Tuesday, 18 April 2017

News Round-Up: Spring 2017 Issue 5

9 years of Rabbit Rehoming 

We did it folks, we made it through another grey and rainy Manchester winter and whilst our charity shops busily swap the heavy coats and woolly scarves for bright, cotton t-shirts we are preparing to celebrate our 9th year rehabilitating and rehoming rabbits! Watch our video in celebration of all things bunny-shaped!

Rabbits are our favourite hairy herbivores and most of you will know that at this branch we take rabbit welfare very seriously.

Alice & Bea were left to starve
A hutch is not nearly enough for these energetic and intelligent creatures and companionship with their own kind is often vital. Despite spending the past 9 years educating adopters in the North West on the merits of good rabbit welfare we are still inundated with the little critters. I’ve lost track of the amount of times Susie, the charity's manager, has promised not to admit another bunny until our numbers drop and then cave in as an Inspector shows her a photo of a large breed bunny in a tiny hutch with nothing but bread for food. But that’s why we are here after all, to help those who have not experienced a good start in life.  You can help us help more rabbits in need by texting BUNS09 £1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or £10 to 70070 today!

Recent fav! Pocket-rocket Bruce Lee

Thankfully the never ending calls from inspectors to admit animals have been offset by our remarkable rehoming figures for this quarter. We have already found forever homes for 129 animals in 2017 which is unheard of as January, February and March are normally the quiet time when we gather together our aims and ideas for the year ahead, but no such luck. Last year I selfishly despaired when we failed to hit the 500 mark when really, for such a small branch without its own animal centre, 498 animals rehomed is well worth celebrating (I could have fit another 2 in somewhere at home, I’m sure!) but it looks like we are well on target this year to achieve another record breaking year. 

So far the main themes running through the year have been special case animals and large scale rabbit rescues. The main star of our blog has been Sausage, a young cat found with a nasty infection and broken tail. On closer examination she was found to have a metal plate in her pelvis, so was obviously as well loved companion at some point. Without a traceable owner we ended up having to amputate her tail and find her a new home which I am very happy to say we did in March after 9 weeks rehabilitation. 

Sausage relaxing in foster care, her mysterious pelvis below!

Just this week alone we have been asked to help with three large scale rabbit rescues, ranging from 40 to 80 rabbits in each single property. It is massive undertaking which one branch cannot cope with alone so all the branches from the surrounding areas just have to take what they can. The upside of these cases is a constant stream of cuteness for us as there will always be one mummy bunny having just given birth; we have a litter in at the moment that are 4 weeks old who are just the perfect size for snuggling! 
Deb and Susie having cuddles in between health checks!

So as we enter Spring we have given up on the notion of ever having a quiet month to regroup and are just marching on instead with broken conversations as we pass each other in the vets and post-it notes stuck on keyboards, we’ll get the summer fundraising events organised eventually! For now keep an eye on our website for our blog updates and be sure to tell anyone considering getting a companion rabbit where to find us!

Talking shop

News from the shops from Didsbury shop manager Tom. 

Despite torrents of rain, gale-force winds and the odd dusting of snow, 2017 is off to a great start at all of the branch’s 4 shops thanks to the continued support of our customers and donors. I’m always moved to see brave, determined people fighting against the elements as they burst through the door with ‘bags for life’ full of goodies in their hands and we always make sure to give them a hero’s welcome. Good news is that Spring is here and the weather is finally getting warmer!

Sunny days are always the most profitable so it’s vital we make the most of every single one we get. If you’ve started your spring clear out, we’d be incredibly grateful for some more summery dresses, tops and t-shirts. They absolutely fly off the rails when the climate is right so we really never can have enough.

Kitten season is just around the corner now, so if you’re not able to donate items we are still in desperate need of pouches of wet kitten and cat food (Whiskas and Felix preferred). You are more than welcome to drop it into any of the shops for us to pass on, and of course you can always double your contribution by buying a few things while you’re here if you fancy treating yourself.


