LATEST ADDITIONS: SOME OF OUR NEWCOMERS
We often have new animals coming in. Although we don't go out looking for them, somehow they manage to find us. These are the stories of a few of the most recent additions.
Mia is one of those cases that tug hard at your heart strings. She was found wandering at the age of about six months, blind, her eyes shrunken and terribly scarred. No one claimed her and there was nowhere for her to go... even after intensive advertising no one wanted her, so she came to Nyanza.
During the day she lives in one of our large cat enclosures and in the evening she comes up to join us in the house for the night.
She is extremely brave and very clever. Watching her as she moves around you would never believe she is blind. Her favourite time is when she goes out on her harness and lead for a walk. She loves to climb the trees and fence poles and will race along the top of the school fence, defying her lack of sight.
After she had been with us a short time one of her eyes started giving problems and had to be removed. She worried at the stitches and so had to wear a collar to prevent her removing them. With the collar she lost the proper use of her ears and whiskers and was lost; it is the only time she has actually looked like a blind cat.
Already she has grown into a beautiful young lady. She is proud and fiercely independent and brings a lump to your throat as she boldly explores. She hates to feel babied. The other animals all gravitate towards her, gentle and curious in their approach. She and Winta the Australian Cattle Dog, have a very special relationship and spend hours playing together.
Socks is a stray that came to our farmhouse early one morning with a snare round his neck. The snare was made out of steel wire but somehow he had managed to snap it and get away. In his struggle to get away he had pulled the noose deep into his neck. It was deeply embedded and badly infected. We managed to get it off but he was very sick from the infection and his throat must have been very sore; it took him days to start eating again. After convalescing in our sick bay for a while to get his strength back he joined the rest of our group. Already he is thriving on all the attention and is becoming a friendly and affectionate cat. He has a big proud walk and as he strides around with his huge paws padding quietly it is like having our own resident tiger on the farm.
HAPPY TWO SOCKS
Happy Two Socks was found semi-conscious on the roadside one rainy night. He had been run over and left for dead. Luckily for him Ann spotted him and stopped to check if he was alive or not. We brought him home and treated him although we doubted he would survive. Somehow he pulled through and as he came back to life we discovered he had some bad memories and associations; somewhere in his past life had been very difficult for him. A collar pulling on his neck would cause him to thrash around in a frenzy, and the mere sound of a light chain chinking would send him into a panic. Sudden movements made him flinch and cower in a corner. Unthinkingly picking up a ball to throw for him to fetch had him running in fear you were going to throw it at him. He had a host of 'triggers' that would upset him and if you weren't careful and inadvertently made the wrong move all your progress gaining his confidence would go backwards again.
We have worked hard with him and today Happy Two Socks is a healthy and cheerful smiling dog. He walks confidently on a lead and loves 'his' people and any dog-loving newcomers, as long as they show tact in their initial introductions. If a new person feels pity for him and tries too hard to be friendly, he is suspicious; he can't understand or relate to what they are doing. Sadly he must have hunted before, and there is the possibility of him going after the cats, so at the moment he lives in a large enclosure and goes out walking with the other dogs on a leash. We have to find him a good home where there are no cats. He is a lovely dog and for the right owner he is going to make a truly loyal and protective companion.
Kaci looks as if he possibly has some kind of Siamese or Burmese blood in his background. He was handed in to Animal Welfare when his owners re-located to South Africa. We saw him advertised on the poster but were not too concerned. He was young, beautiful and friendly; he should have no problem in finding a forever home. The days went past however and he was still there. Then we heard he had been adopted and breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately it was short lived; his new people were first time cat owners, unwise to wily cats and he escaped as soon as he got to his new home. Luckily after he had been roaming the streets for days they managed to trap him again and returned him to Welfare, feeling he was too feisty for them and electing to take a quieter calmer cat instead.
Once again he was sitting at his gate waiting forlornly for someone to come. Sadly even someone as beautiful as him was not taken. Welfare cats days are limited as there are only so many spaces available for the unwanted ones and if they are not adopted within a certain time they face a lethal injection. We had just lost a much beloved dog to lymphoma and had the excuse of a vacancy... his time was fast running out and we could not resist any longer. We can't take them all but this one was somehow special. He was waiting at the gate when we went to fetch him, purring as we picked him up, with a look on his face as if to say 'What took you so long?'
