Sanctuary Life

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Find out about the dogs, cats and four legged friends at the Pet Samaritans Animal Sanctuary in Derbyshire.

Urgent help needed with vet fees

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We’re off to the vets surgery today and urgently need help with vet fees.  We’ve struggled to keep up with vet costs recently, cats and dogs who have come in with health problems and now we have so many kittens to be vaccinated.  We have the first injections given at nine weeks old so long as the kits are up to weight.  Sometimes they are a bit small and then we wait a week or two.  We’ve found boxes of kittens at the gate when we’ve opened up,some  have come in with mum’s who were strays or abandoned, some of the young adult cats were pregnant when they arrived and gave birth here.

The kittens have two sets of injections with a three week interval in between.   When they’ve had the second they are fully vaccinated and able to mix with other cats.  If you already have a cat and are wanting to adopt a kitten it’s best to wait till they are 12 weeks old and fully protected from disease.

The kittens are also health checked when we take them to the vet.  They have their ears examined to make sure they don’t have ear mites.  It’s a common condition and easy to treat but we want to know that they are free from mites which they might pass on to someone else.   They are also given a thorough check over by the vet, including a heart test.  Some kittens have heart murmurs and wouldn’t be offered for adoption until we’ve seen if it gets worse.  Usually it’s the other way and they grow out of it.

All our kits are wormed at regular intervals and checked for fleas and treated if necessary.   At last they can have their photo taken, go on the website and be offered for adoption.  By nine weeks we have a good idea of their personality – a bold adventurer?  Or stay at home missy?   We’re looking for safe, secure and loving home for all our babies.

The vet fees have recently gone up  and as always we’re struggling.  We don’t have the vast reserves of most of the large animal shelters so it’s a financial nightmare for us.   There are the mother cats to spay when they are over their kittening too.

If you can help with even a small donation it will be very much appreciated and put the kittens on the way to adoption and a new life.   Please Paypal via the website, or send a cheque payable to Pet Samaritans – if you can do bank transfer you’ll find our bank details on the standing order form.  Let us have your address and we’ll put you a card and some lucky cat stickers in the post.

Many thanks

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Snowshoe cats come to stay

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What do you do when difficult domestic circumstances make it impossible for you to keep your cats?  This is what happened to the family of these beautiful Snowshoe Cats – fortunately when they contacted us having tried just about everywhere,  we just had room to take them in.

They are beautiful cats, a full pedigree brother and sister.  It’s a big upheaval for them but they are friendly and affectionate and Snowshoe cats are known to have a docile temperament.   It’s a rare breed of cat, from America and with distinctive colouring based on seal point and with the distinctive white feet – the ‘snowshoes’.   They are known for their intelligence, which, in cats, usually makes for an entertaining lifestyle!

The Snowshoe cats are born white and get their colour and markings after a few weeks.    Their coat is short and smooth so not much grooming is required.  The breed originated in America from litters of unusually marked kittens.  It took many years for these uniquely coloured cats to be recognised as a breed.  There is now a Snowshoe Cat Club.

Our new Snowshoe cat residents are called Rooney and Lola, he is the more outgoing of the two, she is still a bit shy but it’s only until she gets to know us.  Both are eating well so appetite isn’t going to be a problem.

The Snowshoe Cats are fairly large in size and have a ‘chunky’ look to them.  They come in a variety of colours including lilac, chocolate, blue and fawn, the most pure bred cats have blue eyes which must be stunning.  The Snowshoe cats are sociable and gregarious and don’t like to be left alone for long periods, though this may be less of a problem when there are two of them.  Like most cats they like company and to know you are on hand for a cuddle or a snack.

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Welcome to the pygmy hedgehogs

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Pygmy hedgehogs – it was a domestic emergency and a new home had to be found straight away for four African Pygmy Hedgehogs.  We were delighted to be able to step in and provide sanctuary for them.  We’ve not had these, still quite rare, domesticated hedgehogs before so it’s giving us a chance to get to know them.

