We've delayed our quarterly newsletter so it coincides with our AGM invitations. It means we are able to give you an overview of our work for the first four months of the year so you can learn more about what we have been up to.
Perhaps the most pleasing news of all is that our admission and rehoming figures are up on 2013. This is quite remarkable news to us because we have had three cattery closures so far this year due to cat flu, have admitted more rabbits than ever before and have admitted so many dogs that have experienced such terrible neglect and abuse that they have required rehabilitation before they could be rehomed.
We've admitted 157 animals (122 in 2013) and rehomed 118 (110 in 2014). Alas, we are now coping with unprecedented numbers of nursing queens and kittens at such an earlier time than usual into the kitten season. We fear Summer is going to be a long and hard slog and with fewer offers of homes we worry about the future of all homeless and abused animals. Thanks to your support for the work that we do we will keep soldiering on and keep our fingers crossed for a lottery win!
Facing up to the Cat Crisis
We are a nation of cat lovers. In our fast-paced, globalized world, cats and their semi-independent lifestyle increasingly fit our habits and sensibilities. And yet the UK is reaching a crisis point of rescue cat population, which may not be apparent to the general public, but the facts and figures are nothing short of startling. The cat population of the UK is estimated to be as high as 11.6 million, with close to 32,000 currently housed in RSPCA rescues - a figure which is only increasing. Rescues are so full that many branches of the RSPCA are resorting to using private boarding establishments. What was once known as 'kitten season' has swelled from a couple of months to a full half-year and more. The national RSPCA has produced a report on the matter and states just one simple answer: neutering.
Understandably, neutering can be a touchy subject. The procedure itself is not particularly invasive or risky for either sex, and has proven health and social benefits. Castration in males helps to reduce the spread of FIV (the cat equivalent of HIV) and a neutered cat is less likely to stray.
And yet many cat owners feel anxious about putting their beloved moggy under the knife. Furthermore, many owners of female cats believe in the widely-held myth that the queen is entitled to have at least one litter before being spayed - that, effectively, she should be given one opportunity to be a mother. This may seem nice in principle, but in reality many owners are not prepared nor capable of looking after, weaning, and rehoming a whole litter of kittens. It is a stressful and messy experience, for both felines and humans alike, and all too often leads to abandonment and neglect. So, before this crisis can be properly tackled, these attitudes of the cat-loving public need to be addressed and, ultimately, minds need to be changed.
Fenella's story is a typical one. Abandoned with her four kittens, Fenella had puncture wounds all around her tail where she had been attacked by another animal. She and her kittens were rescued and passed onto the branch and then to one of our foster carers. Sadly, one kitten didn't last beyond his fifth day, but the others survived and are now thriving. We can only speculate about where Fenella and her kittens came from, but perhaps she was one of these cats due for neutering after her 'one litter', before that litter became too much to handle and she was cast out to fend for herself. Fenella was lucky that we had a space available with our fabulous foster carer, but if we had been full we would, out of necessity, have had to turn her and her kittens away.
We work hard at our welfare events and online to emphasise the extent of the problem and the importance of neutering. We have a limited number of cat neutering vouchers available to those who need most financial help, and we strive to promote other neutering schemes in the area offered by other charities. But there is only so far our voices can reach. What is desperately needed now is an attitude change in our society. The British public need to recognise and acknowledge that the only sure-fire way of reducing the abandoned cat population is to cut out the hesitation associated with neutering. A startling 85% of litters are unplanned. It is time to take responsibility for our accidents and give cats a fighting chance.
We are delighted and honoured to congratulate two of our amazing volunteers who picked up awards this month for their fantastic charity work.
Dog-walker Lucy Swinton (pictured) was awarded first place in the University of Manchester Staff Volunteer of the Year Awards 2014 for her work with children in Romania. Our volunteer extraordinaire Hannah Brookfield (pictured) was Highly Commended in the same category, and - on the same day - was a finalist in the annual Petplan Animal Charity Volunteer of the Year Awards 2014 in Birmingham.
Both Lucy and Hannah work tirelessly and selflessly to make the world a far better place, and we cannot thank them enough for everything they do for the branch.
Following hot on the heels of last year's charity zipslide our next big event has been set. On the 4th October 2014, the hardiest (some might say, most foolish) of our amazing fundraisers will be taking off shoes and shoes and walking barefoot over hot coals and broken glass.
We love to set a challenge here at the Manchester & Salford Branch. Two years ago we sent our thrill-seekers down the tallest lighthouse in the UK. we followed that with last year's zipslide - which raised an astonishing 8K for our animals - and now we have this: the ultimate test of elemental fears! But our thrill-seekers love it too and places on the Fire & Ice Walk are already filling up. Do you fancy stepping up to the challenge? Book your place by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org!