Piper the cat was found at the base of a nine-storey apartment building in late February with injuries suggesting she fell from a balcony. When council rangers brought her to the Home, it was clear she needed immediate vet attention.
Physical examinations, blood tests, x-rays and an ultrasound revealed Piper had subcutaneous emphysema (air in her chest and under her skin), bruising along her belly, a graze on her chin and damage to her liver.
Piper required urgent overnight care with a specialist, so we sent her to Sydney Veterinary Emergency and Specialists (SVES) where she was put on IV fluids, pain relief and antibiotics.
Repeat blood tests and monitoring overnight revealed Piper’s health concerns including her subcutaneous emphysema and liver trauma were temporary and resolved with time and medication.
While Piper was receiving treatment at SVES, Sydney Dogs & Cats Home Animal Care Manager Dr Renae Jackson was determined to find Piper’s owners. Renae printed some lost posters and plastered them all over the apartment building where Piper was found. Within 24 hours, Piper’s owners contacted the Home to reclaim her and cover the costs of her medical treatment.
It’s now over two months since Piper’s fall, and we’re pleased to reports she has completely recovered and is getting back to her active self. There’ll be no more balcony adventures for her in the future.
Injuries like those sustained by Piper are one of the many reasons we recommend for apartment cats to be kept inside, away from open balconies. Renae notes, “Cats and open balconies can be a very dangerous mix. Usually, cats who fall from balconies have a fractured jaw, their bladder may burst, their diaphragm may rupture or they may have broken bones. Piper was lucky not to have any of these.
We recommend for all apartment cats to be indoor cats. Cats are very agile and they can slip, be startled or try to chase a passing bird, which can have disastrous consequences on an open balcony. A fully enclosed balcony is great, but if you don’t have one you can still give your cat a great quality of life indoors by providing lots of enrichment like toys, hiding areas, scratching posts and cat trees.”
Stewy was one of the most anxious dogs our animal attendants had ever met. He was terrified of every noise and movement. When people came to see him in his kennel he’d freeze and stare or hide in his crate. He refused to leave the driveway to go for a walk.
It’s not clear what happened in Stewy’s past to make him so anxious, but when he came into our care in October 2020, our team was determined to transform his future.
Our animal attendants worked with Stewy every day to earn his trust, keeping him company in his kennel and giving him treats when he was brave and accepted a pat or came onto the street.
Progress was slow, but over time, Stewy formed bonds with animal attendants and volunteers and started showing his affectionate side, cuddling with them and jumping in excitement when they came to say hello. He started coming into the courtyard every afternoon for playtime and went home with staff on the weekends.
Once Stewy was confident with select people, we introduced him to a friendly dog and discovered he loves canine company. We paired him with other dog residents to play, and occasionally, they would encourage him to go for a walk.
We saw huge improvements in Stewy, but after three months in our care, it was clear he wasn’t suited to the shelter environment and needed to find a home away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
We contacted Dunroamin Animal Rescue in southern NSW who have previously rehomed some of our dogs who need a country home. They had a space ready for Stewy with one of their foster carers.
SDCH animal attendant Natalie, who had formed a close bond with Stewy, drove him five hours south, where Dunroamin picked him up for his new life. Natalie said, “there were some tears shed!”
Stewy went into a foster home with Dianna where progress was slow. There were sleepless nights, but Dianna never once gave up on Stewy. After hearing about how he responded to other canines, she borrowed a friend’s dog and we’re told that worked a treat on his confidence.
But Stewy’s new doggy friend couldn’t stay forever, so Dunroamin sent one of their dogs into foster with Stewy and he’s thrilled with his new friend.
Not long ago, Dianna adopted Stewy! Stewy may never be a dog who is confident in a busy setting, but with his new understanding and patient owner, we’re confident he’s going to have a very comfortable life!
We had a very heartwarming and unusual adoption in March, where Narla the Staffy (previously Jane) was reunited with her family after being lost for nine months!
In June last year, Narla was staying with a family friend and their dogs on the Central Coast while her owner Tammie and her husband were relocating to QLD. One day Narla and her canine friends got out and went missing. Her friends made it back home, but Narla couldn’t be found.
Nine months later, Tammie’s friend was looking to adopt a dog and noticed there was a Staffy with a striking resemblance to Narla on our website, with the same scar across her face. When Tammie saw the picture, she was certain it was her long-lost dog.
