A Cool New Way To Support The RSPCA

As well as Mind - The Mental Health Charity, who I'm fund raising for over the coming months in the lead up to my trip to Mongolia next September (if you missed that, you can read about it here), I'm also a passionate supporter of a number of animal welfare charities, both here in the UK, and overseas. 

I've been raised an animal lover, I remember a childhood where our modest three bedroom house was filled with a dog, three cats, two budgerigars, two hamsters, a chinchilla, a rabbit, a guinea pig and fish, at other times there was a gerbil, two rats, a tank full of thirteen stick insects, other dogs, other cats, other fish, a pair of love birds, and a garden overflowing with wildlife. To share my home with animals is the norm for me, I couldn't imagine a life without pets, least of all raising my son in a pet-free home, and I've always taken my responsibility as pet owner seriously. 

Living in the flat as we do, a dog is out of the question, but rescue cats are another matter. Inspector Bucket came to live with us last year, after Seb and I met him at our local RSPCA rescue centre. He was five months old, and had been picked up by an RSPCA inspector as a stray. Still now we don't know his story, and unless anyone decodes the feline language - we never shall, but he's a loving, affectionate, slightly bonkers addition to our family and I certainly wouldn't be without him. 

During his time with the RSPCA, Bucket was neutered, vaccinated, and treated for fleas, worms and ticks. He was fed twice daily, provided with warm bedding, cat toys, and a clean litter tray. Keeping cats as I do, I know that these costs soon stack up, which is why animal charities are so desperate for donations. 

As arguably the country's best known animal welfare charity, the RSPCA receives 21,000 calls from the public every single week, that's 21,000 people who are concerned about the well-being of an animal, either wild or domesticated. A lot of the animals that come in to RSPCA care will require some form of veterinary attention, as they've either been neglected, abused, or injured, are orphaned, or, at the very least, will require vaccinations against future illness. 

Animal welfare in this country is improving, slowly. People are becoming better educated in animal care, and the cost of taking on a pet is better publicised, however, there has been a staggering 65% rise in animal abandonments over the last five years, probably as a result of the economic downturn and people being unable to care for pets they'd previously committed to. All too often rescue and re-homing centres are full, and simply don't have the physical space to take on any more unwanted animals, and owners become desperate. Not that this excuses the abandonment of an innocent animal, but the RSPCA and a number of other organisations are often heaving under the weight of these cases. 

Making regular donations to charity, as a monthly Direct Debit perhaps, isn't an unusual concept, and even sponsorship, such as the Dog's Trust "Sponsor a Dog" campaign, are popular ways of supporting the work of animal rescue charities. However, I was really taken with the RSPCA's new sponsorship campaign, whereby you are given the opportunity to sponsor either a "Cat Pod" or a kennel at one of the charity's re-homing centres. Your ongoing contribution goes towards keeping your pod or kennel stocked with beds, toys, food and litter, where appropriate, as well as keeping the place clean and running smoothly. The centre keep sponsors up to date with who is currently staying in their pod, what their story is, and keeps them updated on the animal's progress. I thought it was a really cool idea.

I signed up to sponsor a cat pod (of course - shameless cat lady) and very soon received a photograph and a report on my current "resident". For those who are interested - Angel is an 11 year old male tabby (which makes him "old" by a lot of people's standards and might make him difficult to re-home, so he may be hanging out in my pod for a while). Angel had been left in someone's house for a very long time, his teeth had all rotted and his mouth was full of ulcers, he was bleeding from his mouth and his gum disease was so bad that he was covered in pus. He was slowly dying of starvation, not just because he hadn't been fed, but because whatever food he may have been able to find, he couldn't eat. He also hated people, didn't play or interact, and had obviously been neglected for a very long time. 

I'm glad to let you know though, that the RSPCA have since let me know that Angel has made loads of progress in a short amount of time. In the few weeks that I've been sponsoring the cat pod that he calls home, he can now eat comfortably, despite losing lots of teeth. He now loves a tummy rub and enjoys human contact - the staff at the rescue centre now think he'll turn out a happy lap cat! How cool!

If you'd like to find out more about sponsoring a cat pod or a dog kennel, and helping the RSPCA to go on rescuing and caring for animals like my Inspector Bucket, or like Angel, then follow the link here.

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