeting new people so we have a good wander!

Sniffing out a bargain
Then we head up towards the Peel Tower (monument to Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the Police Force). It turns out there are folks abseiling down the Tower for charity so Shep gets to meet lots of people and their dogs. He loves other dogs but can't decide who to go and fuss first!

Peel Tower (see abseilers at the top!)
Shep posing with an eye on the cake stall

After stopping off for a cake & drink at the fortuitous charity stall we head over Holcombe Moor. Shep loves the open space and trots along, always stopping and returning to my side to check everything is okay.

Looking back at the Tower
View of Holcombe Moor
'Just checking your still here!'  


We stop for a quick energy boost. Although we've brought along special doggy treats for Shep he snubs them instantly! However, when we get our own food out suddenly he's interested again!

Turns out that Shep isn't a fan of dog treats....
...Kettle chips on the other hand!

After a bite to eat we head to Pilgrim's Cross. This is a pilgrim marker on the route from Manchester to Whalley Abbey that has existed since 1166! Quick photo shot opportunity!



We then head off the Moor down to Buckden Wood. Shep doesn't like water and avoids every puddle he possibly can! 

Heading off the moors

Buckden Wood

 After exploring the woods and avoiding the stream we cross over the River Irwell. Shep meets a whole gang of Spaniels and is surrounded! He takes it all in his stride, says hello and then gives us a little nudge to say 'I'm bored now, let's get going!'.

Crossing the Irwell


We are nearing the end of our day out now. After all that walking we head back to Ramsbottom; it turns out there's a Festival going on in town so it's all very noisy and busy; there's children, motorbikes, cars and trains. Shep comes into his own and enjoys strutting through the high street and saying hello to everyone. We have a rest on a bench and do some serious people watching....

Clearly stressed by all the people about... or not!

Warning to potential adopter of Shep: he thinks he's lap sized!


Sadly, we need to get back to the kennels before they close so off we go back to the car. Shep instantly hops in the car and lies down. I sit in the back with him and he dozes off whilst keeping one eye on the cars passing by. Belly rubs all the way back to Manchester.


If you are looking for a new dog and would like to know more about our Shep click here. Shep is very calm around other dogs (and needs a home with one) and has lived with cats. He really is a wonderful 'all rounder' and wants someone to adopt him and take him on adventures every day.

By Hannah (Trustee of RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch)



Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Guest blogger: My Swimathon Challenge

Guest blog post by Chris Newton, trustee, cat foster & fundraiser!

 
During March 2014, as a foster daddy, I came into contact with quite possibly the wonkiest, but absolutely the sweetest and most adorable kitten called Elsa. Elsa is a special little girl who has been on a long journey, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of the RSPCA Manchester & Salford branch is now ready to find a new home!
 

Elsa in the early days just after being rescued
Elsa now at 4 months and looking for a new home!


As you can see from the picture, Elsa isn’t your usual kitten. She has the tip of her left ear missing, a slight tilt of the head and those sad eyes that makes you want to scoop her up and cuddle her forever. Because of those abnormalities Elsa had to stay in foster care slightly longer to monitor her progress with regular vets trips. Sadly those vet trips cost the branch money and it was during one of my trips with Elsa that I decided to raise funds for this amazing branch who I am honoured to be so heavily involved with.
 
After having a look at various way I could challenge myself I selected a 5km (5100m to be exact) swimathon, which ticked my two main targets, 1) something I couldn’t just do without putting in a lot of effort and 2) I wouldn’t end up injured or in hospital doing!! Over ten years ago I had swum competitively for a club, I was confident I could still swim properly, but fully aware of the complete lack of stamina I would have and knew that it wouldn’t be easy building that up to the required level.
 
I found myself a 10-week training plan online, ordered what I was missing (literally everything except my trusted goggles) and set off for a trial swim to see if I could actually still swim properly, by that stage I hadn’t been in a pool for 4 months, even then it was just for a cool down paddle more than a swim! The trial session went as well as could be expected and from that moment it was full steam ahead.
 
Over the course of the 11 sessions I swam over 1,500 lengths of the pool at my gym clocking up over 26km worth of training. There were times when every muscle in my body was aching due to exhaustion but I knew that I had to keep going in order to complete my challenge and get as much money as possible for the ones that count, the animals.
 
 
On the day of the swim I can honestly say I was fairly nervous, not for any other reason than for letting the branch down and for whatever reason I couldn’t complete the swim. I knew I had trained hard enough that I should be fine, but there is always the element of doubt that I could go too fast at the start and wilt away towards the end. At 7pm on Monday 16th June I pushed off for my first length in the pool.
 
Before I started my training I had set myself a respectable, if not earth moving target of between 2-3 hours. As my training went on my target decreased. I had worked out that I could do 3 lengths a minute during certain areas of my training, doing some basic maths I then reckoned that under 2 hours was achievable including a few mini drink breaks to keep hydrated. It was with a massive grin on my face that after just 94 minutes I completed length 300 out of 300!
 