There’s a male (shown above) and three young ladies and they’ve all been captive bred.  No return to the wild for these little ones, it would be doubtful that they would survive.  They are about half the size of our wild hedgehogs and very dainty, they need careful looking after and to be kept at an even and fairly warm temperature.

Like most hedgehogs they are solitary creatures and do their own thing.  Usually we like animals to have company, another of their own kind, but this doesn’t apply to our  spiny friends.  They don’t make friends and only meet up at mating time.

They can be accommodated in a hutch or specially made house and would need to be kept indoors or a sheltered environment unless the weather is warm. Ours all have a separate hutch and a large attached compound.  They would certainly have to be inside in winter.  If the temperature drops they will try to hibernate.

Feeding them is the same as a normal hedgehog, smaller portions though and make sure they have some mealworms on offer every day.  The tiny skeletons provide them with the minerals they need to thrive.  It’s important to make sure they have plenty of exercise so they don’t put on too much weight – toys, a wheel which they love and plenty of opportunity for free exercise in a secure compound keeps them slim and healthy.

We’re starting to handled these little beauties and hope to have them tame soon.   Food is the key to a hedgehog’s heart – sunflower seeds anyone?

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Dronfield Junior School Visit

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The children from Dronfield Junior School and their teacher Mrs. Ford came to visit us last week and met some of our residents. They saw birds, hedgehogs and a variety of the animals. It was lovely to meet the girls and boys and a great afternoon, they were well behaved, interested in everything and very enthusiastic. It’s part of our efforts to provide education about animals, their needs and lifestyles – many of the children had never seen a hedgehog so there were a lot of oohs! and aah’s!

The school charity group also helps to raise funds for us and we are very grateful for their continued support. Many thanks to Mrs. Ford who organised the trip and staff who helped bring the children to see us.

Close call for baby crow

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T his baby crow can’t fly or feed himself yet.  He was seen in a local park at the weekend and was still there the next day with  no parents in sight.   The magpies had found him though and were dive-bombing, they would kill and eat a young crow without any hesitation.  Is this why it’s war between adult crows and magpies?

As soon as this little chap (we’ve called him Parker)  came in we had to feed him, he was so hungry he couldn’t wait.  It’s good that he has such a will to eat and live, it’s when they don’t want to feed that we have trouble rearing them.

A crow is one of the most intelligent of birds with the same level of knowledge as a seven year old child.   We have three other crows in at the present time, they have all been injured and are waiting to heal before being released.  They have to be kept in a small space to give their wings chance to heal.

Ricky, the tame rook we released earlier this year, doesn’t like to see the crows shut up.   He’s still around and comes to see us most days, spending a lot of time roosting in a tall tree near the kennels and watching out for magpies.  He chases them away as soon as he sees them.

Ricky is keenly interested in the injured birds.  Last week he flew down to the top of their huts and began caw-ing to them.  They were very excited and seemed to think that ‘super bird’ had arrived.   Then he began trying to undo the bolts and let them out.   He could easily undo the fastener on his aviary but that was to amuse himself and us.  At that stage he didn’t want to leave.

We’ve had to put ‘Ricky-proof’ fasteners on the hut doors, when the crows are better we’ll let him release them and they can all fly off together.

Celebrate the solstice

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Our dogs enjoyed their walks today, if they want to stay out and howl at the moon tonight it’s because this is a special day.  It’s Midsummer Day, the turn of the seasons, the longest day of the year. It’s when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest and animals and birds, who are more in tune with the Earth’s energy, are susceptible to this influence.

We’ve known dogs to be more restless and cats more alert when this tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun.   We’ve certainly had more difficulty than usual in getting the cats in for the night today!   If the evening isn’t cloudy and the moon can be seen it will be worth seeing.  It’s a rare occurrence today when the full moon is on the solstice making it what’s called a Strawberry Moon.  It’s super low in the sky which makes it a soft amber colour – the original Honey Moon!

