Animal welfare campaigners are warning of the continued use of illegal gin traps, after a pet cat had to chew off part of its front legs to escape one.
Black cat Sam managed to drag himself back to his Sheringham home, Norfolk, despite having parts of two front legs missing.
The five-year-old pet had to be put to sleep by a vet because he was so badly hurt.
Cat lover Judy Jonas, whose nephew Simon Smith owned the cat, said Sam’s shredded legs seemed to indicate the pet was caught in a trap and managed to get itself free – a view confirmed by vets who tried to treat the victim.
And the RSPCA is issued a stern warning about setting illegal traps which can result in stiff fines or months in jail.
“My nephew was devastated. We just want to make sure this does not happen to somebody else,” she added.
Last year her sister’s tabby cat Summer from next door also suffered a foot injury consistent with a trap, but had recovered, despite the loss of a couple of toes.
The RSPCA and police had been informed and were looking into the cases, she added.
RSPCA inspector John Jenkins said: “Sam’s injuries were horrific – his owners have no idea how he managed to get himself home in such a state.”
Another cat from nearby Bodham just four miles away had returned home with a gin trap attached to its leg earlier this month, he added.
“Gin traps are illegal, and if you set them you are breaking the law – whether they catch anything or not.
“I cannot emphasise strongly enough he importance of checking your property for traps and removing them immediately before they harm another animal or person.”
Anyone found guilty of setting a gin trap which causes unnecessary suffering to an animal faces a fine of up to £20,000 and/or six months in jail.
If you have any information about this incident contact PCSO Cassie Doubleday at Sheringham, Norfolk, on 0845 456 4567, or the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. All information will be treated in confidence.