A PET cat spent more than a week in agony after being caught in an illegal trap.
The thin and dehydrated male tabby was found “on the verge of death” after it managed to detach the spring trap from a post and crawled to a nearby house in Wallyford, East Lothian.
Animal welfare experts believe the trap – which is designed to kill pests including grey squirrels and stoats by breaking their necks – was deliberately left in the open to target passing animals.
Officials with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said they were treating the case as a “premeditated, callous act of cruelty”, and warned that whoever laid the trap could face a sentence of up to six months in prison and fines totalling 5000.
The cat, which was caught by the left foreleg, is now recovering from its ordeal at the SSPCA’s Lothian Animal Welfare Centre at Balerno. Officials are urgently trying to trace the tabby’s owner and vowed to lobby for a complete ban on traps and snares.
Although the cat was in poor condition when it was released from the trap animal experts say its general condition suggests it was a well cared for family pet.
Senior SSPCA inspector Paul Anderson said that the cat was severely injured when it was found, still caught in the trap.
He said: “This cat has triggered the spring with its leg, but somehow, despite its suffering, it has managed to detach itself and drag the trap into a garden where it was found. When sprung, these traps can kill an animal instantly, but it had clearly been on the cat’s leg for around a week.
“The trap closing would have caused immense pain, and he would then have been unable to eat or drink until he freed the wire which would have anchored the trap to a post.
“He was right on the verge of death, extremely thin and dehydrated.”
The tabby was immediately put on a liquid drip by a vet. His leg will not require amputation.
The animal was caught in a trap, which legally can only be used by experts to kill pests.
Inspector Anderson added: “These traps are designed to kill pest species such as grey squirrels, stoats, weasels, rats and mice in tunnel traps.
“When used for any other purpose they become illegal.
“There is no humane reason to set a trap like this in the open. I can only imagine this has been a premeditated, callous act of cruelty.”
The family pet was rescued on the same day that the Scottish Parliament heard a first reading of the Nature Conservation Bill.
The Bill is regarded by conservationists as one of the most important pieces of legislation to be heard by Holyrood.
It could radically improve the protection of animals in Scotland by tightening rulings on snare setting, but the SSPCA wants even stricter measures after thousands of animals including protected species, domestic pets and livestock were injured and killed by the devices last year.
SSPCA spokeswoman Doreen Graham said: “We fully support the provisions in the new Bill, but what we want to see is traps and snares abolished.”