Rescuing an injured stray cat

So my weekend was eventful! Our plan had been to paint our bathroom, possibly buy some new shelves and pictures to give our old bathroom a new face lift. On our way to the supermarket though, after a whole morning of painting, we saw a little cat sitting on the side of the road. He was up on a little grassy stretch next to some bushes.

We walked past and he meowed at us. To which I obviously responded with a little hello and then he kept meowing. So naturally I took that as an invite for a cuddle! I walked closer and his poor face was covered in scratched. He had clearly lost a fight with…someone or something. He kept meowing but seemed quite happy for me to give him some head rubs. He was definitely scraggy looking and had no collar, so assumed that he was either a stray cat, or just a bit of a scoundrel (as many cats can be).

He was happy with the head rubs but as soon I tried to go down his back for pets he would hiss. But he wouldn’t back away, as you would expect. He would just hiss. Which made me think that he must be injured in some way because usually, if a cat doesn’t want you to pet them, they would let you know with a hiss, back away from you and maybe even a sharp slap on the hand. Henry and I then made the decision that he was injured and that we couldn’;t leave him next to a relatively busy road.

I ran back to ours and grabbed one of our pet carriers. I phoned quite a few different places to see what we can do. Cats Protection – no answer. Local rescue centre – not something they cover. RSPCA – answered and said that if we can get them to a vets then hopefully they can look after them, as they didn’t have anyone in the area to help. So…in all honesty not the most helpful. I phoned our usual vets, explained that we had this stray cat who we think was injured, and they said that if we could catch him and bring him in, they would hacve a look at him.

We put the box in front of him and he immediately tried to run away. I say try, because his front legs were twisted under him and he couldn’t balance or walk properly on them. So then I knew that we had to get this little dude to a vet asap. Truth be told he could still crawl well enough, and it took us at least 2 hours trying to get him into the carry case. In the end, the only thing that worked was filling the case with cat treats and then shoving him in the case while he was too distracted by the food to put up much of a fight.

It took….a lot. He weighed a surprising amount for such a little cat who was clearly starving. The vets gave him a look over, scanned him to a microchip (to no avail) and admitted him to their care. He is now, hopefully, in the best place that he can be and he will now be looked after. And hopefully whatever the issue is with his legs it can be fixed.

Tips I learnt from this experience

Call the RSPCA

The main tip. Depending on the animal and the seriousness of what has happened, they may be able to help. If they can’t, you still need to lodge the call. They will also give you a case number. This is super important. If they tell you to try and catch the animal and to take it to a local vets, the vet will then go to the RSPCA for any fees due to perform emergency surgery. If you do not have a reference number, it is very likely that this will be charged to you. For our kitty, the chance of surgery was pretty high and that would have cost us thousands, which is not something we can really afford, no matter how much we want to help the poor little dude. But with the RSPCA involved, the risk isn’t as high.

Now of course this may only apply to situations such as ours, where the animal is a common pet. It may also just be a policy of our vets, and not one adhered to by every vets practice everywhere. Igf in doubt, phone the RSPCA, get a number, and then phone around your local vets to check that they work with the RSPCA and are happy to assist.

RSPCA emergency number is 0300 1234 999.

Treats

When trying to get a cat (or any injured animal I would imagine) is to use food. In some cases the animal may not have eaten at all, so use treats to coax them into a carrier or out of hiding so you can grab them and get a proper look at them. If I had done this right at the beginning, I probably wouldn’t have had to try and corner the little dude in the middle of a bush and get covered in god knows how many creepy crawlies. *shudder*

It also helps the animal to trust you a bit more. When I was just sitting there quietly, thinking about how best to coax kitty out of his hiding spot in the bushes, he did actually come and poke his head out and meowed at me quite a bit and accepted a few more head rubs. But as soon as he saw the carry case move he would bolt…or at least stumble as quickly as he could.

Be tough

Now I was useless at this, because I am a massive softie and would never want to hurt an animal even if it was done by accident while trying to help them. Henry however, was fantastic for this. He is firm and tough and managed to push kitty all the way into the carry case with little issue. I had tried a few times before and never gotten far.

I know it sucks, because it really does. To think that this animal is already in pain and now you come along to add to it. Because the issue with animals if you just say to them ‘please get into the carry case, you are injured and I am here to help’….you have to force them sometimes in order to properly protect them and look after them.

Be safe

I know this may seem obvious but sometimes the stress of the moment can make you forget. I mean I did climb through pretty deep hedge growth to try and corner this injured kitty, and I do not want to even think about the amount of spiders and bugs that I probably got in my hair in those two hours. Nor the amount of grazes I got from pushing aside thick hedges and branches. But you won’t be any help to the animal if you go and get yourself really injured too. If possible, call for help and have someone else be your wing man/woman for the task.

When handling animals you also need to be careful of the animal itself. Obviously with cats and dogs, they can give pretty nasty bites and scratches, but if it is anything else a bit more wild (such as a badger, hedgehog or deer maybe) then be especially careful. A bit of kick from one of them could seriously injure you and also runs the risk of making you quite sick it any injury gets infected. If you do not think that you can manage it safely, then do not do it. Call the RSPCA and really impress upon them that it is not safe for you to approach this animal. At least the animal rescue officers will be a) trained to deal with this and b) fully equipped to approach an animal with a lot of sharp pointy teeth. The best thing I had was a chunky batman jumper, so I was very lucky that I wasn’t clawed!

Mr Kitty managed to get himself quite nestled underneath a thick hedge. This is the only photo I could take, which I did to try and get a closer look at his legs. Even in this picture you can see they aren’t quite right…

My only issue that I really had from this, was how unhelpful most people and organisations were. The amount of passerby who just walked past and didn’t even ask what I was doing or if I needed help was shocking – although I do appreciate I must have looked like a bit of a nutter just standing in a bush shaking cat treats when no cat could actually be seen. I also get that COVID-19 is a thing, and it is a very serious thing that we should all be doing our best to prevent from spreading, but for a few of the charities and organisations that I rang to get help, this was their main excuse as to why phone lines were not open or why they were not going out to help animals unless it was a genuine emergency. I mean….if I can go into work (bearing in mind I am a paralegal, and there is ZERO emergency involved in my job) then surely these organisations can find a way to work around COVID: yes they may have to be short staffed, and the staff may be very busy, but I think that the work that these animal rescue charities do is too important to be completely shut down. That being said, the RSPCA did give a lot of useful advice over the phone, and a few of the charities near me that I rang did try their best to give me the direct numbers for some local vets or other rescue centres. So maybe it’s just the animal lover in me being a bit fussy after an emotional rescue mission!

As of this post, kitty is safe and sound at our local vets. They could not give me too much of an update on him but said that he was eating fine and was being given pain relief. They are not yet certain what is wrong with his legs or what their next step is, but will keep me updated once they have any more information. As he had no microchip, locating an owner may be difficult. If all is well with him and still no owner can be found, then he will placed for rehoming. I won’t be getting my hopes up, as there may be a chance that his legs can’t be saved, but for now I just have to wait for an update.

I shall let you know how it all goes! Please send lots of love to him and every cross your fingers that he makes it through ❤

T xxx

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