Friday, January 23, 2009

Why we tell you to keep cats in for at least two weeks after adoption

Cats are not like dogs (which is probably not news to most people). A settled group of cats will recognise one another and bond socially, but they do not roam around together like a wolf-pack. Individual cats will leave the group's resting area to hunt singly, and, if something traumatic (like noisy fireworks) makes the group scatter and run they will re-group by returning to their familiar area. They get to know where there are safe hiding places and will run for them in case of danger.

By initially confining a new cat in one room, until confidently eating, using a litter tray etc., then allowing her to explore the house, and only letting her outdoors after several weeks have elapsed, you are establishing that your home is the safe core area where your group lives. This means your cat's instinctive reaction will be to attempt to flee indoors if anything outside startles her. If something prevents her from entering the house, her instinct will be to hide reasonably close at hand, rather than running away. Once the house is accepted as home, a normal adult cat will cautiously explore the surrounding area and won't get lost. A cat who is released before the house is seen as home, will tend to wander seeking familiar surroundings and will get lost (or return to their previous home).

This is why "indoor only" cats who accidentally get out can usually be retrieved without too much trouble (because they hide close by) and why cats who escape during holidays or trips to the vet really are lost.

Bit of good news for a change

Delighted to hear that the Rabbit Residence has had its planning permission renewed for another year. Everyone who volunteers there will still need to be cautious to avoid noise, obstructing driveways etc. as permission might not be renewed in 2010 if the local residents can prove the rescue is causing a nuisance to them, but it's a great relief.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Improving our fund-raising in 2009

We urgently need to increase our fundraising. If we had not received a substantial legacy last year, we would have been in very serious trouble — and we cannot expect a similar windfall this year. 

Last year's legacy will see us through 2009, but we will then have to start cutting back our services unless we can scale up our fund-raising efforts.

If we can succeed in opening a shop in a busier part of Cambridge that will help, but we cannot hope to do this instantly, and it will take time for sales to build up, even if the general economic climate picks up.

One way in which we can make more money without any extra setting up costs is to increase the amount of textiles which we sell on for recycling. Prices per ton are now actually higher than they were this time last year, and the recyclers will take even worn or damaged clothes in order to recover their fibre content. 

If you live near to either of the shops (188 Mill Road, Cambridge or 156 High Street, Newmarket) and are thinking of clearing out your old clothes, please don't throw them out with the rubbish. 

Providing they are clean (so they're not unpleasant for our volunteers to sort), we can use almost all textiles, including curtains, sheets etc, but not duvets or carpet. 

Cash flow figures for 2008

Just finished the spreadsheet of the accounts for 2008. The final figures in the branch Annual Report will be a bit different because these are adjusted for money owed by us (e.g. invoices for work done during the year not sent until the following month) or to us (e.g. VAT rebates not yet received). However the "raw" cash flow figures give an impression of the financial situation:

Total income: £378,880
Total expenditure: £242,877

Of this, £66,549 was spent on running the animal clinic, £40,515 on veterinary treatments at private vets and £33,237 on boarding animals until they could be rehomed. £61,860 was the overheads of running our three shops (including rent, rates and staff wages). 

Shop profits suffered a drastic fall to just a tenth of the amount we made in 2007. Considering the terrible general state of retail sales, we may have been lucky not to have actually made a loss.

On encouraging people to get their pets neutered

This topic can become very heated, as some people feel the problem of homeless pets is so serious that we should simply refuse help with the cost of veterinary treatment to anyone who lets their animals breed. Others would like to see us offer universal free neutering; or campaign for legislation to enforce neutering; or refuse to work with any person or organisation involved with pet breeding. 

One possibility would be to follow the stance of the Dogs Trust scheme for dogs belonging to homeless people. This scheme does not pay for any costs associated with whelping or pregnancy and requires owners to get their pets neutered within a set length of time after registration for help with veterinary treatment. The trouble with this is that it's not an awful lot of help to the pet who's brought to us already in labour. In fact, like mandatory spay/neuter programs in other countries, it falls down because any sanctions for non-compliance are quite likely to hit the pet much harder than the owner. 

In practice, we do the best we can. We offer low-cost spay/neuter at our clinic and by voucher at private vets. We won't help with the cost of vaccinating litters of puppies which are clearly going to be sold on, as that's just increasing the potential profit per puppy and encouraging the owner to breed another litter. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

RSPCA Week 2009

Once again Tesco stores have kindly given us permission to collect outside their main stores during RSPCA week, which this year will run from 27th April to 3rd of May.

We need as many collectors as possible to get maximum benefit from this opportunity, and this year it will be particularly important because of the generally gloomy outlook for fund-raising.

In past years the public have been very generous—this is not one of those events where you go home thinking it would have been quicker and easier to stick a tenner in your own tin and go home to put your feet up. Even a few hours collecting typically raises a useful amount, and is all money we otherwise would not have had.

If you might be able to help, please email 

It would be helpful to know approximate numbers as soon as possible as we need to order tins, badges etc.

The map below shows approximate locations of the stores in our branch area.

View Larger Map

National Rabbit Week 24-30 January 2009

See the National Rabbit Week website for more information.