Cat rescues are not alone, and for cat carers this is important to know! Wherever you are in the world – we are sure much of this report will resonate with you as we celebrate Blog the Change, with Blogpaws®.
Rescues Can Feel Isolated
It is easy to feel you battle in isolation when working for, or running, a small rescue. So a recent Cat Rescue Seminar in Wellington, New Zealand, organised by Vikki and Hamish, from Outpawed, was not only a chance to hear cat health professionals, rescues and advocacy groups speak about their experiences. but also to gain valuable insights from different areas of the rescue community.
The venue was sponsored by Wellington City Council, who are trying to be proactive in finding ways for cats to be part of our lives and communities in Wellington.
Our Report – The Seminar on Cat Care
We want to cover the thoughts of as many speakers as we can, so here is a breakdown of our experience at the Seminar on Cat Care which we hope is informative, and reflects this wonderful, and inspiring, event. We also wonder how much of this is reflected in rescues worldwide.
- A Vet’s Perspective on Cat Care
- The High and Lows of Battling to get TNR Accepted – Outpawed
- The Cat Rescues View – UHARS
- New Zealand Official Animal Carers the SPCA
- A Fundraiser Speaks
A Vet’s Perspective on Rescue Cat Care
Dr Ian Schraa from local veterinary group Rappaw spoke at length about cat illnesses, infections humans can get from cats, and most radically, about antibiotics. His talk communicated his love for animals, and Ian peppered his slide show with stories of cats from his practice, giving a vet’s perspective on their health issues.
Community cats and strays are more prone to infections because if their way of life and their environments. We were told that these diseases and infections can be divided into categories – viruses, bacteria, fungi, worms, and single cell. Whatever it is a rescue may be dealing with, one of the most important things Ian said was this:-
You Should Know What “Normal” Is
Know how cat’s eyes are meant to look, how their gums react to pressure, and what normal cat temperature is (C38-C39). Know what healthy is. That way you know when a cat deviates from ‘normal’ and can make an informed cat health decision.
The Vet Says – Volunteers Wear Gloves!
Rescues and volunteers encounter diseases on a regular basis so it is common sense to always wear gloves when working at your local rescue. Some diseases can be passed on to humans, such as ringworm, cat scratch fever, fleas and toxoplasmosis but these can all be dealt with sensibly.
There is a lot of fear mongering about toxoplasmosis in particular, and many cats have been forced brutally from homes due to widespread human ignorance of the positive ways to deal with cats and a pregnancy in the family.
- This does not need to happen – this article on Cats and Pregnancy is reassuring and helpful.
The Death of Antibiotics in Cat Care
Ian also made some thought-provoking points about antibiotics, and suggested that they may not be around in 20+ years time. This was not just a dramatic statement, he backed it up with valid arguments.
- No new antibiotics have been developed in the last 14 years! It is more profitable to invest money at cancer drugs, heart drugs etc., in the hope of quicker and increased profits for pharmaceutical companies. There is no profit in antibiotics.
- Antibiotics are being widely overused – and as a result…
- Bacteria have developed resistance to most antibiotic treatments. So, antibiotics will lose their effectiveness due to overuse.
- Antibiotics need to be used rationally – and disposed of by pet owners when not used within the specified time of the treatment.
Cat Care and the Management of Infectious Diseases
Something rescues may face is infectious disease, and the most important thing we took away from this part of Ian’s presentation was:-
Cleanliness is CRITICAL for rescues Everywhere
These are some steps Ian spoke of when dealing with infectious diseases:-
- Isolation is VITAL
- A sterile environment is very important – wash hands, gloves, and proper cleaning.
- Diagnosis – What Is It? Diagnosis = proper treatment to target and remove infection.
- Early intervention. See “Know What Normal Is” above.
- Prevention if possible. Thorough cleanliness (teaching volunteers spotlessly clean practices), and the inoculation of cats and kittens.
Outpawed – Rescue from the TNR Perspective
The Outpawed Rescue Trust is a new but determined rescue and TNR group local to us in Porirua, near Wellington. Vikki from Outpawed spoke eloquently about the commitment needed, the issues facing TNR (trap, neuter, return) and their own committment to changing things for cats. It was moving to hear Vikki speak about their battles to save the lives of kittens, and community cats.
- You can donate to Outpawed here.
We were able to interview Outpawed for National Feral Day day last year and their interview is worth a read.
Although Outpawed are a recently established group, they have been obliged to expand further north into Horowhenua to help deal with a community cats colony under threat there. The town of Levin has a reputation for being dumping ground for unwanted cats, and we reported about the cats of the area here.
- Outpawed welcomes offers to foster young cats and kittens. Contact details can be found on their web page, or you can contact them on Facebook.
