Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The mysterious case of a cat called Sausage

Our Animal Supervisor, Deborah Beats tells us the strange story of Sausage the cat and why she needs your help....

''Whilst sedated I stroked her paw as I listened intently to the surgeon's description of her health complaints and history. I was then led to the x-ray room to view images that showed evidence of great suffering. I had only gone in to drop off animals for neutering and come out with what can only be described as a mystery to solve.

X-ray showing extensive surgery which had taken place prior to Sausage's rescue

Found seemingly homeless, wet through and limping, a member of the public called the National RSPCA to report that a small black cat was in need of rescue. From where she was collected in a nearby northern town, she was taken to the RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital in Salford. Immediately apparent was that this sweet little girl had a flaccid tail, a nasty skin infection around her backend and was limping. X-rays soon revealed, amongst other things, that she had most likely been in a road traffic collision (RTC). Her tail was broken from a 'pulling' injury and required amputation. Even more eyebrow raising was the x-ray that revealed she had undergone major surgery to repair a broken pelvis. There it was, plain to see, the image of a large plate screwed to one side of the pelvis.

The mystery of this little girl deepened. She had been through major surgery at the cost of hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, had been lovingly nursed back to health only to find herself in need of rescue again. There was no form of identification on her, not even a microchip. It was all so very puzzling.

The vets thought that she was likely around 2 months post op, the fur having all grown back and the fracture well healed. Perhaps she had escaped from the home after being under 'house rest' for so long and got lost. But the question still remained, why would someone pay so much money to save their beloved pet but not have them microchipped? Similarly, why had the tail been left, when it was definitely in need of removal? Perhaps further surgery was next on the agenda along with a chip implant and the owner had run out of funds? There was so many questions that needed to be answered.

Two days after first meeting her (and having been in the care of the hospital for a week) she was released into our care, here at the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch (we are a separately run charity to the hospital). No owner had come forward despite being listed online so I collected her and took to her foster mum, coincidentally my own mum, Janis. Upon meeting her we both declared what a “poor sausage” she was and the name 'Sausage' stuck.

Sausage was in a sorry state; her bottom so very sore, requiring twice daily attention and medication. This in itself is a big ask of anybody but made all the worse when Janis discovered that Sausage did not have complete control over her bowel movements and found herself also cleaning up poop to boot. Sausage was nonetheless litter trained but it appeared that the RTC had also affected a little of her sphincter control too.

Due to the risk of cross infection Sausage could not have her tail amputated until her skin was better. She had to wear a dreaded 'cone of shame' and over the coming days she became more and more withdrawn. She seemed depressed and maybe even in pain and it began us asking what was the right thing to do by her.

Sausage in first few days of being in her foster home

During this time we set about contacting all veterinary practices in the surrounding areas to see if any of the surgeons recognized their handiwork from the x-rays. Frustratingly what seemed like a good idea turned up more dead ends.

After completing the 5 days of pain relief and antibiotic cream it was time to take our little Sausage for a vet check up. To our relief we were told that her skin infection had cleared and the cone could come off and she could stop all medication. We were advised that her poo control could be improved by a high fibre diet, so the more dry food the better, and that the vet was now happy to amputate her tail if we thought it was necessary. After living with Sausage for 5 days Janis was sure that amputation was needed. Having a dead, drooped tail didn’t bother Sausage but it did make using the litter tray rather messy as she couldn’t lift it up to get it out of the way, so we booked her in for the operation.

Feeling better!

As soon as Sausage returned from that vet trip we saw an instant change in her mood, being cone free and not having cream applied to your bottom twice a day would make anyone happy! She’s now spent 5 days relaxing and she’s like a different cat, she comes out for fusses, greets you with a soft, contended purr and likes to sit out on show and be admired. Sadly her poop control has not yet improved yet but it is early days; we can experiment with different high fibre foods once the tail is sorted. No doubt the cone will be put back on after the tail amputation but it won’t be for long.