 
I’m absolutely delighted to have raised over £425 for the branch, which will go to help all the animals the branch look after. Thank you to all those who donated through the sponsorship forms at work and on my JustGiving page, I really appreciate your generosity, it is far beyond what I ever expected to raise for the branch. If you'd like to sponsor me retrospectively please do via the link above!
 

What next? Nothing planned for some time, but you can never rule a 10k swim out can you?
 
 

If you are inspired by Chris's story why not register for our next big fundraiser in October 2014 - the Fire & Ice Walk!

 

 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Mum's need love too!

This post is by volunteer cat cuddler, and adopter, Jacquie Cahill.

Last Friday – whilst I was at the cattery –  made me think.  We have lots of beautiful little ladies who have just raised their kittens and are now looking for their Forever Home, whilst still being little more than kitten themselves.  Yes, we all find the newborn kittens cute beyond compare and adoption can be fast, but I wanted to spare a thought for our Scarlet and what she has brought to our family since coming home in February.
 
Xyla's kittens, Marble and Duplo
Scarlet (was Xyla) burst out of her cat carrier and jumped into our hearts and home on February 7th, somewhat dazed and a little timid having been found straying on the streets and in difficulty with labour last November, she had raised her two surviving kittens and this was now Her Time.  Determined to make up for lost adventures – but naively unaware of the Outside World – Scarlet initially chose to explore the house on 2 feet; either standing on her back paws to reach up, or doing hand-stands to excavate power leads and dust balls down behind cupboards.  Somewhere amidst this euphoria of discovery she accidentally encountered 6kg Frasier-Cat (formerly Rigby,  adopted from the branch in 2012) on that first evening, quite a bit ahead of plan.  It was Love At First Sight… and the feline friends united as Partners in Crime. 
Thus having breached confinement in any one room, Scarlet did what she knew best… escorting each of the teenage children to bed that first night; then and now always with continuously running commentary of “Brrpp” that is her genetic legacy from being in part (0.1%?) Siamese.  She quickly established the eldest teen (Human, age 18) to be her Mummy-Kitten and deserving of extra TLC – an inexplicably apt bond with the least pet-obsessed member of the family; the two since becoming almost inseparable, with Scarlet being companion (with a particular fondness for the ESC key) and playmate through the stresses of recent A Levels. 
Her rampages through the 3 storeys of the house, in pursuit or pursuing of Frasier, turned our quiet and remote countryside home into a Den of Madness.  This extended into the garden and fields, once she ventured outside.  It was at this point that Frasier introduced Scarlet to his Harem of ex-battery Hens (Frasier spends daylight hours masquerading as a chicken and, to date, suffers the indignity of hours sitting unsuccessfully in the nesting boxes).  And World War III broke out between Scarlet and Edith-Chicken…  Daily ambushes have become the acceptable norm – with each lying in wait for the other; one moment where Scarlet chases Edith across the garden, then with Edith turned and chasing a retreating Scarlet.  Fellow hens Gloria, Gladys and Marilyn look on as the retired elderly ladies that they are, in disgust, feathery hands resting on feathery hips in judgement… whilst Chicken-Cat Frasier runs around in circles in concern with his divided loyalties. 

Indoors, Scarlet does not understand technology.  Working from home has become a challenge for us all because she believes we are talking to her when we are on the ‘phone, so she answers back with trademark aplomb!  TV is for the feeble-minded (a cat after my own heart!) and couch-potatoes require distraction, so Scarlet choses this time to charge into and around the room like a marauding elephant.  She teasingly chews on soft furnishings and swats Frasier’s and teenagers’ ears until someone breaks rank and plays.  ‘Play’ typically involves a small cat and a large middle-aged woman diving behind sofas in a game of ‘Peep’, or practicing ambush skills from behind floor-length curtains.  World Cup 2014 means lots of playtime!  Bedtime is signalled by lights out and a trip to the treats cupboard for a nightcap Chewy Stick, with enough energy in reserve for her to risk life and limb each night in attempting to swipe 6kg Frasier’s stick.
Fair to note that Scarlet is rekindling her snatched kitten-hood and bringing 2 adults, 3 teens, a grumpy cat and 4 recalcitrant hens with her on her Voyage of Discovery.  For the price of cat food and good pet insurance, our lives have been changed for the better in having a little feline Pocket Rocket at home.  Meeting the beautiful young feline Mums last week, who are looking for their Forever Homes now, I hope other families see the opportunity to also experience what these girls can bring to their lives.  We simply love Scarlet (and Frasier, Edith, Gloria, Gladys and Marilyn…. The teens are less endearing!!) and feel very lucky.



Faye is looking for a home and so are her kittens Forrest and Finn


Laika needs a home and so do her kittens Hubble and Sputnik


Chloe is looking for adoption along with all kittens beginning with the letter 'C'

For more info about adoption please visit http://www.manchesterandsalfordrspca.org.uk/cats.html

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Newsletter: Spring edition

This year so far....


