SPCA New Zealand

From rescued to rehomed: Fern and Frank's story

26 May 2021
From rescued to rehomed: Fern and Frank's story

Here at SPCA we have dozens of animals come through our doors every day. Our ‘transformation’ 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 Fern and Frank’s story.

A perilous start to the life

At approximately two weeks old, a newborn kitten’s eyes first open giving them a glimpse of the world.

Unfortunately, this is a luxury that Fern the kitten will never experience. Fern and his sibling Frank were found in long grass with nothing but each other for comfort. Luckily their tiny squeaks were heard by a man mowing the grass nearby, who then alerted SPCA.

When Fern and Frank arrived through SPCA’s doors, it was clear they were incredibly sick and their tiny bodies were fighting off a severe case of cat flu and conjunctivitis.

SPCA Vet Care Team Lead Heidi Olsen was working late on the day Fern and Frank arrived. She witnessed how tiny and vulnerable they were, so made the call to foster them herself.

“The kittens came into the Centre quite late and I happened to be finishing later than usual that night. At four weeks old, they were too young to be left by themselves at the Centre overnight as they weren’t feeding by themselves yet,” Heidi explains.

“Fern and Frank had to go with a staff member because they were both on strong pain relief and needed to be closely watched during their first week, as they were so sick and being bottle-fed.”

Recovering in a home environment

The first few weeks of a newborn kitten’s life are already perilous and it took a lot of work from Heidi and the rest of the SPCA team to get Fern and Frank safely through those first few uncertain weeks – including pain relief injections twice a day.

But Fern and Frank were troopers and their resilience left Heidi in awe.

“Fern and Frank were super cute, that’s a given, but they were affectionate and fun. Mostly, I loved the way they never looked back. They were in pain and clearly unhappy when we first got them but after they got what they needed, they got on with healing and became robust, cute and energetic little boys. It’s just astounding what cats can come back from,” she says.

However, after weeks of treatment and monitoring, it became clear Fern’s eyes had suffered irreparable damage. Fern never gained the ability to see, and our vet team ascertained that he'd never gain sight.

“Being blind is not ideal but Fern never knew any different, so he learned to navigate around a home and to his litter tray and food bowl with relative ease. After that first week of fairly intensive care, it was quite smooth sailing and they healed and recovered very well,” Heidi says.

Special needs and thriving

Vets operated on Fern to remove both his damaged eyes and prevent any implications or infections down the track.

Special needs animals can thrive in the right home, and Heidi and the team were hopeful that once Fern has healed from his surgery, Fern and Frank could find a loving home together.

They have since been adopted together and are living happily ever after in a special indoor-only home. Our team are thrilled to see how much of a transformation these two kittens have made since their sickly and weak start to life.

“It’s bittersweet seeing Fern and Frank rehomed. I felt a sense of achievement for helping two kittens who started life in such a horrendous condition, grow to perfect health. But I also missed them.” Heidi says.

“We are very lucky at SPCA to meet such wonderfully resilient animals and bear witness to them finding the loving home they deserve.”

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