I can’t finish without telling you about a rare book that we had donated that is currently up for auction on Ebay. It is a rare limited edition book called Wyman Shoots Chagall by Bill Wyman. It is edition number 19 of 50 and includes a signed and numbered photo of the artist Chagall and his wife! The donor was aware of its potential value and has so generously given us this and many other amazing books to raise money for the animals.

The branch has 4 charity shops in Urmston, Didsbury, Chorlton and Northern Quarter and always need good quality donations of clothing, books, bric a brac and small items of furniture. See locations and opening hours here!

Run the Gauntlet!

Dare you join team RSPCA Manchester Animals on Saturday 16th September 2017 at Heaton Park and help raise money for the charity at the epic Gauntlet Games?

We know there are a number of you out there who enjoy adventure races and getting deep down and dirty in the process and what could be more exciting than taking on 15 obstacles and real life Gladiators on a 5 or 10k course? Gauntlet Games really is more about fun than finishing times and offers a unique team experience to enjoy whilst at the same time helping to save animals’ lives.

We are seeking 10 animal loving people with a competitive spirit and fundraising prowess to join team RSPCA Manchester Animals at the Games. Team members run for free if you raise a minimum of £125 in sponsorship money. So why not sign up with a friend and have double the fun and take double the satisfaction in having helped so many animals too!

To enquire further about the opportunity email Susie at rspcamcr_salford@btconnect.com. Hurry, places are filling fast for the event on Saturday 16th September.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Can you help our special boy, Franklin?

Let us introduce you to Franklin, a five year old tabby boy with a heart of gold. Franklin’s story is full of highs and lows and plenty of frustration, and is one that could have been completely avoided for the sake of around £1.50. Trigger warning: graphic images will follow....

Franklin in his 'cone of shame' after one of his several operations to fix his wound
Elasticated cat collars are dangerous and cats can easily get snagged, trapped, and end up with a front leg trapped inside them after trying to free themselves. This is exactly what happened to our boy Franklin. Safer snap-release collars are usually double the price at around £3 and cat owners will often choose the cheaper option without knowing the horrible risks involved.

Franklin came into our care three months ago with a terrible injury as a result of one of these lethal elasticated collars. Mostly likely, Franklin got his collar caught on something, then pawed at his collar to try and free himself and in the process got his leg stuck through it instead. The collar was then tightly lassoed around his neck and armpit and as time wore on the collar began to dig in to his skin and create a deep tear. Twelve weeks on and the wound looks as painful as ever and our vet bills are continuing to rocket.

At the vets, again! Thankfully, he enjoys the extra fusses!
Since he was discovered back in January with his collar embedded under his armpit Franklin has received five operations in an attempt to rejoin the skin and heal the gaping hole which has formed. He has undergone pioneering surgery involving a complicated skin graft, but as the skin in this area is so delicate, and cats aren’t the easiest animals to keep still even on cage rest (and in a head-cone) all attempts so far have failed. 

Thankfully Franklin’s wonderful nature and amazing resilience has kept us all going. There have been plenty of times when we’ve asked ourselves if we doing the right thing for Franklin, but each time his sweet little meow and soppy, loving face comes nuzzling next to ours and we are compelled to keep trying to save him.

Another attempt to re-stitch the wound was unsuccessful
After the final attempt at re-stitching the hole failed at the end of March we sombrely took him back to the vets. Not knowing if there was anything left to try we thought it might be time to give up for his sake but our excellent vet had one last suggestion: leg amputation. Amputating what seemed to be a fully-functioning limb was a big decision but as the vet explained, the limb had a long open wound on it that would likely never heal. So we booked him in for the op. It seemed quite drastic but if it would save Franklin’s life we were willing to give it a go.

The wound was continually opening up because there was very little skin to work with and Franklin was pulling on it every time he stretched out, went to the toilet or just stood up. By amputating the leg more skin would be available to close the wound and Franklin wouldn’t be able to put pressure on the wound as he’d have no leg to pull at the armpit.

The wound was in such a difficult place that each operation although seemingly successful would fail as the wound opened up again despite the amazing efforts of our vets.

