A cat escaped serious injury after becoming entangled in a tree with a spring trap attached to his front leg.
The young male feline had climbed onto a fence at an allotment in Houghton-le- Spring with the metal device hanging off his right paw. It then became lodged in the branch of a conifer tree leaving him unable to move.
Residents in Hunter Street, which is near the allotments, heard his cries of distress and alerted the RSPCA.
The charity’s inspectors, Rachael Hurst and Rowena Proctor, arrived on the scene last Monday (30 October) to find the cat howling in pain and desperately trying to free the trap from his right paw which had swollen to more than twice the normal size.
Because of his highly agitated state, he was caught with a grasper and then rushed for urgent veterinary treatment at Wrights’ Vets in Birtley, where the trap was removed.
After being given pain relief and antibiotics, X-rays revealed that Steve – as he has been named – had miraculously not suffered any fractures or broken bones. After an overnight stay at the vets he was transferred to the RSPCA’s Felledge Animal and Equine Centre in Chester-le-Street. He’ll need a further check up in the coming days but is expected to make a full recovery.
Sadly Steve wasn’t microchipped, and the RSPCA has put up posters in the local area appealing to anyone who thinks the friendly-natured cat might be their missing pet to get in touch.
Inspector Rachael said: “Apart from some swelling and bruising and a missing toenail on his back foot, which we think was probably caused as he struggled to free himself, Steve was extremely lucky not to sustain more serious injuries. He was crying out in pain when we got there, it really was a distressing sight, and we’re extremely grateful to the concerned residents who promptly raised the alarm and the fantastic team at Wrights’ Vets for their excellent care.
“Steve is such a friendly cat and otherwise healthy and in very good condition, so it’s hard to believe there isn’t a family out there somewhere who is missing him.
“While it’s not an illegal trap in itself, it’s likely this device has been set illegally as they should only be put in an artificial or natural tunnel which is fit for purpose and secured to the ground in order to avoid catching non-target species like poor Steve.
“This particular trap was old and rusty and didn’t look like it had been well maintained. It may have been left out for some time and just forgotten about.
“We’d people to be vigilant and to keep an eye out for similar devices which might have been set in the area. It may not be illegal to own this trap but domestic animals can fall foul of them and they are unforgiving.”
The use of spring traps is controlled by two pieces of legislation – the Pests Act 1954, and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. With certain exceptions, all spring traps in England must be tested and approved under the Spring Traps Approval (England) Order 2012, which lists the conditions for each trap; including legal target species and the need to be set in a natural or artificial tunnel.
Anyone who thinks Steve might be their missing pet should contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 quoting incident number 01177411. Proof of ownership will be required.