Monday, 26 October 2015

Behind the Scenes: Update

 You may remember our Behind the Scenes Feature this Summer that put a spotlight on some of the animals that have been with us a while. Their long stay was either due to being overlooked or having additional support needs to help them to recover from illness, injury or disease. We thought our supporters would like to know what happened to everyone, but I warn you now, it isn’t all happy ever afters.

Zula is probably the most inevitable outcome of all. Yes, you guessed it, her foster mum (one of just two animal staff we employ at the branch) adopted her. In her heart Michelle knew from day one that Zula was never going to leave. This young lady had had it rough and was so traumatised and so the chances of a home ever coming forward was slim, if not zero. In Michelle’s care Zula has blossomed so much that after 5 months of being in her foster care Zula was finally confident enough to go out to play. Although her first trip out resulted in a day-long absence, much to everyone’s relief she came back for her tea! This is a very happy outcome, but maybe not for Michelle’s bank balance!

Zula who was rehomed by one of our animal staff

Herman had endured equal trauma after being dumped outdoors on the hottest day of the year in a pet carrier. He was soaked to the skin in his own urine and genuinely petrified. In his first foster home he received supportive care whilst undergoing vet treatment. Once this was complete he moved into a foster home with a single lad, so he could develop a strong attachment and learn to trust humans. The pair of them bonded so strongly that when the foster mum’s rented property was sold with little warning she was devastated to have to give Herman up. From here Herman went into his third foster home, and all the hard work of his previous foster mum’s came to fruition and he absolutely blossomed.

Herman was adopted by his foster mum

Alas a forever home remained elusive and by this time Herman had been with us 15 weeks. But one day I got a text from his second foster mum to say she had found pet-friendly rented accommodation and could she adopt Herman. The elation this caused us all is indescribable and two later I took great pleasure in delivering him to his new home. Within hour of arrival Herman was snuggled up on the sofa with his mum. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Randall’s update is not one that we can dwell on for too long because of the upset it still elicits in us all. Out of all the hundreds of animals we have helped this year he will be the one we will remember the most from 2015. Randall was an amazing animal. He stole our hearts and gave us so much joy and happiness but unfortunately his multiple health conditions deteriorated. We consulted with a specialist in the hope of finding some way forward, but this was soon shattered. We were advised to let him go. Many tears were shed. We lost this fight but his memory will live on in our hearts.

Sadly it wasn't a happy ending for our lovely Randall

Mara you may remember is our longest stay animal. She’s been with us 1 year and 3 months. Mara is such an odd bod, but hardly her fault given her parentage (one half domestic rabbit and one half wild rabbit). But finally we have some hope for her. She has the offer a wonderful outdoor life with a husbun in the Peak District. The tricky bit is to see if the two bunnies can get along. She’ll be leaving us shortly for a 6 week trial, so please keep everything crossed.

Mara will be leaving for bonding with a potential bunny boyfriend!

Of course I have left the best until last – Stanley. He found a home despite his terrible injuries and this is what his new family have to say about him:

Stanley was adopted!

“We are so keen to tell you how our lovely cat Stanley is getting on. When we read about Stanley on your blog, we were sure he was the cat for us. Our 9 year old son was so taken with him having met him that we couldn't wait to pick him up.

Stanley became one of the family very quickly. He is very chatty and will meow not only for food, but also when he would like some cuddles. If you pick him up he will place his paws either side of your neck and purr very very loudly. He does like his food, and if he could he would investigate a wide range of cuisines from curry to jelly. So we have had to be a bit careful about his table manners.

Stanley wearing this seasons must have scarf!

He was very keen to explore outside and he loves to have fun in the garden. He can watch the activity in the pond for hours and he loves to investigate the undergrowth. In the evening he will go for a little prowl and then pop back in for a cuddle on the sofa. When we return home he is often looking out of the window and then as we open the front door he will rush to greet us with a friendly meow.

He is a wonderful part of our family. Happy, joyful and very loving. When anyone meets him they say how friendliness and remark on what a handsome chap he is. We couldn't be happier that he has joined our family.”

Stanley exploring his new territory!

Thank you to everyone who supports us, in every which way that you do. From donating cat food, sending us funny pictures, adopting an animal or simply saying well done, it really means an awful lot to us. Some weeks are dire and some weeks are filled with joy, but with you by our side we can keep up the good fight.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A week in the life of an RSPCA pet carrier

Hello! My name is ‘Carrie’ and I am one of the team of pet carriers that the RSPCA Manchester & Salford branch employs in the course of their work rehoming and rehabilitating rescued animals. I’ve been asked to keep a diary of a typical week in my life to give you an idea of the sort of thing I get up to, so here goes!