We've delayed our quarterly newsletter so it coincides with our AGM invitations. It means we are able to give you an overview of our work for the first four months of the year so you can learn more about what we have been up to.

Perhaps the most pleasing news of all is that our admission and rehoming figures are up on 2013. This is quite remarkable news to us because we have had three cattery closures so far this year due to cat flu, have admitted more rabbits than ever before and have admitted so many dogs that have experienced such terrible neglect and abuse that they have required rehabilitation before they could be rehomed. 

We've admitted 157 animals (122 in 2013) and rehomed 118 (110 in 2014). Alas, we are now coping with unprecedented numbers of nursing queens and kittens at such an earlier time than usual into the kitten season. We fear Summer is going to be a long and hard slog and with fewer offers of homes we worry about the future of all homeless and abused animals. Thanks to your support for the work that we do we will keep soldiering on and keep our fingers crossed for a lottery win! 

Facing up to the Cat Crisis
 
We are a nation of cat lovers. In our fast-paced, globalized world, cats and their semi-independent lifestyle increasingly fit our habits and sensibilities. And yet the UK is reaching a crisis point of rescue cat population, which may not be apparent to the general public, but the facts and figures are nothing short of startling. The cat population of the UK is estimated to be as high as 11.6 million, with close to 32,000 currently housed in RSPCA rescues - a figure which is only increasing. Rescues are so full that many branches of the RSPCA are resorting to using private boarding establishments. What was once known as 'kitten season' has swelled from a couple of months to a full half-year and more. The national RSPCA has produced a report on the matter and states just one simple answer: neutering. 

Understandably, neutering can be a touchy subject. The procedure itself is not particularly invasive or risky for either sex, and has proven health and social benefits. Castration in males helps to reduce the spread of FIV (the cat equivalent of HIV) and a neutered cat is less likely to stray.

And yet many cat owners feel anxious about putting their beloved moggy under the knife. Furthermore, many owners of female cats believe in the widely-held myth that the queen is entitled to have at least one litter before being spayed - that, effectively, she should be given one opportunity to be a mother. This may seem nice in principle, but in reality many owners are not prepared nor capable of looking after, weaning, and rehoming a whole litter of kittens. It is a stressful and messy experience, for both felines and humans alike, and all too often leads to abandonment and neglect. So, before this crisis can be properly tackled, these attitudes of the cat-loving public need to be addressed and, ultimately, minds need to be changed.

Fenella's Story

Fenella's story is a typical one. Abandoned with her four kittens, Fenella had puncture wounds all around her tail where she had been attacked by another animal. She and her kittens were rescued and passed onto the branch and then to one of our foster carers. Sadly, one kitten didn't last beyond his fifth day, but the others survived and are now thriving. We can only speculate about where Fenella and her kittens came from, but perhaps she was one of these cats due for neutering after her 'one litter', before that litter became too much to handle and she was cast out to fend for herself. Fenella was lucky that we had a space available with our fabulous foster carer, but if we had been full we would, out of necessity, have had to turn her and her kittens away.


We work hard at our welfare events and online to emphasise the extent of the problem and the importance of neutering. We have a limited number of cat neutering vouchers available to those who need most financial help, and we strive to promote other neutering schemes in the area offered by other charities. But there is only so far our voices can reach. What is desperately needed now is an attitude change in our society. The British public need to recognise and acknowledge that the only sure-fire way of reducing the abandoned cat population is to cut out the hesitation associated with neutering. A startling 85% of litters are unplanned. It is time to take responsibility for our accidents and give cats a fighting chance.

Award-Winning volunteers

We are delighted and honoured to congratulate two of our amazing volunteers who picked up awards this month for their fantastic charity work.

Dog-walker Lucy Swinton (pictured) was awarded first place in the University of Manchester Staff Volunteer of the Year Awards 2014 for her work with children in Romania. Our volunteer extraordinaire Hannah Brookfield (pictured) was Highly Commended in the same category, and - on the same day - was a finalist in the annual Petplan Animal Charity Volunteer of the Year Awards 2014 in Birmingham.

Both Lucy and Hannah work tirelessly and selflessly to make the world a far better place, and we cannot thank them enough for everything they do for the branch.


Burning ambitions and cold feet

Following hot on the heels of last year's charity zipslide our next big event has been set. On the 4th October 2014, the hardiest (some might say, most foolish) of our amazing fundraisers will be taking off shoes and shoes and walking barefoot over hot coals and broken glass.

We love to set a challenge here at the Manchester & Salford Branch. Two years ago we sent our thrill-seekers down the tallest lighthouse in the UK. we followed that with last year's zipslide - which raised an astonishing 8K for our animals - and now we have this: the ultimate test of elemental fears! But our thrill-seekers love it too and places on the Fire & Ice Walk are already filling up. Do you fancy stepping up to the challenge? Book your place by emailing us on rspcamcr_salford@btconnect.com!