Rabbit Care Day at the SAA

Did you know that a group of rabbits is known as a ‘colony’ or ‘nest’?

Well it was definitely a big nest of bunnies who descended upon the farm on Sunday, 29th September. Large, small, brown, white, pointy ears and floppy ears… and all of them, and their owners, enjoying the unexpected Autumn sunshine.


A total of 18 rabbits were vaccinated thanks to a local vet, and many more received free health checks from the SAA animal care staff. Volunteers were on hand to provide advice on everything from grooming to bunny toys and hutches. There were even poo samples to show what a good or bad diet can do to a rabbit’s health.


The barbeque and refreshments stall was, as always, very popular, with people enjoying vegetarian soup, tomato pastries, and lots of cakes – all brought by volunteers.

Whilst the buns relaxed in the Rabbit Sitting service, their owners could enjoy many different rabbit-themed games, including Guess My Name,  Drop a Penny on the Bunny Nose, and rabbit toy tombola.


Lots of rabbits – and their owners! – received care and attention, and all the money raised will go towards looking after the other rabbits, cats and dogs in the SAA’s care until they can find their own families.

None of this could be possible without the hard work of the SAA volunteers. If you’d like to help out at a future event, whether it’s with raffle prizes, cakes, or manning a stall, email office@saarescue.co.uk. And don’t forget, whether you have a rabbit of your own or not, you can support the SAA bunnies through our sponsorship program.

For more info on upcoming events, check out the Events Page above or like us on Facebook.


Tippi the three legged cat

Tippi the kitten came to us through an acquaintance of Lorna, one of our volunteers. He had heard that she fostered cats and kittens for the Society and hoped she would be able to help. The man had a stray cat turn up in his garden and gave birth to a litter of kittens in his shed. Wanting to do the right thing, he took the feline family in and began to look for homes for the kittens. His children had become attached to the mother and they decided to keep her.

The only problem was the little black female kitten with a deformed leg, probably due to her umbilical cord wrapping round the leg and stopping the circulation. She had a stump, just below the first joint; the leg was about half the length it should be. His vet advised that the leg should be amputated at six months, when she would be ready for spaying at the same time. The man was having difficulty finding a new owner who would be willing to take on a kitten requiring such an expensive procedure and he did not feel that he could keep her himself. It was decided that she would be admitted to the Sanctuary’s care until a new home could be found, possibly until after she had the surgery. As she was only nine weeks, she went into foster care with Lorna.


After a week it was evident that she could not wait until she was six months for the surgery as the stump was constantly raw and bled because she was trying to walk on it. It also affected her ability to go to the toilet as it caused her pain to squat, and litter of any kind hurt her raw stump. Therefore, the Sanctuary’s vet decided to do the surgery at 13 weeks, spaying her at the same time so that she didn’t have to go through another anaesthetic at a later date. This decision would ultimately save her life.


During the operation a large blood clot was found in her abdomen, which was traced back to a tear in her spleen, which had to be removed. The damage was usually consistent with some kind of trauma, such as a kick or road accident. It is a mystery as to how she had this injury as she was closely monitored in foster care and when speaking to the man who originally had her he could not recall anything of note. The vet said it could have been bleeding for a number of weeks – we will never know when it happened or how. We do know that any slight bump or fall during the time it was bleeding could have been fatal. It’s a good job we didn’t wait until she was six months old for the surgery!


Recovery was slow and for the first few days she would not eat and everyone was really worried. Various foods were tried to get her to eat, from tuna to custard. When she finally ate a small amount of chicken we knew she had turned the corner. She also began to go to the toilet normally, without the frustration and wailing that accompanied it before. She had to then endure the annoyance of a Buster Collar for ten days to stop her from biting her many stitches.


There was relief all round when the stitches came out and she could then begin to enjoy being a kitten again and she hasn’t looked back.

During all this Lorna and her husband became especially attached to her and decided to break their rule of not adopting any of their foster felines. Tippi has become a permanent member of their furry family.

