Friday, November 7, 2008

If you think we have problems!

IFAW vet Dr Prasanta Boro rescues a really large kitty! Respect!

Another traffic accident cat

He's an entire male, all black and picked up on Huntingdon road, Girton by ACO Justin. Justin was concerned that he might have a ruptured diaphragm as he seemed to be struggling to breathe, but the emergency vets have x-rayed him and think he's probably got away with a pelvic fracture and shock. They're going to give him fluids and stabilise him over the weekend then X-Ray again on Monday to confirm whether he can go out to a foster home for cage rest or if he needs to be transferred to our clinic for surgery.

I've just added him to our database of incoming stray cats and clicked Google's analyse form button. The result is very interesting, although it's only a small sample. All of the injured male cats without exception are entires. The sex ratio is slightly skewed in favour of females (9 females to 6 males).

I'm not surprised that neutering would reduce male cats' risk of being found injured or ill, but I am surprised at such a dramatic effect.

I suppose it could be that neutered males are more likely to stay close to home, so if they're hit by a car their owners are more likely to find them and take them to a vet themselves. Possibly owners who neuter are also more inclined to chip, so they'd be contacted by the emergency vet and the cat wouldn't enter our system.

It will be interesting to see figures over a whole year and find if there's any difference outside the breeding season.

Further thought

I'm wondering whether some of cats recorded as female could in fact be neutered males. There is a bit of a tendency for people to call any cat of unknown sex "she" and, faced with an obviously injured animal, gender identification isn't uppermost in most finders' minds. We have occasionally taken in cats and only identified their sex further down the line when one of us thought to up-end them and look, so it is possible that some of those who don't survive or are rehomed by the vet didn't belong to the gender that was originally reported.

It does underline the importance of checking out reports of found cats that don't match the details of a lost cat in every respect.

Internet Resources

Archie the cat's website documents Archie's recovery after injury to one of his hind legs meant it had to be amputated and shows how well cats can adjust to life on three legs. We have several three-legged cats up for rehoming and Archie's story may give some prospective adopters confidence that it should be no detriment to their quality of life.

The Interactive Bunny is a fun learning tool to encourage people to research what rabbits need before acquiring one as a pet. 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ghost: still looking

Unfortunately the home we thought we had found for Ghost didn't pan out, so he's still looking.

Request from Caroline

Caroline, who runs Rabbit Residence Rescue, has asked us to spread this message to parents who are thinking of buying a rabbit as a pet for their children:

"I have been running a rescue centre for unwanted pet rabbits for 14 years now. I started caring for 30 rabbits at any one time. In 2002 it was recorded that over 33,000 rabbits were abandoned each year in this country. This has sadly got worse and in 2005 The Rabbit Residence Rescue had to increase its space to care for 60 rabbits at any one time. Now in 2008 we have had to make space for 100 rabbits.

I am at my wit’s end with parents ringing me up asking me to take pet rabbits in because the children are no longer caring for them; the children have grown out of them or are bored of them. Rabbits can live for 10 years or more. They are not toys and if you are not interested in them as the parent DO NOT PURCHASE THEM. We are not here to pick up your pieces and should not be part of the equation when buying a rabbit."

Rabbits are now the third most popular pet (after cats and dogs), but they get a very raw deal because people do not properly appreciate their needs and how much work is needed to look after them correctly. Always remember that they are not "pocket pets" — a rabbit is as big as a cat or small dog and has similar needs in terms of exercise and mental stimulation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Please Remember: Fireworks Frighten Animals

Sad update on ginger kitten

Unfortunately he died this morning. The Vet School think he probably had internal injuries which were causing the fluid bloating in his abdomen and breathing difficulties.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Update on ginger kitten

He's now walking about quite happily, so the vets are now thinking that he's not got anything broken and his initial reluctance to stand was just due to bruising and soreness. Fortunately he's tested FIV/FeLV negative, but they do think he's got some wound infection — possibly he was injured some time before the original finder came across him. They're giving him metacam to reduce his temperature and fluids and antibiotics to help him recover from the infection. 