Hopefully in a few weeks time she will be fully healed, we will have found a food that suits her, and together we can face the next hurdle of finding her a home!''

Sausage’s tail amputation will cost over £300 and we need your help!

If you would like to make a donation towards the cost of giving this girl a better quality of life please TEXT TAIL17 £1/2/3/4/5 or £10 to 70070  Alternatively, you can donate online via 
 Just Giving!

NB. If you think you may know more about Sausage or her previous owner please call us on 0161 882 0680 option 4.

Monday, 9 January 2017

The year that was 2016! Our Annual Review

Our Annual Review 2016

Looking back, 2016 has been a big year for us at the RSPCA Manchester and Salford branch, with new species being admitted and rehoming figures reaching an all time high the past 12 months have been a huge success (our accountant might not see it that way mind you!). As a small branch of the RSPCA (and a separately registered charity) with just three members of animal staff (1 full time and 2 part time) we have to work extra hard to keep up with the larger branches. We don’t have our own animal centre and instead rely heavily on volunteer foster homes and private boarding facilities to care for our animals, and yet in 2016 we achieved results equivalent to branches with animal centres.
Thanks to the love and care from our animal foster carers and the social interaction from our volunteer cat cuddlers our fluffy felines have been flying out the door and we’ve seen the success rate of rabbit pairings rise dramatically thanks to our new home bonding scheme. By sending rabbits out on a temporary fostering basis it has given more people the confidence to try and find a buddy for their bunnies, no bunny should be lonely after all! 
Our small but perfectly formed army of cat cuddlers did us proud last year! Mr P was rehomed in record time, snapped up within minutes of being listed online.

Potential rabbit adopters are provided with the loan of equipment and clear guidance on how to sensitively and slowly pair bunnies in the home and as a result we’ve seen far fewer rabbits returned and many more happy rabbits!

Another successful change this year is the admission and rehabilitation of new species. At the start of 2016 we opened our doors to the beloved pet rat. In July an abandonment case put our new ratty care skills to the test. A total of 53 rats were found abandoned. Someone had clearly allowed things to get out of hand and decided to abandon them all when they could no longer cope. Branches across the region were asked to take in what they could so we admitted 11 to start with, followed by another 12 the week after. Our 23 rats quickly doubled in number as the females began to give birth and we soon found our office had turned into the ‘rat room’. Sadly a number of the rats were in a terrible condition but we managed to rehome the majority of the poor little things, including all 20 babies which were born in our care. We now just have one rat left from that case, Rowan, an elderly gentleman who has been suffering with on/off respiratory issues but thankfully he’s found himself a long term foster home so he isn’t too concerned about being overlooked!
One of our many rats now happily settled in their forever home! A huge thanks to all our volunteers who popped into our office to socialise, clean and feed our little ones!

Our excitement at accepting rats into the branch was soon over shadowed by the arrival of the reptiles in March. With only one other branch licensed to keep reptiles in the North there was a growing need for somewhere local to house those rescued by the inspectors. So we launched the Reptile Rehabilitation and Rehoming Project in conjunction with the National RSPCA. We have purpose built facilities in our mini adoption centre at Pets at Home in Stockpor, kindly funded by Support Adoption for Pets. National RSPCA staff who run the centre have received specialist training to care for a variety species including bearded dragons, snakes and geckos. Rehoming started off slowly but by December we saw interest in our scaley friends increase and Jafar the bearded dragon, one of our first residents, found himself a fantastic home after waiting patiently since April. In 2016 we are proud to have admitted 25 and rehomed 15, sadly 5 had to be put to sleep due to severe health problems caused by the neglect they had suffered.

Copper is one of our reptiles currently available for adoption, see them all on our website!

The start of 2016 also saw another big change for us; we had to find a new private boarding facility for our cats. In an ideal world all of our feline friends would be in foster homes but sadly we never have enough so renting out space in a private cattery is the next best thing. Not having onsite accommodation for our animals can be tricky, it means lots of driving around, messaging back and forth and it involves a great deal of trust, but in February we made the necessary move and thankfully our cats have settled in well. Not only that but this year is the first time we have not had to close due to cat flu so that has helped towards our record rehoming figures too. 