And an explanation of the name: on the evening she arrived Lorna and her family watched Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ starring Tippi Hedren, a great animal rights campaigner. A perfect name for a kitten who tips over!


Reiki for Rescue Cats

Some of our cats relaxing


At the SAA caring for cats isn’t just about feeding, watering and emptying their litter trays. It’s also about socialising, playing and grooming. We have scratching posts and toys in every pen and regularly have volunteers who spend time with the cats, brushing them and giving them the much needed love and attention many of them crave.


But it turns out that some of our volunteers have been giving the cats some extra special attention, using their skills to harness energy to calm and comfort the cats. They’ve been performing cat reiki!

Three reiki healers have been lending their skills to the cats of the SAA; Jean, Janet and Lorraine.

Janet performing reiki

With a sleepy looking kitten on her lap, Janet explains what reiki is: “Reiki is a non-intrusive hands-on energy healing technique. When the energy in the human body becomes blocked and unable to flow as it normally would, it eventually leads to illness in some form. As the Reiki energy flows through the body, it helps break down energetic blockages allowing life force to flow naturally throughout the mind, body and soul.”

But what’s this got to do with cats? Janet says cats, like people, can suffer from blocked energy; particularly when they’ve been through a stressful experience as many of our cats have been.

Janet gathering energy

To help restore their energy flow Janet sits with the cats, projecting her mental energy onto them. This can be passed on either hands-on through the form of stroking or by pushing the energy flow towards them if they’re a little shy.

Janet says: “The cats sense an increase in energy and respond to that. I try to channel the energy from the surroundings although this can be tricky with so many cats in one place. Some cats respond very well to the energy in the environment but when there are lots of cats together there can be too much energy. It’s been quite a challenge learning how best to channel the energy in the re-homing centre.

Janet continues: “All the cats respond differently. Some fall asleep whilst others get really hungry. One of the cats, Alfie, has changed a lot. He used to scratch me when I performed the reiki but now he sits and licks my face! So I guess he must be enjoying it!”

Feeling energetic after a reiki session

As well as our cats that need new homes Janet also treats the feral cats to a spot of reiki, although this is purely hands off as even an energy master can’t get close to our wild friends!

Away from the sanctuary Janet also practices on humans, although she says pets often muscle in on a reiki session, pinching some of the healing energy meant for their owner!

Two of our cats looking for homes

If you want to find out more about reiki you can find Janet at: www.naturaltherapypages.co.uk/rainbow

Or pop down to the sanctuary to see our cats, they’re always grateful to see a friendly face. With Christmas coming up any spare cat toys, scratching posts and cat food in jelly would certainly go down a treat.

Playing on a giant scratching post

Rise in Rehoming Despite Recession

The number of animals being offered new homes is increasing at the Society for Abandoned Animals despite the tough economic times.

The rehoming figures for dogs, cats and rabbits are up by around 25% compared to this time last year, which is good news as more animals are being admitted to the sanctuary on a daily basis.

So far this year 13 dogs, 162 cats and 36 rabbits have found new homes after coming into the SAA’s care for a variety of reasons. This time last year, just 111 cats had been offered new homes.

Natasha with two new kittens

The Sanctuary Manager, Natasha Woest, is delighted with the figures: “We’re really pleased that more people across South Manchester are choosing to adopt abandoned animals. Our priority is to ensure the animal will fit in with a new owner’s lifestyle and we can also offer a wealth of advice about caring for a new pet.”

Earlier this year the sanctuary opened its newly refurbished kennels which has boosted the number of dogs the charity can care for.

Natasha says: “We’re delighted that we can offer sanctuary to more dogs as there are so many animals that need our care. We take in animals for all sorts of reasons and with more people needing to downsize or rent we’re taking in pets at an increasing rate. It’s good news for all our supporters and hardworking volunteers that these unwanted animals are finding good homes.”

The support of volunteers has been vital to the SAA’s rehoming success. A big rise in kittens has put pressure on the foster carers as many of the young animals need to be fed by hand several times a day. So far this year 177 cats have been admitted to the SAA, alongside 11 dogs and 49 rabbits.

