Friday, November 14, 2008

Update on special needs cat

I called in to collect medication for one of my own cats yesterday and the vet called me through to show me the FIV positive cat. He's a really handsome cat and very friendly. The lady who found him and has been feeding him really doesn't want to have to have him put to sleep, but she can't put her own cats at risk by having him back. 

To re-iterate Janine's post: anyone adopting him would need to be able to keep him away from cats who are not FIV positive, either indoors or in a secure run. He isn't currently showing any signs of a defective immune system, so he may remain healthy for many years.

If you might be able to help, please email

Further update on the blocked bladder saga

After discussion with the Vet School and the private vets who started his treatment we've agreed the best thing would be for him to stay at the private vet over the weekend to see how he goes on medication. If all is well by Monday and he's urinating normally with no signs of bleeding, we can probably think about transferring him to our kennels with a view to seeking a new home. If antibiotics aren't solving the problem, then we need to think about a transfer to our clinic (and from there to the Vet School Hospital) on Tuesday. 

A possible alternative would be to get him into Block Fen animal home as they have a vet nurse on the staff and a fully kitted-out surgery for animals on the site, but I phoned them today and they're completely full up at present. (If you're as mystified as I was by their Google map, which appears to show a shed in the middle of a field, I think the answer is that Google uses satellite pictures from quite a long time ago).

Meanwhile Richard thinks he's got the other cats sorted out. Their owner will keep two neutered females and the other two will be rehomed with her sister, who promises to get them neutered and to deal with their flea problem. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Update on the blocked bladder saga

Well, Richard, our local inspector has visited the owner and persuaded her to sign the cat over to us for rehoming as she really isn't in a position to manage his ongoing condition. We're going to help her with the cost of flea treatment for the other cats and CP will cover their neutering (as they've already issued the vouchers for this). 

Richard thinks she'll be able to cope with the remaining cats once they're no longer producing kittens to add to the colony. 

Never-ending saga of a cat with a blocked bladder

This all started innocently, with a call from one of our local private vets asking for help for one of their clients. The cat had a completely blocked bladder, so needed urgent surgery to remove the stone which was causing the blockage. Without this, his bladder would almost certainly rupture and he would suffer a painful death. 

I agreed that we would cover the cost of emergency treatment to save the cat's life, but explained that we can only give help at private vets on a one-off basis and that the owner would need to register with our clinic and use that for future help. At that stage it turned out that this lady has several more cats, so I asked her to get them all registered so that they would be eligible for out of hours treatment in an emergency as well. 

The operation was successful and, a few days later, the vet called to notify me that a CP (Cat's Protection) volunteer had offered to drive the owner and all her cats to our clinic for registration. 

Yesterday evening the poor CP volunteer phoned to say that she'd collected the original cat from the vet, but the owner was now refusing to let us see the rest. This is never a good sign, and it turns out that CP had already been trying unsuccessfully to persuade her to have them spayed (at their expense). Agreed the CP volunteer should bring the sick cat in for a check-up in any case as he needs ongoing treatment for the bladder problem.

Unfortunately the Vet School decided that they legally couldn't see him without the owner's permission. Frantic examination of the rules on conduct of vets threw up the suggestion that, as vets are entitled to hold animals if the owner won't pay, it would be legally possible for the private vet to take him back for continuing care. This isn't a solution, but it's better than taking the risk that the owner will have him back and just ignore his condition until he's at death's door again.

At this stage, I'm afraid we've got no alternative to passing the problem to our local inspector, as the cats are clearly at risk and the sick one can't stay at the private vet indefinitely. I don't know how much of all this is due to the level of fear of the RSPCA which is encouraged by irresponsible reporting and campaigns by vested interests, but it certainly can't help matters.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update on cat from Girton

He's now been examined by the orthopaedic surgeon at the Vet School and he definitely needs surgical repair of his pelvis to make it stable so that he can stand and use his back legs properly. At the moment he still isn't urinating by himself, but they don't think his bladder is paralysed—just very difficult to empty under his own steam because of the soreness of his pelvic muscles. Both his hind legs respond to stimuli, so they're hopeful that there's no significant nerve damage. We won't know for certain until after the surgery, which they're hoping to do tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Urgent: special needs cat needing a home

URGENT post from Janine

I have heard of a young stray black male cat (around two years old) who was taken by his finder to a vets in Cambridge to be scanned for a microchip. He hasn't been chipped. But whilst at the vets he was blood tested and unfortunately found to be FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) positive.

He is not showing any symptoms and, despite having been very timid when he first turned up at finders, he is now a lovely friendly fellow. It seems a great shame for him to be put to sleep which, at the moment, is the only option if a home can't be found.

I've a lot of experience with FIV cats & have a run specially for two FIV cats. But, as it's full, I can't take him myself at the moment. If you know of anyone who may be able to take on this little fellow, I would be happy to give as much information as I can about FIV cats.

Basically what is needed is:

  •  to be kept away from FIV negative cats to prevent it being passed on. It is however only contagious to cats, not other species, and not easily transmitted: has to get into bloodstream - usually through biting another cat
  • this means either being kept as an indoor home (or with an outdoor run if available) and not mixing with cats unless they are also FIV positive.
  • FIV positive cats can go on for years with no symptoms. However, if or when the virus affects their immune system, any illness they get can then affect them very quickly and so they need a close eye on their health.

Please let me know if anyone can help.
Best Wishes

If anyone can help with this cat, please email

Monday, November 10, 2008

October figures

Just finished the spreadsheet of welfare activity figures for October:

Rehoming: six cats, three dogs

Low-cost veterinary treatments provided for 296 dogs, 210 cats, 11 rabbits and 10 miscellaneous small animals.

Fifteen dogs, nine cats, three rabbits and two ferrets neutered.

Eight dogs, six cats, one rabbit and one fancy rat put to sleep on veterinary advice that further treatment was futile and only likely to prolong suffering.

Falling Through the Cracks

The RSPCA and the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) have an agreement which governs the way we decide the financial criteria for allowing owners to attend RSPCA clinics and hospital. Basically this is designed to avoid creating a situation where charity clinics could undercut local private vets for routine operations and eventually drive them out of business. 

The agreement is that our clinics and hospitals only treat animals taken into RSPCA care for rehoming or owned by people on  state benefits (including pensions, working tax credit and students in full time education living away from home). Anyone who is not on state benefits is deemed to be capable of arranging treatment by a private vet — because they would normally be able to insure their animals or else pay using a credit card or bank overdraft if they do not have cash available. Diverting people who are on benefits to charity clinics is not likely to undercut private vets because these are people who probably would be unable to pay anyway.

Virtually all other welfare charities who run animal clinics operate similar criteria, although some have more restricted lists of benefits that they will accept as proof of low income. 

Most of the time this is clearly in the best interest of everyone, including the animals, because there is no way we could afford to run a complete "NHS for animals" providing veterinary care for all domestic pets — even if the RSPCA's entire resources were diverted to running clinics. If the private vets closed because we were taking away their clients through unfair competition everyone would be worse off. 

It can be very hard, though, if an owner's application for benefit is delayed through no fault of their own. This seems to be happening more frequently — usually because the owner has lost their job, or because a partner who was earning moves out. We can legitimately give a small amount of help via private vets as that doesn't contravene the agreement against unfair competition, but there are limits on what's possible. 

Our home-checkers are wonderful

I don't know which RSPCA animal home originally decided that Times journalist Alice Miles was not really suitable to adopt a dog, but they appear to have been spot on in their assessment. 

Incidentally, her experiences trying to house-train her puppy demonstrate exactly why we say that there are potential problems if people who work full-time adopt dogs.