Friday, August 29, 2008


The RSPCA has an ethical investment policy - basically that society funds shouldn't be invested in anything which causes harm to animals (as that would negate the point of having them, anyway). Putting this into practice isn't exactly as straightforward as it might seem, as I've been finding out.

If you have large amounts of money that you can tie up for several years, there's no problem getting a tailor-made investment package where your funds are invested in companies which fit whatever criteria you specify. For smaller amounts (where "small" means less than about £500,000) it's only really feasible to put your money into existing schemes, and in our case it appears that the only really viable choice is between building societies (you know the funds are invested in property) and the Co-operative Bank (they have a pre-existing list of sectors where they won't invest depositors' money). It's looking as though the Co-op is going to be the right "home" for the money we know we won't need to touch for at least a year.

Unfortunately this doen't completely solve our problems as the Co-op doesn't have many branches where our shops and volunteers can bank cash takings, so it wouldn't be practical to transfer our current account there. We probably also need to maintain some cash on short-term deposit at our current bank because we need to be able to transfer money quickly into the current account when necessary.

I sometimes get asked rather aggressively "what companies do you invest your funds in?" - with the implication that we're probably funding smoking beagles and cosmetics testing. It always sounds rather evasive to say "that's not how banking works", but I'm afraid that's the actual truth. We're not big enough or rich enough to be investing in individual share holdings.


Another two cats — and a first for one of our inspectors, who wound up so covered in fleas that she had to bin her outer clothes and spray herself with insecticide before heading home for a complete shower and change. I wonder if Frontline is licensed for use on humans? Goodness knows what state the poor cats must be in after being shut in with that number of blood-sucking parasites.

This is one health issue where completely feral (free-living) cats are actually better-off than very poorly-kept domestic ones, as they are able to keep down their parasite burden to some extent by changing their sleeping places so that fleas can't build up. When we choose to keep cats inside we take on the responsibility of flea control. There are various veterinary preparations which will kill fleas on the cat, but it's also important to clean the surroundings (and if necessary spray with an approved product).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Elderly Tabby/tortie?

Has anyone in the Cambridge area lost an elderly dark tabby/tortie cat? She was brought in just over a week ago suffering from severe dehydration as well as being very thin, so may have been living rough for some time. She seems to have had an infection at some point which has left her third eyelids permanently partially raised, but this may have happened after she got lost. She initially had to be put on a drip and we thought we were going to be forced to put her to sleep, but she's picked up after being rehydrated and put on a renal diet and she's now maintaining reasonable body condition without artificial fluids.

Fenella's story illustrates the problem of unidentifiable older cats. She's so friendly that she must have had a home at some time, but without a micro-chip it's unlikely that we can re-unite her with her original owners. While she's reasonably well we can ensure her a good quality of life with one of our fosterers, but with so many cats it's not possible to give older ones the same kind of nursing care they would be able to expect in a home of their own.

If you might be interested in fostering animals for our branch, please email with subject: fostering

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The caesarian cat came through the operation, but the kittens didn't survive - she had a malformation of the uterus, so she's been spayed.

O'Malley's gone out to his new home (that's him in the picture).

Four abandoned kittens in - booked into the Peterborough kennels for the moment as the ones we normally use are still full-to-bursting.

If you might be interested in adopting a kitten, please email

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Call from one of our local vets to say someone's brought in a stray cat who needs a caesarian. They're being very good about keeping the cost to us to an absolute minimum, but (assuming mum and babies all survive) it means yet another intake of cats into our already-stretched facilities. Fortunately we're still at least in a situation where there's no doubt about reasonably quickly finding homes for kittens - it's the adult cats who stick in kennels.

Have my doubts about whether the cat is a genuine stray - but even if this is a "story" to avoid paying for the operation at least someone cared enough about her welfare to get her to a vet.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pet Insurance woes

Pet insurance is a life-saver, but owners can be lulled into a false sense of security if they don't make sure their policy is the right one for their financial circumstances. Many policies have an excess - a fixed amount of money which the animal's owner is expected to cover themselves - and will only pay out if the cost of treatment is more than the excess amount. It can be as much as eighty pounds - a sum which an owner on a really low income may not be able to lay their hands on in an emergency. Some policies only pay out once the owner has settled the vet's bill in full - again potentially something that an owner who doesn't have a credit card will find completely impossible.
Aggravatingly, this is just what's happened to a caller who's adopted a dog from a local rescue centre (not RSPCA) recently. The centre rehomes all its dogs with 30 day health insurance cover, and she'd delayed registering her dog at our clinic until after the bank holiday as a result.
Getting stung by jellyfish on an August bank holiday, will set you back £100+ at a private vet if you are a labrador. Unfortunately her policy has an excess of £80 which she doesn't have - and she doesn't have access to her savings because they are in a Post Office account.
Moral - always read the small print and never put off until tomorrow what you need to do today.

Running round in circles

Most of the people we deal with mean well, but they can create complicated situations. Phoned last night by an elderly lady who takes her dogs to our clinic. Her grandson's looking after his parent's home while they're away and taken in an unwanted kitten. This would have been fine, until kitty managed to get caught in a door - now has a leg swelling to twice its natural size, and, of course, being a bank holiday weekend, only the 24 hour emergency vet is open. At 7 weeks, the kitten's not old enough to have been registered at our clinic for their emergency cover.
Managed to get kitty into Vet24. They think his leg's probably broken, so they'll keep him on pain relief until Tuesday when we can transfer him to our clinic. If the leg is broken, we're looking at around £200 to get it pinned, even with our RSPCA discount, so I think the owner may have to sign the kitten over for rehoming. Sad, as he's a nice lad and very concerned about it.

Parvo yet again

Another puppy with parvovirus. Treated with fluids at the clinic on Thursday and Saturday and again this morning as an emergency.