SPCA New Zealand

From rescued to rehomed: Axel’s story

25 July 2022

Here at SPCA we have dozens of animals come through our doors every day. Our ‘Rescued to Rehomed’ stories share the tales of those who come into our care, in pain and often fighting for their lives, and make a miraculous recovery. This is Axel's story.

From rescued to rehomed: Axel’s story

An unlikely find

We hear of many unusual places where lost or abandoned animals are found by members of the public, but it’s not often that a kitten is found inside a car engine.

This was the case for Axel. This tiny kitten was lucky to be found by a member of the public, and it was clear that he was not used to human contact. He was very unwell and required medical treatment, but was terrified to be held and moved.

His rescuer managed to bring him in to SPCA so that he could be assessed by the team. Axel was found to have ringworm, with lesions visible on his abdomen, and he needed an X-ray on one of his front legs. It was clear this little kitten had not had an easy start to life.

Axel on arrival to SPCA
Axel on arrival to SPCA

Rehabilitation and socialisation

Our team got to work, providing him with the medical care and attention he needed. His ringworm was treated, and his health was on the mend – but equally important was the socialisation that Axel desperately required.

Generally, if kittens haven’t had human contact before 7-8 weeks of age, it can be extremely difficult for them to ever become socialised. If left too late, it can be very challenging for them to become accustomed to being handled, or even be comfortable in the presence of humans. When Axel was brought in, he was estimated to be approximately 12 weeks old – quite far beyond this stage. However, our team were determined to try.

With as much handling as possible to help Axel get used to the people around him, he slowly began to show signs of being comfortable around his caregivers.

Axel was handled as much as possible to get him socialised
Axel was handled as much as possible to get him socialised

Fostering turned into forever

Showing signs of improvement, but still with a bit of a journey ahead of him, Axel needed to spend some time in foster care before he was ready to be permanently adopted. He must have made quite an impression on his original rescuer, Carla, who kindly offered to become his foster parent.

Temporary fostering is a crucial part of rehabilitation for many of the animals that come into SPCA’s care. Not only do the animals get peace and quiet away from the often busy Centres, they get to truly experience what a loving home environment is like.

It was in Carla’s foster care that Axel began to come out of his shell. Gradually, he became noticeably calmer, and it was clear that all of the efforts to ensure he was socialised were starting to pay off.

“It took a bit of time for Axel to gain his confidence, but he’s come such a long way from that scared little kitten! He’s so talkative and affectionate now,” said Carla.

We were even more thrilled when Carla decided that she couldn’t bear to part ways with Axel – and decided to adopt him permanently.

Seeing Axel’s journey from being found inside the car engine, to terrified of all humans, to eventually being adopted into his loving forever home by the very person who found him that day, brings us pure joy.

It seems now Axel couldn’t be more at home. “He loves hanging his belly through the hole in his cat tower, and hanging out with his new BFF rescue dog, Ranger.”

Axel and rescue dog Ranger
Axel and rescue dog Ranger
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