My first job of the day is to transport kittens Billy and Fitz from their foster home in Whalley Range to the branch’s cattery (most people don't realise we don't have an animal centre of our own so have to rent spaces in a private cattery). These kittens have been in foster care for quite a while as they have sensitive stomachs and it’s taken some time to get them on the right diet. One of their foster family is heading back to university after the summer, so they aren't able to provide the daytime care the kittens need any more, so the boys will be rehomed from the cattery.

Billy & Fitz safely dropped off at the cattery!

In the afternoon I am taken to where the rabbits are boarded and transport baby bunnies Mildred and Miller for a trip to the vets for a health check and their vaccinations. Mildred and Miller came into the branch a week ago and once they’ve had the all clear from the vets they will be available for adoption.

I then return the rabbits back to where they are boarded, which is a half hour journey from the vets that the we use for rabbits. This is because they are an “exotic” vet. (Rabbits might not seem all that exotic to you, but in veterinary terms rabbits are a specialist species). All in all this job takes around 90 minutes to complete!


I start today at the cattery transporting new kittens Dolly and Kenny to the vet so they can have a general health check, vaccinations and be microchipped. This pair of kittens has been in a National RSPCA inspector’s house for a month, but prior to that lived as “feral” cats. They are a lively pair who are still getting used to regular, human contact, but they were very well behaved whilst I carried them and at the vets.

Dolly & Kenny en route to the vet

I then went off on a road trip in the back of the van to collect 6 young rabbits that have recently been rescued from poor conditions where breeding had got seriously out of control. We meet up with a National RSPCA inspector from Sheffield in Tintwistle, which is at the edge of the Peak District. When we have space we take animals from our inspector friends in South Yorkshire; we always meet there because it is half way between us both. I take two of the rabbits and the rest are put in other carriers and then we head off to the rabbit boarding place.

Rabbits collected from a National RSPCA inspector

On arrival at the rabbit boarding place it becomes clear that the rabbits aren’t in good shape – all are bloated as a result of having been fed a poor diets and two of the young rabbits need to be whisked off to the vets immediately. One has fly strike and the other looks extremely bloated. So off we go again to the vets and they are admitted overnight. Phew! 


It’s a morning of vet trips for the cats, so I travel back and forth between the cattery and the vets (which is about a 20 minutes journey if it isn’t rush hour!). Firstly, Veronica and Reggie go for their 2nd vaccination. This young pair of siblings were from a home where breeding was out of control and have been in the care of the branch for 3 weeks. Happily they’ve already been neutered, microchipped and are reserved and go to a new home at the weekend!

Next up I transport new arrival Cooper for a check over at the vets and to get him microchipped and vaccinated. Cooper’s owner was unable to keep him after the breakdown of a relationship and loss of their home. Cooper is much fancier than most of the cats I carry and he didn’t seem too impressed with the sing-a-long version of T’Pau’s China in Your Hand we were “treated” to on the way back from the vets.

Cooper on his way to the vet for chip and vaccination


Thursday often seems to be the busiest day of the week and today was no exception. My first job of the day was to head to a foster home to collect cats Po and Pamela and drop them off at the vets. They are staying in for the day to be neutered and microchipped.

Po & Pamela

At the vets we meet a colleague who has just collected 2 baby guinea pigs (roughly 8 weeks) that were abandoned in a cardboard box by the side of the road. After being given a clean bill of health by the exotic vet I take the guinea pigs to their new accommodation in private boarding and get them settled in with plenty of hay and water. The male ginger pig is named Bill, and the white female, before she even has time to be named, finds a new home with one of the branch's volunteers. She's a very lucky girl and will have lots of new piggy friends to live with!

Box in which the 2 baby piggies were abandoned

Piggies abandoned on the way to the vet

Baby pig Bill getting his check up

In the afternoon I transport Dahla the kitten from her foster home to go to the vets to complete her primary course of vaccinations. She had a full health check whilst we were there and she got the all clear and will now be made available for adoption along with her brother Milo, who she was reunited with back at her foster home.

Dahla on her way back to foster care

My last job of the day was to collect Po and Pamela from the vets after their neutering procedure and returned them back to their foster home. They were very relieved to be back and none too impressed with their buster collars.


First thing I transport Patsy the kitten to the vet for her vaccination and a check over. Patsy is a nervous girl and we’ve found a perfect foster home where she will get more used to being with people and will have the good influence of a few very friendly cats. So after her vet trip I took her to her new foster family in Salford.

