Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Happy Tails Tuesday: Betty & Johnny

The last Happy Tails Tuesday is cats Betty & Johnny adopted by Stacey Brandwood...

Just letting you know how great they are both doing since we adopted them in December last year. As you can imagine, they've really settled in well and truly made themselves at home!

We've discovered that Johnny isn't quite the macho man he appears to be - despite being very big boned! He towers over all the other cats in the neighbourhood...but he really is a pussy cat. He wouldn't harm a fly...(though field mice are a different story - he brought one home the other week after finding it in our garden! It was still alive, blinking in his jaws! I managed to make him drop it - that was one lucky mouse!). He also loves his food (a little too much) and tends to sit begging at meal times if he smells anything meaty or fishy! He's also very vocal, and we have many a chat (my husband think's Ive lost the plot!)

Betty has been the biggest surprise. She's transformed from sulky nervous Betty to cocky attention seeking Betty! She's the house guard dog, chasing off all other cats who dare to approach (despite her being so tiny!). She loves to sit on your lap being cooed over. Infact, as I write this email she is rubbing her nose up the edge of the laptop! Her favourite past time is playing with her favourite toy, chasing the feathery tail around the livingroom. She often sits and cries after her breakfast waiting to be played with. Infact, she plays with her favourite toy so often that weve had to replace it 3 times due to it being worn out!

We had a cat flap fitted back in March, and since then theyve both been able to go and return at their leisure during the day. Though to be honest, they never go further than our neighbours houses, and they always come home when I call (and neither of them like the rain!).

In summary, we love them both to bits, and I think they love us just as much in return.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Black is Back!

I'm deeply worried. We have more black cats and kittens in our care than we ever have had before. It sounds strange to some people but black cats are truly the hardest to home and it means that we have kittens growing up in our care, rapidly, as they get overlooked in favour of prettier coloured kittens.
Mo and Farah on the podium

Mo and Farah are a classic case in point. They have the most endearing personalities yet people aren't seeing beyond their colour. The second time I saw them in their foster them one of the boys was bouncing around, being incredibly entertaining, whilst the other one just climbed up onto my lap for attention, purred away and feel fast asleep. This level confidence and sociability with strangers is not commonplace and even more remarkable considering they were found dumped in a box.

We have many more black kittens, not old enough to be rehomed yet, who will most likely endure the same extended wait for new homes. I'm hopeful this bank holiday weekend will find people browsing the internet looking for new furry friends and will consider and a noir variety. In the meantime here are a selection of beautiful, black cats.

Bob was abandoned in a box

Earl is an older chap whose elderly owner passed away

Emma was forced to live outdoors by her owner as a tiny kitten
Gary is a highly entertaining chap. He was dumped outside a vets.

Gonzo was found on a dual carriageway. We suspect he was abandoned.

Pepper came in with his siblings and mum. His owner was over-run with animals and unable to look after herself.
Pepsi, mum of Pepper, has come such a long way. Initially frightened and shy she now loves rolling on her back whilst you tickle her tummy and has found her playful side!
Vic was abandoned in a box with Bob. He has a special 'boggle eye'.

Are black cats lucky or unlucky? 
It seems that there’s a difference of opinion throughout history!
In ancient times, Druids believed black cats were humans, reincarnated as cats as a punishment for evil deeds they'd committed in a past life.
In the Middle Ages in Germany it was believed that if a black cat jumped on the bed of a sick person, then the person would die.
In Finland, they were believed to carry the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
In 18th and 19th century England, fishermen's wives kept black cats because they believed this helped to keep their husbands safe at sea. If one ran in front of a sailor as he walked up a pier, this would bring him good luck.
However, if it crossed his path, it meant bad luck.
At this time, cats were carried on ships to keep rats and mice at bay. If a black cat was thrown, or accidentally fell overboard, this was believed to bring bad luck in the form of a terrible storm.
Interestingly, in England, Scotland and Australia today, a black cat crossing your path is supposed to be lucky…….
But if you live in Ireland, most of the rest of Europe, India or America it's meant to be
bad luck!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Happy Tails Tuesday: Bowie

This week's Happy Tails Tuesday features Bowie the RSPCA rescue kitten adopted by Lisa Duddington...

