Written by Dee Hazell, Inspector at SPCA Swellendam
Professional photography by Wim Lubbersen
Glue traps are both cruel and illegal, yet people still use them to try and control rats and mice. It was into one of these horrific traps that the ginger kitten had unwittingly wandered, becoming inextricably stuck.
Stuck to the dish towel
On Thursday the 15th of March, Field Officer Rico Plaatjies called me to come down to the SPCA shop in town urgently. He’d been alerted to a kitten that had been caught in a glue trap. These are literally death traps and the animal is stuck to the strong glue, unable to get away, and dies from exhaustion, starvation and thirst.
This kitten needed help urgently. I arrived to find SPCA Charity Shop volunteer Helen Lakin carefully holding the ginger-and-white kitten in a dish towel. It was tiny, only about four weeks old, and completely stuck to the towel.
I tentatively pulled the towel away to assess the situation; it appeared as if the skin could be torn away along with the dish towel if we weren’t careful. The kitten, resigned to its fate, just lay there purring. Helen was in tears.
It turned out that the kitten’s owner had set the glue traps to keep rats away from his shop. He said he’d removed all of them but had forgotten about the one on top of the cupboard; the kitten had been found there that morning. Not willing or able to incur the vet treatment costs, he signed over the little kitten to the SPCA.
A sticky kitty
I immediately took the sticky kitten to the Swellendam Animal Hospital. There the good doctor, his assistant and I carefully began trying to remove the glue with petroleum jelly, being very careful so as not to hurt the baby by tearing his delicate skin.
Unfortunately, this option wasn’t working as effectively as we’d hoped, so, after a quick purchase of baby oil, shampoo and powder, we headed off with a now sticky and slimy kitten back to the SPCA.
The kitten was clearly feeling relieved and, purring, gave us kisses. Evidently the little tyke had a large personality and was thus christened “Mufasa”.
A good application of baby oil was rubbed through Mufasa’s sticky fur. Amazingly, he lay completely still while he was being combed out. Then he was shampooed, washed thoroughly, combed again, and dried; he purred throughout the ordeal.
After being powdered and placed in the cattery, he happily tucked into some food. What an amazing little survivor.
The best family for him
Remembering the Boshoff family who’d lost a beloved cat due to a saddle thrombus a few months previously, I just knew that they’d be the best family for him. I sent them some photos and Marinda immediately replied that they’d be there in the morning to meet Mufasa.
The following day, as promised, Marinda and her daughters, Andrea and Yvette, arrived. Needless to say, it was mutual love at first sight. There were plenty of kisses all round and I was delighted that my plan had worked. Mufasa would heal their hearts and they would adore him! But we still had to convince Marinda’s husband, Jacques.
Marinda immediately completed the adoption application and a home inspection was approved. We agreed to stay in touch over the weekend as we waited eagerly to hear if they’d won Jacques over.
On Saturday, the SPCA vet declared little Mufasa to be fit and healthy and, by Sunday morning, Jacques confirmed that they would adopt him. I was elated and agreed to meet them at the SPCA at 16h00.
The whole family arrived to fetch their new family member. The happiness was tangible as everyone gave Mufasa cuddles and kisses; he purred happily as he was passed to each member of the family. With everyone filled with love and excitement they left the SPCA with their new baby. His name was changed to Gloo (but he will always be Mufasa to me).
First thing on Monday morning I received a WhatsApp of little Gloo lying on the couch in the sun, with a caption: “How can an SPCA cat be so precocious?”
Isn’t it wonderful that one tiny, seemingly insignificant kitten with such a big personality can create so much happiness and “glue” an entire family together?