Monday, 26 September 2011


Cleopatra came home from the vets last Thursday afternoon, seemingly over the worst of the gut stasis. She perked up once back in her familiar environs and seemed to be doing well until yesterday afternoon.

Cleopatra had been with us since the 7th October last year. I remember the day she came into our care so well because we had travelled all the way to North Yorkshire to collect her. We had gone with the intention of collecting 20 rabbits and guinea pigs from a very large multiple animal case and came back with 27 instead. They were all what we call 'case animals'; having been seized from the owner for neglect with a view to prosecution.

There were a total of 433 animals removed from the one home; Cleopatra being one. She was a standard Rex of show quality, we know this because we had a ring removed from her leg. What I know even more was what a wonderful rabbit she was - elegant, intelligent and able to run rings round anyone.

When the case was eventually concluded we were able to place her up for adoption. She had lots of interest in her but what followed was a number of failed bonding attempts, seemingly she was too used to having been kept in solitary confinement and perhaps scarred from being used (and abused) for breeding.

Cleopatra settled in really well to 'our place' and was genuinely a happy rabbit who had almost everything a forever home could give her. She ate for Britain and did golf-ball sized poops (they were so large that they really caught our attention!) and so when she eased up on her eating last week we knew she wasn't well in an instant.

Today, we took her back to the vets. She had lost more than 10% of her body weight in just a matter of days. Upon examination a mass in her abdomen was found; most likely a tumour. The only decision was taken.

I opted out of being with her whilst they put her to sleep. Selfish, I know, but I just couldn't face it. My sadness for her imminent loss was just too much for me to cope with. I gave her hugs and kisses goodbye but just couldn't stay with her. (To be honest, she wasn't in a good way so I don't think it would've made much difference to her.)

I loved that rabbit and so did many others of us at the branch. But, I am at peace with her passing because I know we gave her a life worth living. I just feel terribly sad by her loss.

It is for her and all the other rabbits that are kept in inferior conditions in homes up and down this country that we will continue to champion the highest rabbit welfare standards that we can. We don't have them for no reason, so please, I urge you to ask yourself - does your rabbit have a life worth living? Can it travel up to 5 miles a day should s/he choose? If not, please take a moment to learn more about a rabbit's needs.

(Thank you to Darlington and Durham RSPCA branches for all their support.)