Caring for that many animals takes time and costs a lot of money. The SAA has been finding new ways to raise money through selling items on Ebay and sponsored challenges. On the 1st September volunteer Darren Richardson walked 60 miles from the sanctuary to Blackpool dressed as a giant dog! Seven volunteers will also be taking on the London to Brighton cycle ride in aid of the SAA on the 16th September.

Closer to home there are always opportunities to donate or pop in to see the charity and take a look at the animals. Our next event is a party to celebrate what would have been the 99th birthday of the charity’s founder Peggy Henderson on the 8th September at the Chorlton Irish Club from 8pm.

Tickets for Peggy’s Birthday Bash cost £10 in advance and £12 on the door. People should email office@saarescue.co.uk to buy them in advance.

Flash Finds a Family

Flash ready for action

Earlier this year the SAA took in little Flash, who couldn’t move abroad with her new owners. They were devastated to have to leave her behind but confident the SAA could find her a new and loving home.

She was a real delight to have at the sanctuary, always bouncing around and wanting to make friends with all the volunteers and other animals and it didn’t take long for the right family to come looking for Flash.

The Miley family came to the SAA after deciding to get a rescue dog because they wanted to be able to ask for advice about finding the right pet to fit into their household. Ellie says she’d wanted a dog since she was little and had finally persuaded her parents that it would be a good idea.

Ellie with Flash

“We thought it would be best to get a rescue dog so we could ask about information because we have cats. We wanted to make sure that the animals would all get on with each other.”

On their first visit to the sanctuary the family said they were really impressed with the dedication of the staff and volunteers who were all really friendly. They say it was clear the animals were loved and cared for and were really excited to meet the dogs looking for homes.


Flash in her winter coat

Ellie says: “As soon as we saw Flash we fell in love with her. When Shirley brought out the two little dogs, Flash and Terry, Flash was so quiet and calm. We had a good feeling that her and the cats would get along.”

After a home visit and a lot of good advice from the SAA the Mileys were ready to bring Flash home. Ellie says the cats got a bit of a shock but they have now got used to having Flash around!

“Flash has been a little angel, we couldn’t have asked for a better dog as she has the most wonderful temperament. She has settled in really well and become a very special part of our family.”

Flash settling in at home

Flash does have her amusing moments, particularly when the window cleaner comes and she enjoys barking at him! She’s also made friends with the donkeys on the moors at the back of the family’s house as she thinks they’re big dogs! Closer to home Flash looks really cute chasing her balloons and playing with her squeaky toys. Ellie says she’s trying to teach Flash to dance which is proving to be an amusing task!

Flash fits in to the family

At the SAA we’ve really enjoyed seeing the photos of Flash enjoying her new life with this loving family who’ve given her a second chance at a happy life. The Mileys say their experience with Flash means they’d always recommend that people look at adopting an abandoned animal rather than buying a new pet.

Flash enjoying the sunshine

They were impressed with the way staff at the SAA really got to know the animals and how they were really careful to make sure they would fit in with family life. They say the adoption process was simple and swift and they’ve loved being able to provide such a secure and cat filled home for Flash!

Cuddly Cats Gaining Confidence

The boys asleep

This week’s blog is dedicated to a pair of cuddly cats called Charlie and Chaplin. Like their namesake they love to fool around and play with their toys, although they weren’t like that when they first arrived.

We took over caring for Charlie and Chaplain in March as their owner wasn’t able to look after them. They spent two weeks living in our Sanctuary Manager’s office. Natasha spent hours with them, even getting into their pen to stroke Chaplain who was too scared to move or eat. He needed constant reassurance and a lot of love.

Cuddling cats

Charlie responded very well to our efforts but it still took several weeks before he was confident enough to play with the toys we gave him. Chaplain is still a shy chap but he’s been getting bolder every day.

Natasha says “We’ve seen them grow in confidence. They are truly loving cats who just crave attention and love”.