Tammie was eager to bring Narla home, so she booked a flight to fly her to QLD. When Narla touched down and was reunited with Tammie and her husband, it was clear she missed her family – her whole body started to wiggle!
Narla has since made herself at home in QLD and is back into the swing of things with her Chihuahua and English Staffy siblings. Tammie said, “it was like they’d never been apart.” She really enjoys her trips to the beach to run in the water and play with her canine companions. After lots of playtime at the Home, she’s also formed a new love of toy balls!
When Milo was brought in by a council ranger at only 10-weeks-old, he was terrified. He would hide behind bowls and boxes when approached and would completely freeze when handled.
After health checks, Milo was sent straight into foster care with our Reception Team Leader Kylie to help minimise stress. Kylie quickly noticed he would come out of his shell when he heard her other cat vocalise. Milo would even talk back!
“He started purring when he saw my cat,” Kylie said.
“We persevered with my cat who didn’t really like him, but whenever he walked into the room, Milo came forward and was a different kitten. He would eat in front of me, give slow blinks and reach his paw out to touch my cat.”
Shortly after Milo went into foster care, a kitten named Roro arrived at the Home. Roro was playful and confident – a perfect influence for Milo. So Milo and Roro were introduced and sent into a foster home with Karin, one of our experienced carers.
Karin was a perfect fit, as she already has a laidback, confident cat named Mia, who she adopted from the Home a year prior.
For the first two weeks, Milo seemed a bit confused about the concept of toys and playtime. But with Roro and Mia there to show him the ropes, he’s come to love batting around his jingle balls.
After over two months in foster care, Milo transformed from a scaredy-cat who was terrified of people to a young man who enjoys being picked up and held. Most of all, he loves playing with his foster sibling Roro.
Milo and Roro went up for adoption as a bonded pair and found the perfect home! They were adopted on 19 April by one of our long-term foster carers who is studying to be a vet. Milo and Roro are the family’s second and third cats from the Home, having adopted from us 11 years ago. Given their experience and knowledge of cat health and behaviour, they’re a fantastic match!
Chestnut the Staffy saved a Kelpie puppy’s life last week, after providing a blood donation to help cure the effects of rat bait poisoning.
The 10-week-old puppy named Blu had been rushed to the vet hospital next door, where they discovered she had consumed rat bait poison before she was purchased, and was suffering breathing difficulties and internal bleeding that would normally be fatal.
Blu desperately needed a blood donation, so the vet hospital made an urgent call to Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, and our vet team sent over Chestnut the Staffy.
Sydney Dogs & Cats Home Animal Care Manager Renae said it was a carefully considered decision to send Chestnut to help save Blu.
“We of course made certain that Chestnut’s health and welfare would not be compromised by donating blood and we provided all the care and support she needed to recover,” she said.
This was an unusual situation for us but we’re glad that we could help save the life of a young pup. There is a real shortage of animal blood donors so we would encourage all pet owners to consider whether their pet could donate blood and be a hero too,” she said.
Thanks to Chestnut’s blood donation, Blu has been in full health and is keeping her owner Corey on his toes with her newfound energy.
Chestnut has also recovered well and has since been happily chewing away at the veggie pigs ears kindly donated by Blu’s owner Corey.
Corey has also enquired about adopting Chestnut, but she’s had to respectfully decline as she prefers to be spoilt as the only dog in the home.
After rescuing Blu, Chestnut herself is looking to be rescued! She’s Sydney Dogs & Cats Home’s longest-standing canine resident currently in care, having arrived as a lost dog in December.
Chestnut may be short in stature, but she’s big in personality and has lots of energy for walks and adventures.
To enquire about adopting the very brave Chestnut, visit her adoption profile: https://sydneydogsandcatshome.org/animal/chestnut/
UPDATE: Chestnut was adopted in early April!
Everyone’s heard of the 12 Days of Christmas, but what about the 12 kittens of Christmas?
On 1 December 2020, a policeman arrived on our doorstep with a box of 12 tiny kittens. They had been found all alone at a local pool, underweight with an intestinal tract infection and flea infestation. Some kittens also had mild eye discharge and a sneeze. Being so small at around 4 weeks old, it was important we act fast to help the kittens, so our vet team prescribed anti-parasitic medication, eye drops and probiotics to put their tummies, eyes and skin at ease.