Now we are just keeping everything crossed that the surgery goes well and our lad makes a speedy recovery. Not having to be on cage rest will be an absolute delight for Franklin as he loves snuggling up in bed with us. We are hoping that this will be Franklin’s final operation and then we can start working towards getting him ready for adoption.

By the time Franklin is 'fixed' his veterinary costs will have escalated to a total of £1,500. These are funds we simply do not have with such intense demand on our small, self-funded charity. We are desperately appealing for donations to cover the cost of his leg amputation and post-op care which amounts to roughly £500. We are asking all our followers to donate just £1.50 so we can carry on helping Franklin and many other animals like him. To donate, just click here!

Alternatively, you can text FRAN17 £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070

Thank you for your support from all the M&S Team and, of course, from Franklin.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Broken bones and bald bellies: fixing the cats most in need

Animal Supervisor Deborah Beats takes us behind the scenes at the branch!

Deborah & Jacky
Keen followers of our work may be forgiven in thinking that we’ve had a quiet start to 2017. The website has been a little barren at times, appearing like there have been few animals in our care, but behind the scenes it’s fair to say we’ve been close to melt down on more occasions than we care to count. So if we were caring for so many animals at our branch why doesn’t our website reflect this I hear you ask? Well as Winter time sees a drop in kittens and pregnant queens we have the time and resources to focus on those animals that need extra TLC and veterinary intervention. 

The RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital (run by the National RSPCA) has been undertaking some amazing rehabilitation work with animals rescued by National RSPCA inspectors of late (the ones you see on TV!). Once healthy enough to be discharged we’ve been offering our care skills to take in animals that are still a fair way off being ready for adoption. These animals need regular medication, frequent vet trips and of course carry extra costs with their rehabilitation too. In our last blog we introduced you to our special little Sausage. After 5 weeks she is now fully recovered from her infection and tail amputation and is finally listed on our ‘cats for adoption’ page. Sausage is a typical example of the kind of animals we are aiming to help before the kitten season renders most animal charities (avoidably) hand-tied for months on end.

In this blog I’d like to introduce you to a few of our current residents who are going nowhere fast but are receiving 5 star treatment behind the scenes thanks to our magnificent volunteer foster carers and veterinary care. 

Kip's nasty paw injury on arrival
Kip's paw looking so much better!
Kip has had a relatively quick turnaround compared to some of our other cases with his rehabilitation lasting just 3 weeks. However, 5 vet trips in that short space of time he’s certainly been making use of our staff! Kip was rescued by the National RSPCA after being found straying with an injury on his front left paw. Basically he had two nasty puncture wounds on his pad and one toe had been completely degloved. His paw looked like it had been through a meat mangler, as you can see from the picture! 

Kip arrived at the RSPCA animal hospital on the 26th January and after receiving treatment he was transferred to our branch on the 2nd February. Kip was discharged with a nice green bandage going all the way up his leg and a care plan in place for him which involved antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and Manuka honey for the wound. What complicated matters slightly was his determination to get the bandage off, which soon resulted in him wearing the cone of shame and an extra vet trip. Three weeks on and you’d barely notice that Kip’s paw had anything wrong with it. Thanks to his diligent foster mum and a fantastic group of veterinary staff he now just has a hard little lump at the end of his toe which will probably always remain there: certainly a far cry from his bloody paw, which could have resulted in a whole leg amputation if left untreated had infection set in. Not surprisingly, after spending so much time nursing him back to health, his foster mum has decided to keep him, lucky boy!

Xray showing Mossy's terrible leg break!
Mossy on cage rest
Next up we have Mossy, a 3 year old cat who was collected by an inspector at the end of January having been found straying with a broken front leg.  His fracture was so bad that again amputation was considered but the vets believed it was worth trying to save his leg first, which meant fitting a metal support on the outside of his leg to help the broken bones fuse back together. We knew that Mossy would be with us a good few months and would need a long list of medication including frequent paw massages to stop it swelling up. Three weeks into his rehabilitation and he’s making good progress, he’s on cage rest to stop him trying to walk around but his foster mum reports that his metal support doesn’t stop him trying. He’s also wearing a cone to prevent him licking the wound; the poor lad must be quite uncomfortable with all the extra gear he’s got on at the moment. But a recent vet check shows he’s heading in the right direction, at least another 6 weeks of cage rest is needed before a second x-ray is taken and his metal support is removed. So watch this space for updates!