We also welcomed a new member of staff to our small but perfectly formed team this year, Paul our new Head of Retail. Since his appointment in late 2015 our charity shops have exceeded all expectations and our retail staff have really given us everything they’ve got to raise as much money as possible for the animals. We can’t thank them enough for their hard work and commitment throughout 2016.

Deborah taking the plunge!
In summer it was time for us to be big and brave and do our annual fundraising challenge event. This normally involves us throwing ourselves off a building or walking across something painful but this year we went for minimal effort, maximum bravery and organised a sponsored head shave (Susie, branch manager, Deborah, animal welfare coordinator pictured left and Susie’s long suffering husband Steve taking the lead!). This event saw us raise over £2,500 and 6 months later we have just enjoyed our first hair cut! It gets harder each year to come up with new and exciting ways to raise money for our animals so please get in touch if you have any wacky, daredevil stunts for us to do!

As we trawl through our end of year stats we inevitably think of the animals that have come and gone over the past 12 months, this year feels like one woeful tale after the next when it comes to rabbits; with so many coming into our care from deplorable circumstances it’s inevitable that we should have some sad endings but we have had some truly wonderful bunnies in our care too who have warmed our hearts. 

Poppet - one of our staff favourites in 2016!
It’s hard to pick favourites (and to remember all of them!) but our stand out stars of 2016 have to be Clementine; a giant black baby rabbit who was found stray and then turned out to be a boy! Poppet (pictured) who despite being the runt of the litter and spending more time at the vets than we care to remember, has made it to her 5 month birthday and is now up for adoption, and Bobby who hands down wins hero of the year. He was just 8 weeks old when he came to us in April after being attacked from head to toe by his parents who were all locked in a tiny, filthy hutch together and had already had another litter of babies after him. Thankfully they were spotted by a neighbour and we managed to get him out just in time. He’s now 9 months old and has spent the past 7 months being rehabilitated in our branch manager Susie’s house!

Kurt finally got his dream home in 2016
We’ve seen some amazing cats pass through our cattery gates in 2016 and we’ve had a couple of special appeals for homes which have all been a massive success, but one character stands out above the rest, our handsome hunk Kurt. Kurt came to us in May after being found stray with an injured tail. He had to have the end amputated but was otherwise a healthy and happy chap. He waited for a home for two months but had no interest despite being placid, cat friendly and a gentle giant but in July he started to drink excessively. After a range of blood and urine tests he was diagnosed with renal dysfunction. This had us all in tears at the time, thinking we’d never find a home for him as if no one was interested before, why would someone want him now on a special diet and a shortened life expectancy but thankfully a miracle happened; a lovely lady came forward and Kurt is now living the high life as an owned and much loved companion animal.

Towards the end of the year we teamed up with Cats Protection to trial a new approach to our animal welfare work. A team of staff and volunteers went door to door offering free neutering, vaccinations and microchipping to cats and dogs in two targeted areas identified by data as potentially benefitting from this kind of support. We had a great response, especially in microchipping dogs, which in April became a legal requirement. So we are looking at rolling the scheme out in other areas in 2017 with our friends from Cats Protection.  

So as we say goodbye to 2016 and take a deep sigh of relief as we finish the last adoption pack, we can at least feel some satisfaction that a record breaking 498 unwanted animals are now safely tucked up inside their forever homes, preparing for a new year of regular meals, clean bedding and a loving carer. And none of that would be possible without the kindness of strangers, thank you to the 498 people who have chosen to adopt rather than shop for animals in 2016 and to those supporters who continually surprise and motivate us with donations, words of encouragement and their time. From team RSPCA M&S and the 88 animals currently in our care, thank you for all you have done to make 2016 a year to remember. Roll on 2017!