This December marks 14 years of me being in post as the RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch Manager. Since 2008 we have evolved as a charity and are now recognised for our ‘cat friendly homing’, knowledge and skills in animal behaviour and training and for our expertise in rabbit and guinea pig welfare. It is a privilege to deliver the highest standard of care for the mistreated animals rescued by National RSPCA inspectors. During my time I have seen some of the worst acts of animal cruelty and suffering and never cease to be amazed and shocked; this year was no different. I’d like to tell you about little Obie.
It was late on a Sunday evening at the end of August when I received this message from a long-serving RSPCA Inspector on duty:
“I’d like your thoughts please. I’ve just removed a kitten from someone. The kitten has damaged back legs and tail, we think likely burns! One of the paws has already come off, and the other will likely come off too! Just been to an emergency vet and they have sent us away with pain relief and said the kitten will definitely need a tail amputation but needs further checks to see what else can be done. Have you ever had anything like this?”
An exchange of messages occurred and the next day the kitten was taken to be assessed by a specialist and I received the following update:
“Well! The little kitten wasn’t quite as bad as I originally thought! The vet said the kitten was over the worst of it, it was likely chemical burns done 7-10 days before I collected her. He said by the time I did collect, the kitten was over the worst of it and she is doing fine and doesn’t need to be put to sleep. He said its skin will just harden over time and she will just be a disabled cat that has to be a house cat!”
You can imagine the relief for the Inspector! We made arrangements for the little mite to come into our care and be fostered by our staff member Catherine (who also clocked up 14 years of service in 2022!). The little kitten was no more than 4 weeks of age and should not have been away from her mum. She was truly underweight even though she had gained a week’s worth of weight in just 4 days. We can only presume that she had been in too much pain to eat previously, but now she was more comfortable, she was enjoying the special kitten weaning food on offer.
The next few weeks were spent raising Obie; her personality was remarkable. She had no concept of her size and had the heart of a lioness and loved attention from everyone! But as she reached 8 weeks of age her rear limb that was missing the entire paw started to cause her discomfort and she couldn’t bear weight on it. After a few weeks of monitoring and medications the vet recommended an x-ray. It showed that there was no ‘padding’ under her skin, so the bone was just touching the skin and then the floor when she placed weight on it. The only way to resolve the pain was to amputate the leg or else she would have a lifetime of pain.
At 12 weeks of age Obie underwent major surgery to remove her limb. Whilst not common surgery to undertake on such a young patient it was nonetheless essential. At her post op check up 5 days later she was healing well and already managing to get about well on just 3 legs. Before long Obie had blossomed into a full-fledged lively kitten, driving everyone in her foster to distraction. She had missed out on essential socialising with other kittens and we all knew that she needed a play friend to improve her communication skills and learn some life lessons! We had to wait until she was fully healed and the stitches out until her foster mum could introduce another, (needy) kitten to her home. They hit it off instantly and Obie’s high-jinx behaviour transformed overnight, much to the relief of everyone in the foster home!
We are in December now and the time has finally come to find Obie a home. It is a bittersweet moment for Catherine, but for me and the rescuing RSPCA Inspector this is what motivates us to continue in our posts after so many years. This extract is from her adoption profile:
Obie is one determined little lady that doesn’t let anything get in her way. She has learnt very quickly how to adapt with her 3 legs and has no problem jumping up on the couch to have a sleep on your lap, or jumping up on a bed and sleeping under the covers. She also has no problem climbing a 6ft activity centre or running around the house. She knows what she wants and when she wants it and will let you know clearly!
Helping mistreated animals like Obie is not possible without the kindness of our supporters. Her veterinary care costs to date are £1,470.93. We are an independently registered charity that receives no funding from the National RSPCA or the government. We have to raise £650,000 a year to continue our vital work. I am humbled by how many people believe in the work that we do and enable us to help animals like Obie when they need us the most. This Christmas I send a heartfelt thank you to our supporters, volunteers and staff, to let you all know how much I appreciate everything you do to help these wonderful animals to live a better life. Together we make a difference, together we are stronger, together we can continue the fight to stamp out cruelty.
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