Upper Hutt Animal Rescue – A Rescue’s Perspective
Adrian Johns spoke with commitment and honesty on behalf of UHARS (Upper Hutt Animal Rescue Society). As an established rescue with its own premises (owned not leased), he said that a rescue with its own site has a different set of challenges, alongside the usual demands faced by rescues.
He then spoke about UHARS history and how the rescue has developed. He mentioned that the rescue celebrating its 50th birthday this year, a real achievement for a small rescue, and they are justifiably proud of their work. Times are though but UHARS fights on. They have a busy Facebook page with daily updates here.
Community Cat Care and TNR in Upper Hutt
Adrian mentioned the positive potential for community cat outreach work by a UHARS team, as a way of being proactive helping local businesses that care for cats on their property. Many local companies felt a genuine affection for the cats on their property which is a positive place to start from.
Many of the point Adrian addressed are ones relevant to every rescue worldwide and may have you nodding in agreement:-
- Volunteers and careful finance are the foundations of a rescue.
- Goodwill is important to a rescue. You need happy volunteers glad to be working there, and ready to commit regularly.
- There will be anger at how cats are treated, but rescues need to manage that anger and focus in best outcomes for cats.
- There are different rescues in different niches and working together means groups can achieve more.
- Lively Social Media is a vital part of every rescue’s identity. A Facebook page (UHARS), a busy Twitter account.
Neko-Ngeru The Cat Cafe’s Role in Rescue and Welfare
Richelle of the Cat Adoption Cafe “Neko-Ngeru” gave us a valuable insight into another, different and fun way, to get cats into the public eye. Richelle spoke about how she and her husband Ken fell in love with New Zealand, and dreamed of opening their own cat cafe in Wellington. She discussed the regulations and challenges that surround opening an establishment, especially one linked to cats, adoption, and rescue.
Richelle and Ken will work with rescues across the area, facilitating adoptions, and making cats more high-profile through their presence at the cafe. This will allow all local rescues to propose cats suitable for the cafe. A genuinely useful and exciting way of allowing many rescues to get cats ‘seen’ by a lot of potential adopters.
- Neko-Ngeru have a lively and busy Facebook page, and a website, emphasising the importance, once again, of a lively social media presence.
The SPCA – What is a Stray What is a Feral? What is Wild?
We had a lively discussion with a representative from the SPCA who challenged us to define words like ‘stray’, ‘feral’ and ‘wild’. The SPCA in New Zealand is governed by the Animal Welfare Act and has specific roles to play under that legislation, unlike small local rescues. This legislation governs what it can, and cannot do, but the SPCA are called on for help in many situations.
- Many people may not realise that recently, all of the SPCA branches were recently brought together under one umbrella for the first time.
Cat Care and Cat Definitions
Did you know that the definition of ‘feral’ in New Zealand is a cat ‘none of whose needs are met by humans‘?
It made us wonder what the actual definition is in other countries and how this affects the attitudes of authorities. The SPCA man said that most people in New Zealand never see a feral cat because these cats live far from human habitation. They are different to the ‘community cats’ fed by carers.
The SPCA point was, we believe, to make us think about how cats are defined. Unlike dogs, cats are not obliged to be registered, and unlike dogs, there is no protective legislation in place. [NZ Dog Legislation outline].
Cat rescues need to be proactive in working with legislators to find the best way forward for cats. This can include TNR, local low cost neutering initiatives, and working with environment groups to find a balance. One thing struck us:
Cat Groups will achieve more working together.
Finishing With a Fundraisers’ Perspective
We finished with comments from a fundraiser for KittyCat Fixers (Facebook) who spoke about her organisation, and the importance of easy access to spay/neutering, even if people don’t have much money.
Inexpensive spay/neutering will ensure fewer cats in rescues, fewer dumped cats, and struggles to help community cats countrywide. The fundraiser commented the importance of focus and commitment of fundraisers, and we felt she got a lot of silent cheers from attendees, all of whom appreciate their own volunteers.
Fundraisers are a vital part of any rescue.
- Respect for their hard work and their willingness to go the extra mile over and again with raffles, collection days, fundraising events is so easy to overlook but these all take time and effort. Three Cheers for Fundraisers!
To Finish Our Cat Rescue Report
This has been a long read, but there is a lot to report, and many good things to remember. The words of Vikki from Outpawed stayed with us because they are important.
“It is so easy in rescue to become disenchanted or lose that sense of hope and optimism we all have when we first get involved. Today we saw energy, hope, inspiration, friendship and so much passion.” – Outpawed
Sustained by delicious and tasty Blue Carrot Catering the room, filled with rescue workers, TNR, and Feral volunteers left energised and inspired. We all know that we are not alone, this event confirmed that. There are other organisations, great and small who work alongside us, fighting for the same causes cat rescue, and cat health here in New Zealand, and around the world.
Marjorie and the
Dash Kitten Crew
Cat Rescue Report