After today the days will be getting shorter, although this is almost imperceptible for most of the summer.  You won’t see the next Strawberry Moon until 2061 – it’s a rare occurrence, make the most of it.  Make a wish?

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Fly on to heaven

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Sadly, this isn’t the heron we rescued, it’s what we would have wished for him.  Our bird was humanely euthanised, he’d been shot and the leg couldn’t be saved.  We did the kindest thing for him and put him out of his misery.  Thanks to the man who found him in the reeds and brought him in, at least he wasn’t left to have a slow or painful end.  Such a beautiful bird, wish we could have had a happy ending.

Is fish good for cats

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Most cats love eating a fishy dinner, gentle poached in a bit of milk, it’s delicious, soft and slips down easily.  Tinker, a recent resident, would have a saucer of fish bits every day if he could.  It’s a natural food after all, what could be wrong with that?

In moderation, fish is fine for cats, it’s a valuable food but too much and your cat could be in trouble.  Raw fish is a definite no-no, it has an enzyme which can cause vitamin B1 deficiency.  This would cause cats to have neurological problems, circling and falling over would be symptoms as would tilting the head on one side.   Raw isn’t so popular anyway.

Too much tuna can cause thiamine and vitamin E deficiencies.   Symptoms of the latter and the cat won’t want to move or be touched.  If your cat suffers from any of these bizarre conditions it might simply be a dietary cause.  Cut down on the fishy suppers and check with your vet, it might be the only treatment needed.

Like everything in life, moderation is the key, indulging your cat a few times a week with a saucer of sardines, white fish or whatever he likes, won’t hurt.  We like to feed fresh cooked, it only takes a few minutes in the microwave and the cheaper varieties are excellent value.

Injured heron brought in

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We’ve had an injured heron brought in today.  He’s a beautiful bird, a grey heron which is native in the U.K.   He has a bad injury to his leg so we’re not sure that he can be saved.  He can stand up but we’ll see what the vet says.  The most important thing is to do what’s best for the bird.

Herons are widespread throughout most of the world, except for polar regions.   They eat all kinds of water creatures and are carnivores – meat eaters.   They are unusual in the way that they hunt which is by standing motionless.  When you see a heron standing in shallow water and he isn’t moving, he’ll be watching out for something to come by and then, like lightning, he pounces and that long sharp beak spears his dinners.   I’ve often watched herons catching rats on river banks.   Nothing happens for ten minutes then Mr.Rat ventures out and in a second he’s caught, tossed up in the air and swallowed whole!

We’re hoping this heron can be saved and recover to go back to his life on the riverbank.

Lillie to the vet

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Lillie came in to us some months ago.  She had been running around on a building site, a stray who was in very poor condition.  She’s a young cat and usually they pick up quite quickly.  Lillie was pregnant when she came in but her single kitten was born dead.  It took a while for her to get over this, she is a sensitive and hardly more than a kitten herself.

When she pulled round and began putting weight on the vet agreed that she was well enough to be spayed and this was done.  She’s a lovely affectionate little girl and we began the adoption process hoping to find her a good home.   So far, this hasn’t worked out – Lillie takes one look at prospective adopters and says ‘no way’!  She won’t go to strangers and clings to us so it looks as though she will be staying until she becomes more socialized.

Another problem has arisen over the past few days.  When she came in she was covered in dirt and dust – looked more like a black cat than a white one.  Her ears in particular where really dirty.   We cleaned them up and over the weeks have put cream on them and the vet has seen them a couple of times.  White cats and ears?   Always worrying and we wondered if she’d had some sunburn in the past. Sunscreen is advised if you have a cat with white skin on the head and face especially if it’s thin as Lillie’s is.

We took her back to the vet this week as her ears have suddenly become sore again.   The bad news is that it could be cancer.   Hopefully it isn’t and we have cream to put on for the time being.  If the broken skin doesn’t heal more investigation is needed and it’s back to the vets.  Poor baby.