Gaynor when she first arrived in our care
In the afternoon a call is received from the rabbit boarding to say that a baby bunny Gaynor is quiet and lethargic. In bunny terms this is classed as an emergency condition, so I get rush off to go and collect her. I safely deliver Gaynor to the vets and she is admitted for the weekend.

Sadly Gaynor’s condition worsened and she was becoming increasingly unwell. The decision was made to put Gaynor to sleep on Sunday. An autopsy revealed she had a blockage in her gut that had begun to rupture. This is a very sad end to my working week and I’m grateful for the care she was given.

Saturday & Sunday

At the weekend I get to enjoy a bit of R&R before it starts all over again on Monday. Me and my fellow carriers (the branch employs about 12 of us) like to keep in shape for all the heavy lifting we do, so we might do a bit of weight training and enjoy a good scrub. Occasionally we have to jump into action if an emergency occurs, but thankfully this weekend we all got to relax and rest.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Behind the Scenes Series: Zula the cat

Every so often we get a cat in our care who you just wish you could communicate with and say that everything is going to be alright. Sadly we can’t and so we have to spend months slowly building up trust between the cat and carer until we finally reach a point where there is potential to find the cat a new home. Zula is one of these special cases. 

Zula with one of her kittens

She was brought to the attention of the RSPCA inspectors back in May by Social Services who were concerned that her owner wasn’t capable of caring for her and her 4 new born kittens. Zula and her kittens were taken to the RSPCA animal hospital for a check over but she was so traumatised by the move that the staff were struggling to examine her. By chance one of our team was at the clinic and saw how distressing Zula was finding the hectic environment of the hospital and, falling for her big sad eyes, managed to find a space for her in foster care, where Zula has now been since the 20th May 2015.

One of Zula's kittens (Zula in the background)

Zula spent a lot of time hiding when she first arrived in foster care. Her favourite hiding place was wedged behind a giant plant pot. Had she not been a devoted mum to her kittens we probably wouldn't have seen Zula for weeks, but she had to come out to feed her babies and to eat. Meal times were definitely key to making friends with Zula - a human with a pouch of food in their hands is infinitely less scary. Zula would let you give her a head rub if she was about to get fed, so we knew she had it in her to be a loving cat, she just needed a bit time to settle and practice.

Always the devoted mum!

Whether it is from lack of handling in the past, or a bad experience, Zula is very nervous of being picked up and dreads being placed in a carrier. Her extreme reaction has made moving Zula a very stressful experience both for her and whoever is handling her. She is so fearful that she has soiled herself on every occasion she's been in a cat carrier. Because of this we made the unusual decision not to separate her from her kittens when they were weaned, so she didn't need to be moved again.

She has grown in confidence in foster care and doesn't hide so often, really enjoys a good bum scratch and has shown quite a playful side to her character. But if anyone new enters the house she will immediately make herself scarce and retreat under a bed. She's also easily spooked by sudden movements and noises, and if you touch her in a way she doesn't like she will become alarmed. You definitely can't lift her - she is very keen on having all 4 paws on the ground. Hopefully, once all her kittens are rehomed we'll see further improvement in Zula's confidence.

Zula finally learning to relax after several months

Cats like Zula don't cost us a lot of money in medical care, as her wounds are psychological rather than physical. As well as wanting to tell her everything is ok, we wish she could tell us exactly what it is that is distressing to her. It's just time that she needs, to learn to relax and to trust her human friends.

There are also many other ways you can help our animals!

1. Make a donation or set up a regular Direct Debit - any amount would make a huge difference to our animals lives.You can TEXT MCRS01 £1/2/3/4/5 or £10 to 70070

2. Fundraise for us! We always have an event or two planned... For example, in September we have an abseil down the Trafford Centre and in October our 'Big Walkies' sponsored dog walk. Why not get involved and raise money for our animals at the same time?!

3. Donate your unwanted clothing, jewellery or bric to our charity shops! Our charity shops are located in Chorlton, Didsbury and the Northern Quarter, city centre and help to fund our work. We can turn your donations into funds to care for our animals. We are also always on the look out for volunteers to help in our shops so if you are interested just get in touch!

4.  Adopt one of our amazing animals! We always have many cats, rabbits and guinea pigs for adoption. If you are looking for a new best friend look no further!
5. Foster a feline! At the moment we are in need of more foster carers for cats, kittens and nursing queens. If you live in the South Manchester or Salford area and think you could help please contact us on 0161 882 0680 option 4.