We adopted Bowie a year ago now. We already had a 2 year old cat called Ramos who decided to adopt us when his owner moved house and left him behind. Knowing Ramos was used to living with other cats, after several months it was time to get him a friend.
Originally, I’d planned to adopt an adult cat, knowing that they’re often overlooked in favour of kittens but when I saw a black and white tuxedo kitten called Bowie and read his story it was love at first sight. He was incredibly skinny and had been found lost on the streets all alone. I showed his pic to my other half and we arranged to visit him at his foster home.
When we arrived we were greeted by two very confident kittens, but little Bowie was hiding behind the sofa. Once his foster parent coaxed him out, it was apparent just how skinny he was compared to the other kittens. He was soon headbutting us and he purred the whole time we were there so it was clear that he liked us as much as we liked him. I quickly mailed the team to let them know we’d be adopting him.
When we went to pick him up he was hiding behind the sofa again and something was mentioned about his meow. I didn’t think much about it, then in the car I completely understood. Boy could this kitten meow! Such a tiny little thing but the loudest meow I’d ever heard! When we got home, I sat with him in the hallway - I’d sectioned it off, put lots of toys out, litter tray and cave basket for him to hide in and feel safe. At first he went in the cave, but it didn’t take long before he came out for a cuddle and to sniff out his new surroundings. He was soon purring loudly! (this was to be a frequent thing and earned him the nickname ‘The purr-minator’) He didn’t like being left on his own so I let him out and he soon snuggled up next to me on the sofa and fell asleep.

The first few days were really hard. Bowie stayed in the second bedroom. Ramos had discovered the newcomer and spent his time growling and hissing at the door (and even at me!) - I’d never seen my cat like that before and it was quite a shock! At night Bowie scratched up all the carpet trying to get out and cried the whole time. We barely slept and I was worried I’d made the wrong decision to get Ramos a friend. I phoned Susie at the branch and she was incredibly supportive. She found out that Bowie had slept on his foster parents bed so that night we let him sleep with us and got a whole nights sleep. Things seemed much better - even Ramos never slept through a whole night!

Bowie immediately loved Ramos. He’d run up to him when he came in the house and follow him everywhere, only to be greeted by growling or hissing and the odd swat to stay away. Luckily Bowie wasn’t bothered by this at all so we stuck with it, seeing small changes in Ramos, such as stopping growling then letting Bowie nearer without hissing. It took a whole 6 months before Ramos very suddenly decided to accept Bowie. They started to play fight, chase each other and sleep near each other - they had become friends!
After a year, Bowie is much the same as he was as a kitten. He’s very vocal, is still a scaredy cat with strangers, purrs a lot, still headbutts when he greets us and still sleeps on his back with all 4 paws in the air! He’s very gentle and has never once bitten or scratched. When we’re in another room or if he wants attention he’ll do his very unique loud meow that’s almost like a yodel. He still loves being picked up, cuddled and playing with his favourite toy. When he wants you to play he’ll find his toy and drop it by your feet then look at you with his big eyes and meow. Ramos knows lots of tricks and Bowie learnt all of these very quickly! If he was braver he’d be a candidate for Britain’s Got Talent! The only thing that’s changed is his independence and his size - he loves being outdoors and he’s grown into a very tall and long cat! When he gets his first proper winter coat he will be a strapping boy and Ramos will be even more grateful of his new friend. Bowie has been a fabulous addition to our family.

I’d recommend everyone to adopt from the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch. You may think it’s cheaper to get a cat or kitten from the local paper but when I took on Ramos, I easily spent over £100 on neutering, vaccinations, tests, de-fleaing and de-worming. He also kept getting into fights and hurting himself (more vet costs!) as his previous owner hadn’t bothered to neuter him. All the RSPCA ask for is £50 (which includes neuter, chip, vaccinations, flea/worm treatment and a vet check) and you know that you’re making a real difference to a cat who’s had a hard start in life and desperately needs your love.