To ensure the kittens could be given the one-on-one attention they needed, they were sent into foster homes where they were medicated daily until their ailments were no more. Thanks to our wonderful donors, the kittens all received lots toys, blankets and beds, as well as high quality cat litter kindly provided by our sponsor Chandler Cat Litter.
Once settled, the kittens began to grow and gain weight. But for one little kitten named Noelle, her recovery wasn’t as straight forward. A few weeks after Noelle’s arrival, we received a call from her foster carer Robyn – Noelle was experiencing a hyperglycaemic attack and was lethargic and stopped eating. This is a very common condition in kittens where their blood sugar drops. Quick treatment is often the difference between life and death. Luckily, Robyn is an experienced and skilled foster carer who worked with our Foster Care Coordinator to save Noelle. Robyn administered sugar drops to the young kitten in regular intervals, and within 2.5 hours, Noelle’s sugar levels had stabilised. Robyn tells us, “it was a Christmas miracle.”
Noelle is now happy, healthy, and a little bit famous! Noelle, Oliver and Robyn appeared on Sunrise Weather with Sam Mac in December to represent the 12 kittens of Christmas, and they have since been very popular kitties.
The 12 kittens of Christmas are now available for adoption from foster care and our adoption partner PETstock. They’re looking for an indoor lifestyle and a family who can commit to giving them a home for life. Each kitten has their own unique personality:
- Mia is an independent and quiet girl who loves to play
- Andrew is a curious boy who loves his food
- Rusty is very playful and loves to explore
- Panda is confident, independent and likes to explore; she is great with cats, dogs and people
- Bear is a shy little guy who loves human attention and reassurance
- Daisy is an independent girl who loves to wrestle; when she’s had enough zoomies she likes to flop onto her humans and fall asleep
- Bonnie (bonded with Clyde) is a quiet girl who loves to have a good chat; she’s very keen on her food and has her affectionate moments
- Clyde (bonded with Bonnie) is a quiet, inquisitive guy who loves to hang out with his humans
- Noelle is confident, feisty and loves playing with feather and bell boys; she’s a lap cat and gives wonderful head bumps
- Oliver has boundless energy and loves his food; his signature move is “the meerkat nuzzle” where he stands on his back legs and nuzzles your hand
- Azrak (adopted) is playful and loves to bat around inanimate objects such as pens; he will sit on your shoulder
- Wobey likes to be picked up and follow his humans around; he loves to climb and play with his feather toys
To learn more about each of the 12 kittens of Christmas, see their adoption profiles: https://sydneydogsandcatshome.org/adopt/*
* If a kitten is listed as available from a PETstock store, please contact the store to enquire about adoption.
Colleen was beside herself with joy when she found out her cat Leo had turned up at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home. It had been eight months since her family had seen him, so for Colleen “it didn’t seem real.”
In April, Colleen moved to a new house, transporting Leo in his cat carrier. When she let him out to explore the new place, he jumped into the garden and disappeared. Leo would normally come when he was called, so Colleen wandered around calling for him every time she went outside. About five days later Leo reappeared, hiding under the caravan, but when Colleen tried to retrieve him, he ran away.
Since their old house was just down the road, Colleen visited regularly for six weeks searching for Leo, but he was no where to be found.
Then, eight months down the track, we contacted Colleen’s family with some surprising news. Leo had just arrived with a council ranger, having been picked up around Colleen’s old house. Luckily he was microchipped, making it easy for us to find his family.
As soon as Colleen heard the news, she jumped onto our website to make sure it was real. “There were a few tears,” she said.
Since Leo has returned home, he’s been readjusting to family life, including having his feline sibling back. The first day he was very timid, but by nightfall, he was already rubbing against Colleen for attention. “We’re very happy to have him home,” Colleen said.
As in Leo’s case, a microchip with contact details kept up-to-date is essential in helping to reunite lost pets with their owner, no matter how long they’ve been apart. In NSW it is a legal requirement for cats and dogs to be microchipped by 12 weeks of age and to be registered on the NSW Pet Registry.
And remember always update your pet’s microchip details when you change address, phone number or email, or transfer them to a new owner. Microchip details can be changed by contacting the NSW Pet Registry.
Mr Darcy the senior Maltese arrived at the Home as a stray with an affliction on almost every inch of his body. Immediately, our vet team noticed he was underweight with gunky eyes, dirty ears, chipped teeth and matted fur. To make things even more challenging for Mr Darcy, he also appeared to be hard of hearing and vision impaired. Despite this, he was a very friendly boy.
