POLICE are investigating after a kitten was caught in an animal trap on a Lothian estate.
Smokey had to be rescued from the trap on farmland in Pathhead, Midlothian, with animal welfare workers saying he was lucky not to have been more seriously injured.
While the landowners who set the trap said it was legal, his owner Keith Lockhart, who rents a home on the estate, questioned whether or not it should have been laid.
He added that had his family not heard the cat’s distressed screams from 100 yards away, he would almost certainly have died.
He has been backed by the SSPCA, which described such traps as “cruel”.
Mr Lockhart, 45, a paramedic, said: “We were outside waiting for the kids’ school bus and heard these awful screams from about 100 yards away,
“We went off trying to find out what it was, and eventually found Smokey with his foot stuck in the trap. I had to use all my strength to pry it open, and I’ve taken it back with me because it is a danger.”
The patch of ground at the village’s Whitburgh Mains is said to be popular with dog walkers. However, the owners of Whitburgh Farms said all residents, including Mr Lockhart, knew not to allow animals to run around the field nearby.
It had been laid by a local gamekeeper in a bid to catch stoats and rats.
Mr Lockhart added: “Although it’s secluded, it’s a thoroughfare as well. If we hadn’t heard those screams the cat would have fallen unconscious, and we’d never have found him.”
SSPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said animal traps were “indiscriminate and cruel”. He added: “In this instance it was extremely lucky that the cat was not severely injured or even killed.”
It is understood police are now investigating whether the trap was legally set.
A spokesman for Whitburgh Farms said: “The terms of the lease signed by Keith Lockhart stated that they were only allowed to keep pets with the permission of their landlord.
“The landlord allowed them to keep two well-controlled dogs and two house cats. Clearly they breached this agreement by allowing one of their cats to wander unattended.
“The trap is perfectly legal and widely used in Scotland.”
A police spokesman said: “Inquiries are ongoing following this incident.”