Fingers crossed.

Consultation on Cat, Dog and Equine codes

DEFRA has just issued a consultation on the proposed codes for the welfare of cats, dogs and equines. Once completed, these codes will operate in conjunction with the Animal Welfare Act to enforce the duties of animal owners towards their pets, so their contents are extremely important.

Draft Codes (all PDFs)

I've only had time to read through the cat code so far and most of it looks excellent, although it goes a bit overboard on the idea that cats are completely solitary animals: that's true to some extent, but it's also true that female cats will raise their kittens in communal nurseries for protection from predators.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another kitty

He's a 10-12 week old ginger kitten, and was picked up after being hit by a car. Finder didn't know the area, so couldn't give a good description of the location, but took quite a lot of trouble to get him to the 24 hour vet for emergency first aid. He's now fairly bright and interested in food, but they think he's probably got a cracked pelvis. They're hopeful that there isn't any spinal injury as he seems to have conscious control of urination.

Nicola is going to pick him up from Vet24 tomorrow morning and get him to the clinic for transfer to the Vet School Hospital. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Redemption: by Nathan Winograd

Redemption is a fascinating account of the campaign to end the killing of healthy pets in American animal shelters.
From similar beginnings, animal protection societies evolved very differently in the US and the UK. In this country the RSPCA, Scottish and Ulster SPCAs remained comparatively separate from local authority dog wardens (and local authorities on the whole confined their activities only to stray dogs). In the US, local SPCAs almost invariably became the major agencies of "animal control" (usually with some financial support from the local authority) and ended up operating open-access shelters with a remit to take in any pet animals whose owners no longer wanted them. Until pet spaying and neutering became routine and safe operations, this inevitably meant that SPCAs spent much of their time and energy killing precisely the animals they cared about.
Sadly, the advent of safe fertility control methods did not lead to the rapid decrease in killing that might have been expected and Winograd lays out a very persuasive argument explaining why this is so and what the animal protection movement needs to do to achieve the objective of no destruction of healthy animals. Perhaps the most important message of his book is that caring for animals is not enough: saving pets' lives is impossible if the would-be animal rescuers lack empathy for human beings and drive away the very people who would choose to adopt shelter animals. The majority of pet owners are decent and want to do the right thing.
The second important message is the need for transparency and accurate documentation of statistics to show what is actually happening in animal shelters. Without such statistics it is impossible to make rational decisions: one reason why the killing continues is the belief that there is a huge problem of "pet over-population" and there are far more animals than available homes. In fact, Winograd argues, this has never been true for adult animals. There was a problem of annual surplus production of young animals and this has already been significantly diminished by owners choosing to get their pets neutered. So long as people keep pets there will be some who get into difficulties and have to relinquish their animals, but this is balanced by people who want to acquire pets. The job of animal shelters is to match up the two - if necessary providing support in terms of advice on training etc. Provision of low-cost and/or free neutering services is vital, but it is not sensibly viewed as a way of reducing the overall pet population but as a control on that population's production of young animals.
It would be very interesting to have a proper comparison of the US vs UK situation (possible PhD subject for an aspiring student?). The US shelters Winograd discusses are all open-access - i.e. the shelter is required to take any animal presented to it. By comparison virtually all UK shelters are "limited access" (they can refuse animals if they are full) and even the local authority dog wardens are only required to take dogs who are actually stray and running loose; they do not normally take unwanted dogs direct from their owners. This means that even the local authority shelters are virtually "no-kill" by US standards and charity shelters normally treat rather than euthanase even quite seriously ill or injured animals. It may be that this is just displacing the decision to euthanase from the shelter to the owner: we simply do not know.
The no-kill equation
I. Feral Cat TNR (Trap Neuter Return) Program

II. High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter

III. Rescue Groups

IV. Foster Care

V. Comprehensive Adoption Programs

VI. Pet Retention

VII. Medical and Behavior Rehabilitation

VIII. Public Relations/Community Involvement

IX. Volunteers

X. A Compassionate Director