Friday, September 12, 2008


Starting to get calls from people concerned about small hedgehogs in their gardens. Hedgehogs of any size who are seen wandering during the day are very likely to be unwell in some way. In this case, the best thing to do is to capture the hedgehog (use gloves to avoid being scratched by its spines) and confine it in a box before telephoning the RSPCA control centre 0300 1234 999. They will do their best to arrange for the hedgehog to be collected and taken to the closest RSPCA wildlife centre. (In our case, this is East Winch, in Norfolk).  I suggest you put the box somewhere where any insect life will not be a problem, such as a garden shed.

Very small hedgehogs who appear in the garden after dusk are probably not yet at risk because there is lots of wild food about still (the slugs in my garden are so fit they scare my cats!). If you want to improve their chances of surviving their first hibernation by providing extra rations (or just want to encourage them closer), you can get dried food made specially for hedgehogs from most pet shops. Being mammals, hedgehogs can produce their own body heat, so the unusually chilly summer isn't a problem for them in the way it is for cold blooded hibernators like tortoises, or really tiny mammals, such as bats. That means that, for the moment, they're really best left where they are rather than taking up space in a wildlife hospital that may be needed by another animal. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dog flea treatments and cats

Don't! is the short answer.

Late last night I had a call from the emergency vet to say they had a client in the surgery with no money at all and two kittens both suffering seizures from permethrin poisoning after being dabbed with dog flea treatment from the supermarket. We agreed the branch would cover the cost of first aid over night and that the owner would pay for further care at our own clinic in the morning when she could borrow money from her family. 

Even with the help from us, the kittens' owner will be spending quite a lot more than it would have cost her to take them to our clinic and buy treatment that is safe and effective for young cats. 

Using "over the counter" flea remedies is understandably tempting to pet owners who are on a very low budget. Some of these are actually reasonably effective, but there are three recurring ways in which things can go pear-shaped.
  1. If the treatment reduces the number of fleas but doesn't get rid of them (or if the owner doesn't realise there is another reason for their pet's skin trouble) the animal can wind up almost bald or covered in itching sores. If a skin condition doesn't improve within a week or so, always seek qualified help.
  2. Flea collars can cause terrible injuries.
  3. If the owner doesn't read the label and uses dog flea treatment on a cat, the cat may be very seriously ill, or even die. Always read the instructions for any medication or insecticide (including chemicals for treating carpets, pet bedding etc.).

No wonder there's a credit crunch

Opening a bank account (to invest the funds we don't need to spend right away) is much more difficult than you might think. Just setting up a second interest-bearing account with the bank we already use for the current account involves two personal visits, a form covering 6 sides of A4 and signatures of two trustees. Creating a completely new deposit account with a bank that doesn't have any track record with us means a 24 page form, providing personal banking details and addresses of three trustees, signatures of three trustees and giving the names of all the other trustees.

I suppose it does make money-laundering more difficult, but I am beginning to feel that a sock under the bed would be less time-consuming. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Newmarket shop refurbishment

Our shop at 156 High Street, Newmarket will be closed on Friday and Saturday this week (12th and 13th September) for refurbishment and will re-open again the following Monday, 15th September. Many thanks to Lorna, Sharon and their team for all the hard work they've put into making the shop such a success. We hope that the improvements will lead to even better sales in the future.

So far this year the shop has made a net profit of £5,500 towards the work of the branch.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More and more cats

Elderly all-black female with probable thyroid trouble handed in from Tennison  Road area; very thin dark tortoiseshell with suspected kidney failure in via Vet24. Plus a returnee originally rehomed in June who didn't get on with the existing resident cat.

On the upside, one of the vets got so fond of the kitten with the ruptured diaphragm and fractured leg that he's going to adopt her, and the cat with two broken hind legs is being fostered with a view to adoption if he gets on with the pair of resident cats.

Monday, September 8, 2008

August Figures

A very slow month for rehoming: only three cats and one bird. We provided veterinary treatment for 227 dogs, 122 cats, 8 rabbits and 12 miscellaneous animals and neutered 15 dogs and 8 cats.

Total outgoings were £12,409 and we raised £8,411 with shop takings still rather depressed although total sales at the Cambridge shops were up £800 compared with July.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

RSPCA Rescue dog of the Year Show

You can vote for Rescue dog of the year on the RSPCA website from Monday 8th September.

Due to various mishaps and shortage of helpers we didn't manage to run a heat in 2008 and we need to be starting our planning now if we're going to run one in 2009. If you might be able to help, please email either of the two Rosemarys. There's some further information about what's involved on the branch website. You don't need any special training or experience - except that if you have any experience of judging and would be willing to volunteer to judge "fun" classes we would love to hear from you. Helpers are needed to serve on stalls, make and serve refreshments, act as judge's runners, book in dogs etc. etc. We'd like to get together a small team who would be prepared to get together for monthly planning meetings. Previously we've tried to make arrangements during our normal branch committee meetings and it's never been a success because it just means we don't have enough time for either the show or the committee business to be discussed properly.