Charlie and Chaplain are now in the main cat rehoming area in their own pen. They can often be seen with their paws wrapped around each other when asleep. Chaplain’s white paws mark him out from Charlie so we know which is which. The sound of a tinkling bell can also be heard from their pen as Charlie loves chasing his balls with bells in!

Whilst it’s not unusual for our volunteers to fall in love with the cats these two Casanovas have captured the hearts of everyone at the sanctuary. They’re affection for each other as well as anyone who comes near their pen is heart-warming.

Charlie and Chaplain waking up

One of our volunteers Jordan summed up the pair by saying: “Charlie and Chaplin would make the most wonderful pets; not only are they incredibly handsome, they are also affectionate, playful purring machines! These boys have everything going for them, and I have no doubt that with a stable, loving home their confidence will grow, with them becoming even more loveable (if that’s even possible!).”

So if you think you could give a quiet loving home to these affectionate fluffy balls of ginger love then contact the sanctuary to arrange a visit. Call the office on 0161 973 5318 every day between 12:00 and 4:30pm except on Wednesdays when we’re closed.

Lots of love needed here

Why a lick on the head made Lorna love cats!

Meet Lorna Quinlan, one of our volunteers.

Lorna with one of our rescue cats

Lorna has been with the SAA for about a year and has been helping us care for the many cats that we look after.

She decided to follow her dream of working with animals after spending several years in the financial sector. She took a job that allowed her to spend a day a week volunteering. Fortunately for us Lorna already knew about the SAA as she’d adopted cats from us before. So she got in touch and offered to volunteer with us.

“Everyone was really friendly when I first started volunteering. It was like joining a big family where we’re all working towards the same goal to care for animals. The training I received was really good and it was even better when they let me get on with the job when they could see I knew what I was doing.”

Lorna dishing out breakfast

Every Thursday Lorna cleans out the cats. Her day starts with cat food for breakfast – not her breakfast of course! Lorna says if you don’t feed the cats before cleaning the pens then they make so much fuss it’s impossible to clean them. When all the cats have been fed they calm down and many of them have a quick cat nap.

When the cats are settled she changes their litter trays and cleans out their pens. Lorna says this is often the most unglamorous part of the job, wiping up spilt food, poos and even the odd spot of cat sick.

“You have to come into volunteering with an open mind. Unfortunately you don’t get to play with cute kittens every day. You do have to deal with some messy cats and then there are the ones that take a violent dislike to you!”

But cleaning the pens isn’t all bad. Lorna recalls the cat that used to sit on its chair licking her head as she brushed out its pen. She was so touched by its affection that she had to adopt it.

Sweeping out the pens

Whilst most days at the SAA are uneventful Lorna does recall one morning when she thought one of the cats had escaped. She had gone to get more food for them and when she returned to the pens one cat had vanished! She went in and checked it wasn’t hiding anywhere, calling out its name and panicking about how it could have got out. Eventually a staff member popped her head round the door and said the cat had been taken to the vets!

Waking up the cats

As most of the cats at the SAA are very friendly Lorna said one of her biggest concerns was being upset when cats she had got close to were adopted. But she says was surprised how delighted she always feels when a reserved sign appears on a cat’s pen as she knows it will be moving on to a better life.

After cleaning out the cats Lorna helps with our donations, picking out items to sell on ebay to raise money for the SAA. She’s also going to be helping out on reception on Saturdays.

Lorna says she feels very honoured to be part of the work the SAA does, caring for abandoned animals and finding loving homes for cats, dogs and rabbits. She finds her work with the charity very rewarding and far more furry than finance! She says anyone thinking of volunteering or looking to work with animals should consider the SAA. Just a few hours a week makes a massive difference to the lives of hundreds of animals.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the SAA then please check out the volunteering page on our website www.saarescue.co.uk or call the office on 0161 973 5318 between 12 and 16:30. Alternatively you can email our volunteer co-ordinator Aimee at aimeennis@saa.eclipse.co.uk

Charlie and Chaplin asleep in their clean pen