Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tuesday off to new foster home this evening

Katie's back from her holiday, so she came round to collect Tuesday this evening. Tuesday was a little star, walking into her carrier like a seasoned traveller. The same could not be said of Merlin who howled: "OTHER KITTY BEING FED!" in the background the whole time, while my own Coco who has a bit of a nervous tum at the best of times, decided to mark the occasion by using the litter tray. Madly squirting lavender odour eliminator before answering the door didn't entirely help and poor Katie and her sister must almost have been knocked off their feet by the composite wave of "fragrances".

All I need is a good supply of filmy scarves to complete the "mad cat lady" effect.

There are good reasons why RSPCA HQ encourage branch volunteers to avoid taking on too many animals at once.

Beautiful photo of Tuesday in today's Cambridge Evening News which may help to trace her owners.

Tuesday and Merlin

The veterinary hospital that provides our veterinary services needed to free up the cage being occupied by Tuesday (another cat with pelvic fractures), so I now have two cat pens in what I laughably call my spare bedroom. 

I think it's still possible that Tuesday's original owner may turn up as she was wearing a collar when found, and she's very friendly. The vets think her fractures will heal without surgery provided she's kept on strict cage rest for at least 6 weeks (re-do the x-ray after 4 weeks to check on progress).

Merlin is all black and has a broken foreleg which has been fitted with an external fixator to keep the broken bones aligned until the ends knit together. He's quite timid and hadn't been neutered when he was brought in (the vets did the op. at the same time as they set his leg), so had probably been living rough for some time.

I was a bit concerned that having the two pens close together would agitate both of them and risk them damaging themselves, but so far all is peaceful and the shocking sight of Tuesday getting food and fuss before him seems to be bringing Merlin out of his shell.

Fortunately some of our other holidaying fosterers are due back later this week, so it will be a bit easier to cope if we get any more incoming cats this weekend. However we could still use more foster homes: if you might be interested in this, or if you would like to adopt a cat or dog, please email

Mob justice?

Why is it that the very unpleasant, but non-fatal "cat binning" incident has drawn such an enormous amount of publicity (1,230 news items reported in Google) in comparison with the much worse cruelty to more than 100 animals in Somerset (44 news items),  the awful drowning of a couple's pet terrier by unknown thieves in Lancashire (2 items) and the almost unbelievable callousness of the person who threw an English Bull terrier bitch into a river while she was actually in the process of giving birth (3 items)?

If even a small percentage of those expressing outrage about the wheelie bin incident took some practical action for the welfare of animals it would do a lot more good overall.

Kudos to the anonymous member of the public and the police dog handler who saved the Bull terrier's life at some risk to themselves.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More and more cats!

More and more requests coming in for us to take unwanted cats, as well as incoming injured strays. If you might be interested in fostering for the branch, please email

Most of the animals we place in foster accommodation are cats recuperating from injuries, kittens or puppies who need to be in a domestic environment for correct social development, or dogs who we think would benefit from training and assessment under home conditions.

Most of the adult cats need cage rest in order to facilitate healing of various injuries, so this might be a suitable option for someone who would like to have cats but cannot give them the run of the house.
This pic. gives some idea of the kind of pen we use for cage-resting injured cats
If a cat is having cage rest on veterinary instructions it is very important that the fosterer can resist the temptation to let  him/her out, because running or jumping may prevent a broken bone from healing, or even mean that it has to be operated on a second time to re-set it.

Monday, August 23, 2010


RSPCA Manchester and Salford says almost exactly the same thing as my previous blog entry but from a different perspective:
"Each time I have to say 'no' to someone who has exhausted all options the guilt weighs heavy on my mind. The situation could be an unwanted pet, a stray cat, a stray cat having given birth outdoors, someone who can't pay a vet bill, someone who wants a lift to the vets, someone who wants me to collect an animal - the list is just exhaustive. Few understand that the resources of most animal charities are extremely limited. My role at the branch is complex but I'm basically the manager and I have a member of staff who oversees the care of the animals and a pt staff member who does the day-to-day care. That's it.
What we can achieve rarely feels even remotely adequate enough and it's only at times like learning how an adopted animal is doing in their new home that you feel there is some sense of purpose to your role.
No one goes into animal rescue & rehoming to turn animals in need away, to say 'no' to desperate pleas of help or to have to put animals to sleep is not what any of us want to be doing. But what most people do expect is for animal charities like the RSPCA (whether locally or nationally) to have the answers to everything and help every single animal in need."
I think "exhaustive" is a freudian slip on her part. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why don't people come to meetings?

RSPCA Clwyd and Colwyn wonders why it's so difficult to get branch members to attend their AGM or other meetings. It seems to me that it's the same underlying set of problems that make RSPCA week less successful than it might be, and which I blogged about last year.
  1. Individuals may genuinely believe the RSPCA doesn't have a pressing need for their support because we have enormous numbers of other members.
  2. Most branch committees are run by very few, over-worked individuals. This means the people organising anything are generally also trying to do other things. Volunteers and new members may get the impression that things are disorganised and badly-run, and they may feel unappreciated if we don't answer calls immediately or if they want to do specific things (like walking dogs) and we want them to do different (and more boring) things (like fundraising or taking part in business meetings).
  3. There's a knock-on effect from (2) when people who think we're inefficient actually do volunteer to join in and are very enthusiastic but want to start changing things immediately. Because we're already operating very close to the edge of not coping, what we need is people who are willing to help with existing jobs, not make more work, even if their intentions are good.
  4. There seems to be a fatal tendency for people who are really keen on helping animals to set up new groups rather than supporting existing ones, particularly if the local RSPCA isn't doing something that they think it ought to be.
  5. And, partly as a knock-on effect from (4), there seems to be a general disenchantment with the kind of local democracy that the RSPCA embodies, which depends on groups of people working together with set rules and majority decisions. In many ways there's a frustrating sense that internally we've won all the battles that are being waged by activists in Australia and the US but we just can't recruit the ongoing practical support we need to keep up the momentum and eventually we're simply going to run ourselves into the ground. It's interesting to contrast the 2010 no-kill conference with the ICAWC conference organised by the Dogs Trust, or with the RSPCA's  Animal Welfare Conferences for members. The viewpoint of the no-kill conference is very much of activists looking in whereas we're inside running the services and trying to keep afloat. Inevitably we spend an awful lot of time worrying about finances, simply because we're on a treadmill of recurring bills (kenneling, vets, rates, rent...) and the need to keep generating income to pay them.