But Gary Barlow is one such black cat that remains 'on the shelf' despite being the most wonderful cat you could wish to meet. He is now officially our new cattery favourite after the sad passing of newbie Archie.
All week we've been swamped with calls from people about unwanted cats and kittens. It seems that masses of people are experiencing life-changing experiences that are resulting in their need to 'rehome' their pets and it means that the number of animals needing to be relinquished is at an all time high.
It's very hard, when you are on the receiving end of this bombardment of calls, to keep a perspective on the humanitarian side of things, to maintain and extend compassion toward people and their predicaments at all times. I think part of the reason for this is because of all the irresponsible pet owners who've allowed their animals to breed, repeatedly, and created the crisis of homeless animals. It in turn means that the people who are genuinely in desperate straits are unable to find help and quite rightly get angry and upset with the likes of me for seemingly failing them.
One call in particular struck me this week: a lady whose baby had been born very premature, and after weeks in hospital was allowed to come home providing all the animals in the home were rehoused (due to infection risk). Imagine being desperate to bring your child home and not being able to because no-one can offer you help. Ordinarily this would be a high priority admission for any shelter, but with absolutely nowhere to place another cat or kitten at our branch alone we could not help this poor woman, who'd been ringing around animal sanctuaries for days for help.
This really gets my goat because basically we wouldn't be in this horrendous state if everyone had their animals neutered. And getting cats neutered is not difficult, nor expensive and in fact many of us offer it for free. So why, why, are people not taking responsibility?
Last weekend was a great case in point. In just two days, Saturday and Sunday, 65 animals were collected locally by the RSPCA field staff and taken to the animal hospital for assessment. This is an enormous figure and an impossible amount to contend with. The majority were abandoned cats and kittens or injured strays. These are all preventable by getting your pets neutered and microchipped, oh and actually changing your details on the chip when you move house.
|Ellie, an injured stray found in Manchester chipped to an address in London, owner could not be traced.|
We not only lost Archie this week but a number of other furries too. It's so frustrating when you can't undo human harm, like with little Spud, a 12 week old kitten in an rtc and despite his foster mum's best efforts he just was too sickly to continue. What the hell was a 12 week kitten being let out for? He wasn't stray or feral, he was a well socialised, loving little guy whose suffered a needless death.
We also lost two hand-rears over the bank holiday weekend. Again, another prime example of an irresponsible owner for allowing their unneutered female outside, to get pregnant, and then abandoning the newborns rather than go to the trouble of getting their cat neutered. Not only does this action place mum at great risk of health complications, it also costs our charity a lot of time and money we don't have. Just take a look at the process that happens:
1. Member of the public calls the RSPCA 24/7 Helpline to report abandoned kittens (staffing costs to 'man' phone line)
2. Field Officer dispatched to collect kittens (staffing costs plus transportation costs)
3. Kittens taken to RSPCA Animal Hospital and are fed every two hours by nursing staff until a foster home can be found (staffing, hospital and food costs)
4. Foster carer takes on role of hand-rearing the kittens, feeding every two hours (food costs but also high emotional/physical costs)
I couldn't even begin to estimate how much that all comes to but it's a damn site more than the cost of a cat spay, which we will happily pay for! Despite my evident annoyance I am delighted to report that the remaining two are thriving, as can be seen by this video, but even more exciting is the development over the last couple of days that they are receiving additional care from a nursing mum called Cecilia.
|Despite her ordeal Cecilia has been consistently friendly, good natured and affectionate.|
Cecilia is another victim of irresponsible pet ownership. She was found in someone's shed with blood everywhere and dead, deformed kittens strewn across the floor and a kitten stuck in her birth canal. An RSPCA inspector collected her, took her to the animal hospital and upon admission she had an emergency cesarean and one kitten survived. Cecilia has been doing an incredible job of caring for her baby, Lana, and has accepted these two as her own too. Humans really could learn a lot from animals, if they took the time to look and listen.
On Monday morning my first job of the day is to load up my car with pet carriers and take away as many cats as I can fit in. Things are bad. Things are really bad. I feel thoroughly miserable about it all because there seems no end in sight to the worse Summer I have ever experienced for cat and kitten abandonment.