Sunday, 19 August 2012


The Winter months seem so distant, but for the first Summer ever I'm longing for those miserable, cold times when two days off a week is a reality and kittens are few and far between.

I love Summer; it is my favourite time of the year. I love the long light days, the glorious sunshine and holidays! But this Summer has been far from glorious.. The weather has been vile and the sheer number of cats and kittens being rescued is fast becoming what seems like an unprecedented amount. We've taken on more foster carers in an attempt to cope with the strain,but when you consider who long each family unit stays with a foster carer it barely makes a dent. The answer has to be neutering, but as regular readers of the blog know, we've tried hard this year to give away free cat neutering but there have been few takers.

Florence and her two kittens were removed from horrible circumstances.
Rabbits are being rescued by the dozen too, and due to a lack of space we've been unable to help the inspectorate. We have, however, taken in two strays. One is a baby and residing at my house, making a total of 9 pooping machines making me do a day's work before I even leave the house, and the other furball has taken the space of Tinker and Taylor, who were adopted on Friday.

Stray bunny captured by me, Hannah and Carmen today on an estate in Salford

But what I've long learnt is that the problem isn't resolved by simply creating more capacity to take in more animals. We could have endless amounts of space but there will still be unwanted, abandoned and badly cared for pets. The answer has to be to reduce the animal population and so this will be our focus, once more, this Autumn. What I simply don't know is how we get people to actually use the neutering vouchers we give them.
Poppy is pictured with her headscarf, Pansy. There are 4 other kittens in the litter.

From another, purely selfish point of view, as a small charity we simply don't have the budget to contend with the additional costs of increasing our capacity, which inevitably means a new headache - how do we raise the funds? Inevitably what comes with taking in more animals is more illnesses to contend with. We've had a lot of ill animals this month and I am concerned that our August vet bill may very well reach a record high. Finding the money for this is not as simple as it sounds. We are greatly reliant on donations and fundraising but the holiday season really impacts on things like charity shops sales, so we have to look at alternative income streams. An obvious choice at this time of year is attending community fairs, but with the weather having been so rotten of late we've scaled back on outdoor activities this summer for this very  reason.

Braving the heatwave at EST Donkey Sanctuary yesterday.

We did, however, attend the EST Donkey Sanctuary Summer Fair yesterday with a teddy tombola and free microchipping. Myself and Emma, one of our foster mum's and fundraisers, were reminiscing about all the stalls we've tried to do in ridiculous weather. Whilst Emma remembered them with fondness, the misery of those times stick hard with me! But yesterday was a great day for connecting with animal-minded people.
 It was wonderful to see so many folks getting involved with the stall and being so generous. Yet there was this really stark contrast between supporters and people coming along to take advantage of free microchipping.

Twentyone animals were microchipped for free and we received no more than a few coins in donations for it. Considering that it costs up to £30 at a vets to have your pet chipped, and that many of the dogs were pedigrees, I can't help but feel tinged with annoyance. Now don't get me wrong, we aren't doing the chipping to make any money, we are doing it to help the owned animals, but there is a part of me that finds it really quite galling that such little appreciation is shown.

We did, however, meet three people that bowled me over. One was a couple that had taken on a seriously problematic Chihuahua that had been beaten and thrown down stairs. Another was a family that had bought a dog via Facebook and were getting him kitted out with everything he needed. But my favourite by far was a young chap with an American Bulldog.

This young man and his dog were the stereotypical image of irresponsible pet ownership yet he was the most responsible pet owner we met that day. Not only was his dog neutered but incredibly well cared for, obedient and suitably trained. He really restored my faith and just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover.

