CAUGHT in the powerful grip of a rusty animal trap, this terrified tabby had a lucky escape when it was found staggering down a street scared and in pain.
How the pet cat escaped serious injury has confounded vets and RSPCA investigators who are trying to find the person who set the trap.
The distressed animal was found wandering along a road in Cheltenham earlier this week with its head in the vice-like clutches of the trap used for catching vermin.
Vets managed to remove mechanism and the cat was treated for minor injuries before being returned to its owner, but the now search has begun to find who set the device because they may have broken the law.
The trap in question is known as a “fenn trap”. They are used legally by gamekeepers to kill vermin such as grey squirrels, stoats, weasels, rabbits and mink but there are strict regulations on how they are set. By rights, the trap should be put in an artificial tunnel with the entrance size restricted to stop larger animals being hurt.
Steven Davies, the RSPCA animal welfare officer who helped the cat, said: “It was quite a sight to behold: the cat was found by a member of the public wandering down the road with this huge mechanical trap on his head and was clearly in distress.
“The cat was taken to the vets where he was successfully removed from the clutches of the trap. Thankfully, the cat escaped with minor injuries and has now been returned to his worried owner but this could have had a very different outcome.
“We are now just looking to locate the owner of the trap so that we can speak to them and offer them some important advice on setting their traps properly, as they may not be aware of it but they could be breaking the law.”
Adam Grogan, RSPCA’s Head of Wildlife, added: “There are strict legal conditions on setting these types of traps and not setting them in the right way can mean that you are committing an offence. These traps should be set in such a way to prevent them killing or injuring a domestic animal and so people should think carefully before using them.
“Generally speaking however, cats should not get caught in fenn traps if they are being set properly. Those using the traps should be fully aware of the legislation regulating their use and of codes of practice that should be followed to ensure that non-target species are not captured. These traps should be set inside real or artificial tunnels and the entrance to the tunnel should be restricted so as to avoid incidents like this.”
Anyone who has any further information about the owner of the trap or if you think you might be the owner of the trap, please contact the RSPCA on the inspector appeal line, in confidence, on 0300 123 8018.