Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stray cats again

Today's Mirror has a story which seems absolutely horrifying on the face of it. The National RSPCA's spokesman has simply stated that the Society is trying to find exactly what did happen, and they are clearly as gob-smacked as I am, because virtually everything that happened breaks normal policy on dealing with complaints about "stray" cats.

For the record, what would normally happen is as follows:

Caller phones in (sometimes direct to a branch or animal home, sometimes to the National Control Centre).

Caller: There's a stray cat in my garden and I want you to come out and pick it up.

RSPCA: Is the cat injured? Does it seem to be ill.


Caller: Yes - I saw the poor thing hit by a car - one of its legs is hanging off.
(What's wrong obviously varies depending on circumstances)

RSPCA: Can you take the cat to a vet and we'll pay for treatment? That would be quickest. If you haven't got transport we can send someone out, but that may take a while.....


Caller: No, but it's been hanging around for days and it needs rehoming.

RSPCA: Most cats like that do have a home and go back there when they're hungry. Don't encourage him by feeding him and he'll probably go home. If you're still worried, try putting on a paper collar asking the owner to phone you - or put up notices asking if anyone local's lost a cat.

Normally we're very resistant indeed to agreeing to pick up healthy, uninjured cats just because someone says they're stray - to the point where callers often get quite annoyed about it. It wouldn't normally be treated as a priority (because the animal isn't in distress) so it would be very surprising for an inspector to be diverted to collect the cat in the short length of time described in the article.

Of course micro-chipping would make this kind of event much less likely (although still not impossible if a cat is very difficult to handle in order to scan for a chip).

In any situation it's always possible that some individual may make a completely unreasonable and wrong decision or be over-persuaded by a caller who is totally convinced they're in the right. Possibly the explanation is that this cat was injured and the real argument is over whether the injuries were treatable or not.

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