The other theme we kept repeatedly experiencing was people using choke chains, or half check chains, to 'train' their dog and so many young and excitable pups that hadn't been to training classes. If I could influence government policy not only would I call for all dogs to be microchipped and neutered (KC registered breeders being the only exception) I would also ban all check/choke chains, electric/prong collars and make it compulsory for all puppies to attend training classes (of the right kind).

A perfect poster-boy for this was a Bichon Frisse we met called Louis. I think he was 8 months. Louis had just passed his beginners training class and was enrolled for the intermediate class. Louis sat obediently as we microchipped him and he was a real credit to his owners and their hard work in helping Louis to become a happy and obedient dog.

We met very many other puppies that ran around like loons, jumping up for attention, desperately trying to learn how to please and use their active minds.What is so frustrating is seeing so many owners unknowingly creating behavioural problems through their actions/inactions and inconsistent approach and seeing first hand which dogs, and why, will end up in pounds. Being a responsible pet owner is so much more than just feeding, walking and loving your animal and that young man and his Am bulldog were a role model of how to really care for your dog.

Camilla was found in someones garden flea ridden and severely matted with her baby Adriana

Adriana kitten warm and dry

This Autumn we have 3 free pet clinics lined up, but we are as yet to identify venues to hold them in. If anyone has any ideas for the Harpurhey, Wythenshawe or Gorton areaa then please drop us an email at so we can get pets neutered and microchipped for free.

Little Mo. Or is it Farah? They are pretty much identical it's hard to tell them apart.

Whilst the kittens and cats featured in this blog may be super cute, please spare a thought for the black kitties that get little interest in them, like little Mo and his brother Farah. The boys were abandoned in a box and have been in our care awaiting a new home for home 2 weeks now because they are black. People call up, ask what kittens we have, and as soon as they hear they are black they make excuses and ring off. It is so upsetting because these two boys are just delightful, confident and ever so loving and would be ideal for a family home. Black kittens are no different than multi-coloured ones but these boys are even more special than most because their personalities are so great.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Happy Tails Tuesday: Poppy

This week's Happy Tails Tuesday features RSPCA rescue cat Poppy adopted by Jane Andrews.

We adopted Poppy in December 2011 and we chose her because, despite being quite shy and timid, she nuzzled her face into my hand when I entered her pen at the cattery, a canny move which had me hooked! Poppy’s long hair had not been cared for in her previous life so she was almost completely shaven when she came to live with us, except for her very cute and hilariously fluffy legs, which gave her an excellent 80s leg warmer style. She was extremely timid on arrival, she hid for several days and when she did emerge she jumped at the slightest sound and went straight into hiding if any visitors popped in.

But what a difference a few months can make. As Poppy’s fur grew, so did her confidence, and her demands! I never could have imagined what an absolute beauty we had adopted, but she’s now a proper princess for whom grooming is a favourite pastime (second only to chasing her very fluffy tail), and if she hasn’t had her daily brushing session on my lap she soon reminds us with loud protests and repeated longing glances over at the shelf where the brush is kept!

Poppy had never been outside before and watching her venture one step further from the door each day has been really rewarding. She’s still not a fan of the wind (darts at the slightest breeze), long grass (daintily picks up her paws and pulls up her tummy to pass over it), or going outside alone, but she is getting more adventurous by the day with occasional tree climbing sessions and forays into next door’s garden.

Her biggest achievement to date was when my neighbour popped round with her Great Dane, Ollie. I expected Poppy to flee but instead she stood her ground, and stared Ollie down for the full 10 minute visit!

Next week - Johnny & Betty the cats' story!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

You've been Tango'd

It's been quite a week at RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch. Last night I was still reeling from it all and today I'm simply knackered. There has been so much activity and some major things occurring that taking stock for the blog is a far bigger job than usual.

Stand out moments are always the rehoming of animals, but this week has been particularly special as we have found homes for some of our beloved dogs: Teebo, Kia, Lucy andBenjamin. Not all have gone yet but we will hopefully see them bark off to new horizons pretty soon. We've also found forever homes for 3 adult cats and 4 kittens and there's yet more to be viewed, including some of of our hard-to-home cats. But probably my favourite of the week was Danni the bunny being given a shot at happiness. She's been with us since November last year and finally a home has been offered to her with a wonderful lady in Selby.