It was clear My Darcy needed a great deal of attention to give him a much-deserved second chance at a comfortable life, so our vet team set some appointments and sent samples to pathology to help diagnose and resolve Mr Darcy’s long list of ailments.
These issues would have been causing Mr Darcy a great deal of pain, so our team got straight to work, administering anti-parasitic treatments, cleaning and clipping his fur and nails, flushing out his infected ears, doing a scale and polish on his few remaining teeth and prescribing medications to resolve his eye, ear, anal and skin conditions.
Scans and pathology results showed Mr Darcy suffered from:
- chronic skin disease (dermatitis)
- dry eye (inability to produce tears)
- chronic otitis (long-lasting ear infection)
- severe dental disease
- active chronic inflammation of his anal glands
- papillomas on his face (benign warts caused by canine papillomavirus)
- B1 Mitral Valve Disease (heart disease).
While in the Home’s care, Mr Darcy was given a Hill’s Science Diet consisting of wet food, which within a month had helped him gain much-needed weight, and recover from his anaemia.
Thanks to the help of his foster carer, who assisted with regular eye drops, ear medication, antibiotics and pain relief, Mr Darcy looked like new man just weeks after his arrival. While he still has some chronic conditions that sadly can’t be completely resolved, with proper care, he’s now enjoying a great quality of pain-free life.
In foster care, Mr Darcy proved to be a very sweet dog with a love of food and human company, so combined with his friendly face and personality, he was a popular boy when he went up for adoption. But Mr Darcy also needed a very special home, with a very special family who could commit to monitoring and responding to his chronic health issues.
Luckily, it wasn’t long before the right family came along. Mr Darcy was adopted in December 2020 as a bright and comfortable senior, completely unrecognisable from the dirty Maltese who had arrived just six weeks prior.
As Sydney’s only charity pound and community facility, we rely on donations to give senior pets a second chance in life. Donate today to the Senior Pet Project to give pets like Mr Darcy the care and treatment they need to thrive in their twilight years.
ABOUT THE SENIOR PET PROJECT
In its third year, our Senior Pet Project was started as an initiative not only to put a spotlight on golden oldies to help with their rehoming, but also to raise the funds required for their much needed veterinary care and often prolonged stay at the Home.
With your support we are looking to raise $50,000 to help fund the Senior Pet Project in the months ahead, enabling us to give the seniors entering our care a new leash on life.
When Obi (previously Yogi Bear) was brought into the Home in August 2020, it was clear he required immediate vet attention. The young Staffy cross’ collar was deeply imbedded into the flesh of his neck, suggesting his collar had been fitted when he was a young puppy and hadn’t been loosened as he grew.
After an exam, our vet team determined Obi needed urgent surgery under anaesthesia to remove his collar. He immediately went into surgery, the collar was cut off and his wounds were cleaned, alleviating what could have been months of pain.
Over the next five weeks, Obi’s wounds were managed with regular cleaning and bandage changes under anaesthesia. Slowly, his wounds began to heal and contract, leaving him with the beautiful battle scars that today give Obi so much character.
As he settled into the Home, Obi began to show us his sweet, confident personality. While he proved very trainable, he also had a few behavioural traits including hyperactivity and mouthing, which often make it difficult for dogs to find a home.
But this wasn’t the case for Obi. After just two months in our care, Obi found a home with James. Building on Obi’s initial training at the Home, James has helped transform him into a well-mannered, much-loved dog who gets to go on lots of adventures.
During the early stages of adoption, James was with Obi almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re told Obi was house trained in two days, and within the first week, had mastered stop, sit, lie down, shake hands and to stop pulling on his leash. To this day, Obi practices his cues every night. James tells us, “it has not been easy, but worth every minute. We are both better off.”
Since being adopted, Obi has overcome his separation anxiety and been exposed to lots of new people, dogs and places, including bush trails and the beach. He’s also now comfortable with other dogs, noises, people and traffic. As James puts it, “he is an amazing dog!”
As Sydney’s only charity pound, it’s only thanks to the generous support of our community that we can give dogs like Obi – who had such a rough past – the future they deserve. Thank you to all our wonderful donors, and thank you James, for giving Obi a wonderful new home.
If you’d like to help pets like Obi receive the care they desperately deserve, make a donation today.