He had lost weight during his escapades on the streets and was a bit unsure at the beginning but quickly realised this time he was here to stay. As soon as his quarantine period was up he was out and about, doing his rounds of the farm and acting as if he had lived here all his life. Every time we look at him and hear that big purr he rewards us for saving his life. As the saying goes, those who say money can't buy happiness have never paid an adoption fee.
Lambada the lamb was born on a neighbouring farm belonging to some friends of ours. One of a pair of twins, her mother chose the other one and rejected her before she had had a chance to even suckle once. Fortunately her owners were vigilant and noticed. We had frozen colostrum that we keep for emergencies with the cows which proved to be good for sheep as well as cattle. Lambada came here to live with us and hasn't looked back. After her initial surprise at finding a lamb in her stable, 'Auntie Sheepish' has adopted her and loves her company, hovering over her like a mother. We had a bad moment when some unscrupulous people came and tried to claim her as their own, no doubt planning a meal of lamb chops, but luckily we were able to prove she did not belong to them and thwarted their plans. She is fast becoming a favourite with the children, who all love to help with the duties of raising her.
THE GINGER CAT
The ginger cat does not have a name yet as he has only just arrived here a short time ago. He was discovered in a very bad way by Ann and a friend when they were at a restaurant recently. They were sitting outside to eat and he arrived at their table so desperately hungry he was eating the lettuce from their salad. He was dehydrated and starving, so thin there was only skin and bone; his body felt like a dried out skeleton. They brought him home to Nyanza.
We have treated his ticks and fleas, dewormed and vaccinated him and begun the process of bringing him back to life as it should be lived for a cat. He is eating well although we have to resist the temptation to overfeed him in an effort to make up for lost time. Even though he is no longer a kitten but rather a young adult he still weighs less than two kilograms; it is like picking up a frail bird when you handle him. It feels as if he will blow over in the wind.
The change in his coat within just a couple of days shows just how dehydrated he was; it is already losing the terribly harsh look it had. After a few days he also started to clean himself again. When he came he was too weak; now he is starting to take pride in himself once more.
From his origins he was used to being around people, but wasn't accustomed to being handled and shied away from our touch. He is fast learning to trust us however from watching the other cats and has developed quite a voice on him, letting us know in no uncertain terms that he would like food and company 'now please'. He shows every sign of becoming yet another character to enrich our lives.
The ginger cat is an example of how people can actually make a difference. Some of the businesses, factories and restaurants around us have begun a program of trapping, vaccinating and neutering their feral cats. They then release them again. This thereby provides them with healthy resident cats whose population is under control and prevents them from creating hundreds of feral cats to become a problem and a health risk. In return these cats will keep away unknown and possibly unhealthy strays, plus they get a team of avid hunters to control their rodents without having to resort to poisons which are dangerous and harmful to the environment. It is still important however to provide them with some food to keep them in good physical condition; a cat will always hunt from instinct while a weak one cannot, and a strong healthy cat has the ability to kill thousands of rats in its lifetime.
If only everyone did this there would not be the sad situations like the ginger cat was found in. When the owner of the restaurant where he was found was asked if they were being fed, the answer was 'we were but then there were lots so we stopped'. There was not even water provided for them, other than trying to drink from the swimming pool without falling in. The condition he was in the ginger cat was incapable of going off to look for water, let alone catching a rat. He would not have lived much longer if he had not been picked up by Ann and her friend.
UPDATE ON THE GINGER CAT; 6 WEEKS LATER
The ginger cat has now been named Clarence... he has put on a good amount of weight and his coat is becoming soft and glossy. He has lost his crouched stance and is strong enough to stand up tall. As his strength comes he is growing in confidence and now happily climbs to the higher parts of his enclosure. We are keeping him in until he has put on a bit more weight as he still does not have enough weight on him for the anaesthetic for castration. As well as this his during his first few days out he will have to meet the other cats and we want him to feel physically capable when he does.
He does have the cutest face...