After a handover at services on M62, Danni is settling in to her new home. Let's hope the bonding works with her intended works out.

One of my lasting memories of the the week was from Tuesday morning. I'd gone along to the RSPCA animal hospital to collect a mum and five kittens and ended up coming away with a bit extra 4 kittens, and an adult cat and 2 guinea pigs. As I was driving along somebody did a poo. It was torrential rain so opening the windows wasn't an option. The smell was so bad that I had to pull up and clean up. It turned out to be mummy cat's poo and it had got smeared all over the kittens too. It was only 9.30am and it felt like it was going to be a very long day from thereon in!

The poo culprit, Poppy. Pictured relaxing in her foster home.
The 2 guinea pigs had been  found the day before by a member of the public. They were stray and very underweight and probably around 5-6months old. I can honestly say we've not had stray guinea pigs before. Abandoned, oh yes, but not actually running loose on a street. They've been named Ingrid and Rita and we have to keep hold of them for a good month in case they are pregnant. Quite mysteriously their genitals were swollen and it made it hard to sex them. All in all these girls are lucky, but for our sake please keep everything crossed they don't have porklets!
Rita and Ingrid have not stopped scoffing since arriving at their foster home.

This week has been memorable for other, less exciting reasons that are all part and parcel of running a branch. For example, after over 3 years of negotiating a new tenancy on our Chorlton shop/office we finally signed a new one, which meant 2 years of back rent to pay along with solicitors fees and sundries. Instantly £40k was wiped from our accounts. Obviously we'd kept the money to one side but the 'deed' was quite horrible and unsettling seeing our reserves diminish so dramatically.

We also found out this week that the kennels we use for our dogs are retiring and closing up. This means we have a few weeks to relocate. I also have a monumental secret I can't share just yet and we've found another retail unit to let and had our offer accepted. This latter bit is both incredibly exciting and colossal. Our fourth shop is going to be in the Northern Quarter next door to the Manchester Craft Centre! But very soon a whole truck load of work will be unleashed and I'm just shoving all that to one side for now until the lease is signed, and then I'll have a nervous breakdown.

So, as you can tell, there's never a quite such thing as a quiet week at the branch, but I did nearly have a full day on Thursday of peace and quiet. And do you know what? I found it boring! There's no pleasing some, is there?

Next week is starting off with the challenge of finding foster homes for 3 cats, first thing Monday morning. Again, I'm shoving that to one side and waiting for the answer to land in my lap because sometimes this management strategy works just fine. Like with the 4 kittens below.

Our Debs opened her home to the kittens, much to my relief. One has a boggley eye and might have to be removed next week. But for now they are greatly enjoying being in a home. Both pairs abandoned.
So, now time for some seriously cute pictures of some of the babies in our care....

Frankie is 6 weeks old and going to be a giant lop when he grows up.
One of Poppy's kittens captured after a feed.

Thriving babies after a week or so of worrying about their mummy Summer who was very poorly indeed.

The last thing I wanted to share was something that was sent to me this week by our foster mum Mel. For me it is a poignant tribute to the work our wonderful foster carers do and a nod to the crazy critters that bite and scratch and claw  their ways into our hearts.

Mel has Tango in her charge. Tango is one of those young cats that's just jolly hard work and to be honest I feared we might not find him a home. However, a newspaper appeal in the Salford Advertiser this weekend has come up trumps and the folks aren't in the least bit phased by his boisterous behaviour so here goes with....