Have you ever encountered a deaf cat? It’s possible you may have met one without knowing it! Deaf cats can be just as alert and vibrant as their hearing counterparts, and our kitten Eddie is living proof. Eddie arrived in late November as an 8-week old stray, and following health checks, it became clear he was deaf. Eddie is now available for adoption with his hearing sibling and assistance cat Malcolm. They can’t wait to find a new home together, but first, their new family will need to learn a few things about caring for a deaf cat.
What causes deafness in cats?
Like with humans, cat can lose their hearing as they age, or due to medication side effects or physical illness. However, in Eddie’s case, he has congenital deafness, meaning he has a genetic defect that caused him to be born deaf. Cats with a predominately white coat have the highest rate of congenital deafness.
What type of home is suitable for a deaf cat?
It’s important to provide a deaf cat with a protected indoor environment where they feel safe.
As SDCH Animal Care Manager & Vet Dr Renae Jackson notes, “the outside world is a very dangerous place for a deaf cat, as they can’t hear noises such as dogs, other cats and traffic.” To keep them safe, deaf cat must be kept indoors. They can have a great quality of life indoors, but if you would like to give them the opportunity to explore the outside world, an outdoor cat enclosure can be a great source of enrichment. Most cats can also be trained to use a harness and leash.
Deaf cats can be easily startled, so it’s important to provide safe places where they can survey their surroundings and minimise the risk of surprises. Dr Jackson notes, “high up places are the best, where no one can sneak up on them or accidentally step on them.” As such, it’s a good idea to provide lookout spots such as cat trees around the home.
It can be very scary for a deaf cat to have little hands touching them by surprise, so any children in the household must be mature enough to learn how to communicate effectively with the cat.
How do I communicate with a deaf cat?
Even without the ability to hear, deaf cats tend to be very alert and aware of their surroundings, using their other senses to take in information.
A few methods of communicating with a deaf cat include:
- Light cues – Light is a great way to get the attention of a deaf cat. Try flashing the overhead lights when entering the room, or using a laser pointer or penlight to catch their eye and redirect their attention.
- Hand signals – Sign language isn’t just for humans! Instead of aural cues, you can teach a deaf cat hand signals instead (see ‘How to train a deaf cat’).
- Vibrations – Cats can often feel low frequency vibrations, such as the vibrations you make when you flush a toilet or walk around the house. Try walking with a heavier stride or tapping the ground near a deaf cat to let them know you’re around. This works best on timber floors.
- Touch – Some deaf cats will still enjoy pets and cuddles, but they can startle easily without warning. Always come into their visual field before touching a deaf cat.
How to train a deaf cat
Training a deaf cat is all about communication, with a touch of patience, persistence and creativity.
A great place to start is by teaching hand signals for basic cues, such as ‘come’ or ‘meal time’. There are no set hand signals for training deaf cats, but many people use ASL, Auslan or make up their own basic signs.
Dr Renae Jackson recommends using positive reinforcement to pair a signal with a reward, so the cat knows what is being asked of them and that they will be rewarded for doing the right thing.
Begin by getting the cat’s attention through light, vibration, etc. Once they are looking at you, use your hand signal. If the cat displays the desired behaviour, reward them with a stroke along the torso, a tasty treat, or whatever reward they prefer. Over time, your cat will learn to associate the signal with the behaviour.
It’s important to teach your signals to everyone who lives in or visits your household, so they can communicate with your cat too.
Does a deaf cat need an assistance cat?
While deaf cats don’t necessarily need a hearing kitty companion to get by, it can be beneficial to have one in the home. These ‘assistance cats’ can communicate with deaf cats using visual indicators, helping them to learn routines. For example, Malcolm the assistance cat helps Eddie wake up when it’s time for dinner.
In multi-cat households, it’s important to set up plenty of opportunities for solo playtime with the deaf cat, so they don’t have to worry about being pounced on unexpectedly by their feline friends.
Adopting a deaf cat like Eddie and his helper cat Malcolm does require a little extra time and training, but once everyone in the household learns to communicate effectively, the experience can be very rewarding. In fact, we’ve had a volunteer who’s rescued one deaf cat from SDCH and come back for two more (see Paul’s Three White Deaf Cats)!
Interested in adopting Eddie and Malcolm? See their adoption profile to learn more and send an enquiry: https://sydneydogsandcatshome.org/adopt/
Published 18 Dec 2020
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