SPCA New Zealand

From rescued to rehomed: Rufus's story

26 October 2022

Here at SPCA, we have dozens of animals come through our doors every day. Rufus showed us his resilience after undergoing surgery to remove his ears, which were covered with pre-cancerous lesions. This is his story.

From rescued to rehomed: Rufus's story

Rufus and the health risks for white cats

When Rufus came into our care at our SPCA Centre in Napier, it was evident that he was going to need a great deal of TLC from our team. His previous owner could no longer take care of him, and he was suffering from some serious health issues. At 10 years old, we knew he didn’t have an easy road ahead.

Rufus desperately required dental treatment, with several teeth needing to be removed. His jaw was swollen, most likely caused by the pain of the teeth that needed to be extracted. He was also found to have a heart murmur, and it was during this check-up that pre-cancerous lesions were discovered on his ears.

While many people are not aware of the health risks associated with white cats, cancer caused by sun exposure is a common problem for these animals. Light-coloured cats (and dogs) have less protection against UV rays, and are therefore most commonly affected with squamous cell carcinomas – cancer of the skin and mouth. The tumours often appear on areas where the cat’s fur offers little or no protection, such as the ears, eye ridges, nose and lips.

After his initial assessment, it was decided that Rufus needed to be transferred to our Wellington Centre to receive specific treatment.

Surgery at our Wellington Centre

The team in Wellington wasted no time in getting to work, and it wasn’t long before Rufus received his dental treatment. After the necessary teeth were extracted, the swelling of his jaw began to come down. The lesions on his ears were of great concern to the vet staff, as they are all too aware of the dangers that these pose. The decision was made to remove his ears to ensure that the cancer wouldn’t develop and spread further.

Despite his hardships, Rufus remained a loveable and affectionate boy, and recovered extremely well from his surgeries. Maddy from the Wellington Feline Team noted how quickly the team fell for his charm.

“He was a very happy boy even in hospital, and he loved getting attention from the vet staff and volunteers. He quickly became a staff favourite,” Maddy said.

Recovery, foster care, and the wait for adoption

With his surgeries completed, the most important thing now was for Rufus to rest and recover. Rufus seemed to be quite anxious around other cats, and definitely preferred having his own space. To spend some time outside of the often busy Centre environment, Rufus was able to go into the care of one of our wonderful fosterers.

Foster care allows animals to not only experience a loving home environment, but also frees up space inside our Centres for more incoming animals that have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. We couldn’t continue our critical work without the help of those who foster, and Rufus was able to continue his recovery in this calming environment.

Once he had fully recuperated, he came back to the Centre and was checked over again by our vet team. His heart murmur became quieter over time, so it was likely due to stress that this was present initially. He also became more comfortable with other cats in the Centre as time went on, which was wonderful to see.

Ready to find his forever home, Rufus waited hopefully to be adopted. With his past health scares, the need to be an indoor-only cat, and his age, the team wasn’t sure how long it would take for the right people to come through the door.

A loving forever home

Luckily for Rufus, the wait wasn’t long.

Sian came into SPCA originally to meet Mosari, a loveable three-legged cat. When she visited the Centre that day, she wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Rufus too.

The Wellington team said it was a match made in heaven, as Rufus had started to come out of his shell and was very social around Mosari. When they initially thought he’d need to be adopted on his own, it was clear that he would be quite happy to go home with this particular furry friend.

“It really was ideal. He was going to a big house where he was able to have his own space when he needed it. It was literally the perfect home for him,” Maddy said.

Sian took both Rufus and Mosari home that day, and we couldn’t be more thrilled for them all. It’s been wonderful to hear from Sian and learn more about how Rufus has been settling in to his new home:

“Rufus is the most resilient cat I have ever known,” she writes to us. “He is determined to live his life to the fullest. From the day we brought him home he has been as relaxed and comfortable as if he had been living with us for the past ten years, not the past few weeks,” Sian said.

“He loves his memory-foam cushion from which he watches the people and other animals of the neighbourhood, but most of all he loves spending time with us getting scratches and pats, and falling asleep on our laps.”

We know Rufus will live out the rest of his days in comfort and peace, knowing how that he is deeply loved. This is the ultimate outcome for SPCA animals that we strive for every day.

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