Sintra's Story - back home and recovering

sintra back home
(Photo is of Sintra with our boys on the day we brought her home - they are ecstatic to have her back!)

Our cat Sintra had been with our family for seven years, and was one of those cats that everybody loved - she just had to be around people, was super friendly and absolutely adored by our two sons, who are now eleven and nine years old. One day last May she didn’t come home, which we thought was unusual, but we assumed maybe she had stayed at our neighbour’s house (she was well loved over there as well). She didn’t return the next day or night either, and we started to worry. After she hadn’t reappeared for several days we became very worried, thinking maybe she was locked in a shed or up a tree, and we put together a flyer that we delivered all around our neighbourhood. I put a note out on Facebook, and on Pets on the Net, but to no avail. Gradually time went on, and although we always hoped one day she would be found and her microchip scanned, our hope began to fade week by week. Months began to pass and we gradually started to accept the fact we would never see her again, or to find out what happened. It was the not knowing that was especially hard - we just wanted to know where she was and that she was ok.

Then, on the 27th of December, more than seven months after she disappeared, we received an email. It was from an emergency vet in Henderson, miles away from where we live in One Tree Hill. They said a cat had been brought in and our details were on the microchip. We couldn’t believe it, we were so excited, but our joy was short lived, as the vet explained that she was extremely sick, and her prognosis was not good. Our hearts sank, so my husband and I left the boys with relatives and went to see her - we didn’t want them upset by whatever state she was in. When we got to the vet, we saw our beloved pet, and could see that she recognised us straight away. She was so weak and thin, she couldn’t sit up, had lost half her body weight, was on an iv drip, her blood tests were all over the place and she had uncontrollable diarrhoea. The vet said we could keep treating her, to give her a chance, but he thought it was unlikely she would recover. We couldn’t bear the thought of her being found, then putting her straight to sleep, so we decided to give her a chance. She gradually began to show small improvements, so we transferred her to our own vet. Over the next week she improved more each day, until we were allowed to try treating her at home. We syringe fed her for four days, then with the help of an appetite stimulant she began eating and drinking again on her own. Now, only three and a half weeks after she was found at death’s door, she is looking amazing - she has put on over 1kg, her behaviour and disposition have returned to how she was before we lost her, and she is the happy, purring, content cat that we know and love. She is still a bit wobbly and trying to get her jumping skills back, but that will be a matter of time. She has amazed and delighted our vet and the nurses there, who cannot believe her recovery. She has become quite a celebrity amongst our family and friends with her miraculous recovery - if only she could tell her tale.

We have our beloved pet back only because a kind stranger saw how ill she was and took her to a vet, and then only because she was microchipped. The microchip saved her life, as we were able to be contacted and to give her a chance to recover. If our story can in any way help you to persuade others of the benefits of microchipping their beloved pets, then please feel free to use it. We can’t thank you enough for providing such a wonderful service, getting Sintra back was the best Christmas present we ever could have hoped for.

Best regards

Nicky and family

Is it really a stray cat?

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Our first instinct when we see a cat hanging about our property is to presume it is a stray. Often this is not the case.

Most experts recommend that if the cat looks healthy then make a bowl of water available, and if cold offer a sheltered place to sleep outside under a porch or in a shed. Food should usually be avoided at first unless the cat looks like it is in distress, skinny, injured or looks uncared for. Providing food can simply mean the cat will set up base with you rather than return home.

If you can approach the cat a paper collar with your phone number and a note to give you a call will be appreciated by owners who probably do not realise what their cats are doing - it may be simply that they are at work during the day. If the cat remains for more than a couple of days then contacting neighbours, posting a found notice on, or getting the animal checked for a microchip can also be worthwhile.

If the cat has been with you for a reasonable period of time and you are not wanting to offer it a home, then contacting the SPCA or any of the major shelters is probably advisable.

If a cat is unapproachable it could be an "unsocialised" cat. Such cats usually do not like to be touched and keep a good distance from you. In these cases it pays to seek advice or assistance with capturing humanely. Again the SPCA will be able to advise on this, also most larger centres in New Zealand have dedicated groups caring for unsocialised cats and colonies.

If you find a kitten, then these should not be left to fend for themselves as they are most likely unable to do so. Ideally a kitten should be given proper care while the owner is located, or the SPCA contacted so they can provide proper care and rehome once the kitten is well enough.

Prepared by the NZCAR team, with input from the RNZSPCA.

TV Adverts increased traffic

During September 2015, the NZCAR ran a TV campaign to see if it increased awareness of our service.

Mediaworks were extreme kind and offered to match our advertising budget dollar for dollar with a promise to try and squeeze in more ads where possible. For our $10,000 investment we were promised just over $22,000 worth of air time. However thanks to their generosity, we actuually received over $47,000 worth of air time in 153 spots. While we chose an off-peak campaign to keep costs down, our ads were in fact played at a variety of times including peak times and in key programmes. The NZCAR would not have been able to afford to run a campaign like this so many thanks to Mediaworks, and their extemely supportive agent Jeannie Stirling.

The production cost of the ad, including images, voices, production, editing, approval and submission was all met by Animal Register Limited to further reduce costs to the NZCAR.

Did it work?

During the month we have had quite a lot of feedback through the office with a noticeable increase in people calling to update contact details and ask about the register. The website also recorded a significant jump (almost 10% increase) in figures for unique visitors and hits for the month. Based on an average of the previous four months the increase was 8.2% for unique visits and 9.5% for hits. Given that October is usually one of the quieter months in the pet cycle, the increase is very pleasing.

  Unique Hits Visitors
May 2015 7070 202909
Jun 2015 7096 210945
Jul 2015 6960 215303
Aug 2015 7115 202873
Sep 2015 7642 227805

Just to explain terminology, a unique visitor is a unique IP address within a given timeframe. So for example most organisations will have a unique IP and if everyone there visited the site at the same time it would only record as one unique visitor. A hit is a completed file download and on any given page of the site there are a number of files including html, jpegs etc. Also our stats are sourced from our web server and due to the older package they provide it does not record all mobile access or database activity which could increase the numbers significantly. Our new platform records all stats and we will be able to use these in future reports.

Overall while this was a huge cost (the largest sum spent on promotion so far),  I think it has proved worthwhile and helped make our 8th anniversary milestones more memorable.