SPCA New Zealand

One small kitten, one big dose of resilience

28 February 2024

Here at SPCA, our priority is sick, injured, abused and vulnerable animals. This means a lot of the animals we meet have the odds stacked against them. Sometimes, despite heroic efforts, they’re simply unable to pull through. Sometimes though, they defy all expectations and make the most incredible recovery. Goosey is one such animal… this is his story.

One small kitten, one big dose of resilience

Born into a life of neglect

Goosey’s origin story is a heartbreaking – yet sadly not uncommon – one. Although his mother had been owned as a companion animal, she was one of too many who was never desexed by those responsible for her care. Worse than this, when her owners moved away, she was intentionally left behind, forced to fend for herself. And not only herself… the poor girl was pregnant.

She started making herself at home around her former owners’ neighbourhood, finding food where she could but keeping her distance from people. Before long, the caring community had alerted their local SPCA Centre in Ashburton. Despite several attempts to trap mama cat and bring her into our care before her babies were born, our best efforts proved unsuccessful. Having been frightened by the trapping attempts, the cat disappeared completely, meaning we were unable to find her.

A couple of months passed, and a nearby resident managed to trap her while setting a trap for another stray in the area. She was rushed into a local vet who determined she had recently had kittens, but the poor thing was also suffering from a ruptured eye, which needed removing urgently. Our team immediately headed out and searched far and wide for her babies, knowing their time would be limited. We searched everywhere we could, but no kittens showed up. Our hearts broke knowing they were out there alone, and unlikely to survive without their mother.

A whole week later, a local house was undergoing an inspection before it was due to be demolished. Thankfully, before demolition day, a contractor discovered a litter of six kittens… this was the litter we’d been searching for!

It was a miracle they’d survived a week without mum this young, but they would have had only hours left if they hadn’t been found when they were… all six kittens were incredibly sick, weak, and cold. They were on death’s door.

Goosey (far left) was the sickest of the litter when we finally met them, but all six kittens were struggling
Goosey (far left) was the sickest of the litter when we finally met them, but all six kittens were struggling

A bath to starting healing both body and spirit

As well as being absolutely starving, all six kittens were suffering from severe cat flu. Our Ashburton team was amazed their tiny bodies hadn’t succumbed in their week alone.

As well as being absolutely starving, Goosey’s eyes were oozing so badly they were completely crusted together. He was sneezing and coughing, his nose was running making it hard for him to breath, and he was lethargic.

Along with his siblings, Goosey got a bath to gently wipe the gunk away from his eyes and nose, making him breathe easier. It was the beginning of a journey that continued for many weeks, a gradual process of being nursed back to health. Suffice to say, with his body so weakened and his system struggling to keep going, it was touch and go for wee Goosey.

During this time we determined that Goosey was deaf, which is not uncommon in white cats. It removed any stress he might have felt when being blow-dried after that first bath!

Goosey during and just after the first bath which started his journey back to health
Goosey during and just after the first bath which started his journey back to health

After a hard start, Goosey gets a happy ending…

Despite a slow recovery which saw Goosey relapse and suffer a second bout of severe cat flu, his beautiful personality never faded. From right after that first bath, he seemed to be always purring, and loved having human cuddles!

Being one of our smaller Centres, SPCA Ashburton does not have an onsite vet, and instead partners with one of the many amazing vet practices around New Zealand who help care for our vulnerable animals.

One of the team at this vet partnership, vet nurse Courtney, was instrumental in nursing Goosey and siblings back to health, and absolutely fell in love with this sweet boy during his recovery. When he was finally healthy enough and ready for adoption… he didn’t go far. Courtney took him home! All his siblings miraculously pulled through their ordeal too, with all but one being adopted so far.

SPCA Ashburton team member Charlotte says, “I can’t begin to tell you the love and tears that have gone into the journey of these six beautiful babies. Seeing how absolutely beloved, healthy, and happy (not to mention stunning!) Goosey is now is the most rewarding feeling. This is why we do what we do. This is why SPCA is here. There’s no feeling like it.”

Goosey with his new mum, Courtney
Goosey with his new mum, Courtney
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