The Real Write Up on Tango

"If you want your cat to be a cuddly, fluffy bundle to be held close to your heart this NOT the cat for you. If, however, you get the fact that to many cats we are simply the hired help and in Tango's mind he is a lion in his own backyard then this is the boy for you.
You don't get looked at sideways unless he wants something. He has no interest in the fabulous scratch post donated by my neighbour but has recently decided to try the walls...these seem to suffice.
If you dare to eat tinned, or heaven forbid, fresh fish you will be meowed at in the most crackly ear piercing way until defeat is admitted and you hand over the required amount.
Any space left warm will be jumped into and claimed for exclusive use of Tango.
And finally, you will continually fall for the "I'm so cute I need a tummy rub" ruse and have your fingers savaged. And yet as I sit here Tango has just strolled over, flopped down and given me the biggest purr and again I'm in love with this cheeky, naughty, little blurr of orange. Bugger I'm such a sucker!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Happy Tails Tuesday: Zak

This week's 'Happy Tails Tuesday' features Zak adopted by Kate Every...

''We adopted Zak about 14 months ago now, seems like he has been with us forever. From day one he was a sweetie but he has come out of himself unbelievably over the last year and a bit. He is a proper so-and-so, but in a really good way.

He has been on trips on the train (he LOVES the train, especially standing up and looking out the window) and in the car (he only likes the car if he can stick his head out of the window, gets a little bit car sick sometimes). He loves getting in cars though, even our neighbours if they accidentally leave the car doors open. He is great with other dogs, to the point where we know that if we get a bigger house or things change we will get him a brother. He has a friend in our local country park who he has the best time with.

He is not so good with horses and cows (he thinks they are big dogs that also want to play, however, they are extremely unimpressed) - it is the one flaw in his coming on command, other than that he is a sweetie. He still doesn't like the vets, but I clip his claws myself so we will only have to go if he is poorly or for jabs. He likes to get fussed but gets a bit stroppy with his hands being held for clipping, he wants to fidget.
He absolutely loves being on the bed (or on the sofa if we are out. Zak, we know you do it) and looking out the window - when he is on his own he sits on the sofa and watches the neighbours. He has developed amazing skills at sneaking onto the bed about 5am and sleeping at the bottom between our legs without us noticing. As soon as we wake up he has to be up our end for cuddles. Some days you would swear he thinks he is a child. When he sneaks onto the spare bed he sleeps with his head on the pillow.

He absolutely loves to chat - he grunts and groans and squeaks and chatters away whenever he gets the chance, and is very good fun. He has also revealed the amazing trick of being able to open doors - not sure if we told you. We only have 70's push doors, but when he stayed at my parents with lever handles he managed to open them all - push in and pull out doors, including the tough style PVC front doors . He seems to be a bit of a bright spark! He also has the cutest trick of smiling when you rub his head, and has these 'cute ears' that he puts on when he wants something. He loves to kiss and cuddle and seeks you out to show affection - he will 'kiss' anyone or anything, especially his animal toy collection who he loves (we have a duck, a badger, an owl, a fox and a walrus dotted around the house. RIP ursula unicorn).

We are taking him down to Suffolk for the second time too, to the middle of nowhere. He loves it, we took him to one of the biggest stubble fields last summer and he just ran to the middle and looked around in awe (you couldn't see any signs of people, even electricity poles etc) and he met a stoat which was hilarious - he seemed to have never seen a proper rabbit / stoat hole, and stood on the edge of this bank looking upside down into this stoat hole while an angry furry creature squeaked at him which he thought was the best thing ever and just banged his feet up and down excitedly - he just wants to PLAY with everything.

The main thing is that he is an amazing dog and is super happy and content - we are so so grateful for letting us adopt him, and overall really grateful and respectful of the work that you do helping animals get better lives. I can't often read your blog as it makes me cry but we do appreciate what you work hard to do. We both agree that Zak is the best thing to ever happen to us and we love him and his massive personality so much.''

Next week Betty & Johnny the cats' story!

Saturday, 4 August 2012


With the Olympic Games proving all consuming this week it has, for me, thrown into sharp relief something that we at the RSPCA do really well, and that's team work.