Eunice in a terrible state on arrival
You might have seen in our previous blogs and newsletters cases of cats with allergies who take a while to ‘get right’. These poor things normally come into our care bald or scabby or with upset stomachs and 9 times out of 10 it’s a food or flea allergy which has done the damage. We currently have two such residents; Eunice, a 5 year old tortie who only has half her body covered in hair. She’s over groomed so much that the rest of her is bald. And Chess, a chunky fella who has a persistent scabby area on his neck which he can’t stop scratching at. 

Eunice feeling better in her foster home

In both cases the cause is unknown but steroids are helping to make them more comfortable whilst we figure it out. We are hopeful that Chess will hopefully be ready for adoption in about a month. He’s currently wearing a cone to prevent him scratching and once the area is healed the vets are confident he can come off the steroids and lead a normal life. Eunice and her bald belly and back on the other hand may take longer to cure, a food allergy is a possible cause but it may also be stress. Currently she’s being spoilt in a foster home and until her fur has fully grown back she will need to continue the medication. Then the plan is to wean her off the steroids and see if she starts to over groom again. If she does then she may need a specialist diet or to go back on a low maintenance dose of steroids but I’m sure we’ll find a solution in the end. 

Scabby Chess!
We’ve seen an increase in cases like Chess and Eunice in recent years but at least it means we are getting really good at treating them! Our star of 2016, Camille, found her forever home in January and she was bald and in a very bad way when she arrived back in July, we found that a grain-free diet and a monthly prescription flea treatment kept her in good health but her journey with us lasted 6 months. Fingers crossed Eunice doesn’t try and out do her, hey!

Dreamboat Franklin!
Last but by no means least is Franklin, a 5 year old tabby boy who is just the most loving lad you could ever wish to meet. He is my foster cat so I may be a little biased but he really is great. Sadly he’s spending more time at the vets than he is in my house at the moment. I don’t want to say too much about my boy because I’m planning on making him the star of my next blog post but in brief he came into our care at the end of January after being found stray with a nasty collar wound injury. Collar wound injuries are my absolute bug bare and so unnecessary. They are always caused by elasticated cat collars and typically the cat gets their leg stuck through having tried to free themselves from being caught on a bush or fence. They reach their arm through their collar to try and get free and end up cutting the skin under the armpit. Left undiscovered the collar digs in day after day and causes the most merciless of injuries. 

This type of injury takes months and months to heal and often has an unhappy ending because the skin is so delicate in that area. So far Franklin is on his third operation to fix the wound, he has to be kept on cage rest to stop him moving around, he has to wear a collar to stop him licking the area and he needs to be bathed 5 to 6 times a day to keep the wound dry. Phew. We have everything crossed for Franklin, things are looking positive at the moment but it’s so easy for the wound to break down that things can quickly change. Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog for more about our Franklin and in the meantime make sure if your cat does wear a collar that it's a 'snap release' design and of course that they are microchipped too!

So now you know a little about what has been going on behind the scenes at the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch! We feel it’s a privilege to be able to help these special case animals and in an ideal world we’d never have to turn away an animal just because their recovery time was predicted to last many weeks or months. But sadly, in Summer, we get overwhelmed by a completely preventable and unnecessary occurrence; huge numbers of unwanted pregnant cats and kittens coming into our care because so many people don’t have their animals neutered. Female cats can become pregnant at 4 months of age! As soon as Spring arrives we know we’ll be drowning in adorable kittens once again.

Therefore, we are trying our best to prepare for kitten season in advance this year by  offering cat neutering vouchers to people on low incomes (please call 0161 882 0680 option 4 or email rspcamcr_salford@btconnect.com if you live in our area and need help neutering your cat). Maybe encourage that friend you have to hurry up and get their cat neutered too!

You can help us even further by becoming a cat foster carer! Check out our video below for more information and contact us with any queries via the contact details above. We need your support more than ever.