It first struck me when I came across a press release from the national Society about a successful prosecution of a horrific case of two dogs being left four weeks without food and water. One died and the other feasted on his companion to survive. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the attending RSPCA inspector to witness such a sight?

What I've learnt over the years is that whilst your imagination maybe able to conjure up a pretty awful scene in your mind when you read about cruelty cases the reality is always, always far worse. Actually seeing neglect first hand is, quite frankly, the stuff that nightmares are made of. So, every time I learn of a horrific case like this I always think about the impact on the investigating staff.

On this occasion the investigating officer is a friend of mine and I immediately texted her offer my congratulations. I then shared the article on my Facebook page and soon after comments popped up from nursing staff from the RSPCA vets and other staff, volunteers and adopters. It made me realised what a wonderfully supportive community we are in and just how committed we all are about our contribution to animal welfare.

Today has provided another podium-like pride sweller with the training of 8 new volunteer home visitors. Half the group were existing volunteers and the other half were newbies to the fold. What was so lovely was seeing people relax and integrate with such ease, thanks to the encouragement and support they received from each other. What I loved even more was listening to people share stories about their animals and the ones they help care for on our behalf. Listening to people so enthralled by the furries was fantastic; they were just so impassioned I couldn't help but feel proud to be immersed in their presence.

Benjamin Pup, safe and sound in our foster care this week.

This week has finally seen the end of the dreaded cat flu at the cattery and on Friday we reopened, much to everyone's relief. We've had people desperate to come and meet some of the gang and we've been desperate to put newbies in. It has been a struggle and a half to cope. We have approx 6 cats yet to go in that have been temporarily living here, there and everywhere and I am just so grateful to everyone whose been helping us out.

I'm also really hoping that now the summer holidays are underway more people will start to think about animal adoption again. Each summer is the same: adoptions are few and tend to be limited to kittens only. We've begun to get a bit more interest in the dogs and rabbits of late and hopefully in time we will with the adult cats too. But this has been without doubt the worst Summer for animals needing to come in (from being rescued by RSPCA field staff) that I have ever known.

Many are animals that have been abandonment and I believe this is entirely due to the hard times people are experiencing and irresponsible breeding. One call this week was from a gentleman who was heartbroken at having to find somewhere to take in his beloved cats. He had lost his job and felt he could no longer afford them. When I explained that finding a place to take them in at this time of year would be very difficult he sounded crest fallen. What was frustrating for me was that this was somebody trying to be responsible, acknowledging he couldn't give his animals the care they needed and was putting them first. I only wish we could have helped, but aside from their being no room, this is not our remit, it is the role of general animal sanctuaries to help.

This may sound a bit like we are being a jobs-worth but it's quite simple really. If we don't take in the animals the RSPCA field staff rescue then where would they go? We have to do all we can to prioritise those animals so that they can come into safety and recover, like the dog in the case above. But at this time of year finding space is so hard and I'm not immune to a bit of blackmail - giving or receiving!

I succumbed to a major one Friday afternoon and now Herbert the cat is staying in our office for the weekend until we can find him somewhere to go. My punishment is to go into see to him on my day off! But I have also 'tried it on' with a couple of foster carers this week who similarly succumbed and have extra charges in their care. We all do it with a knowing smile but when you have a foster home with cats in every room or a foster home with 7 orphaned kittens charging around you can't help but feel a mix of guilt, desperation and relief.

Next week, I'm sure, will be no different but hopefully home visits for newly reserved Big Daddy and Rain will go through and Herbert can find himself a cosy cattery pen to rest in until he finds his new home. And hopefully we will also have a home or two for some of the pooches, as there is plenty of activity on that front this weekend. Fingers crossed!

So, as Team GB does the nation proud this weekend I will be thinking of just how much Team M&S does the animals proud, and make me feel proud. Our sense of camaraderie and shared vision is so uplifting and inspiring and I thank each and every one of our supporters, volunteers and staff for making sure our animals get all that they deserve and more. Gold!

Favourite image of the week - Paddy in his new home playing with his new mate