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19th April 2022

A cat with an infected neck wound possibly caused by an ill-fitting collar was dumped in Thetford Forest with injuries that have cost a local charity more than £1,000 in vet bills.

Thomas, aged around 12-years-old, was spotted in a layby miles from any houses in Britain’s largest lowland pine forest. A woman grew concerned when she noticed the cat hadn’t moved as she drove past several times. Sensing something was not right, the driver contacted a Cats Protection branch on the edge of the East Anglian woodland.

Rita Thompson, of Cats Protection’s Breckland Branch, said: “The poor boy was in pretty sad shape. Our first thought was that his wound had been caused by mange or a particularly bad allergy but he didn’t even have fleas.

“It could have been an infected collar injury that went from bad to worse. Even though fur has grown back around his wound there is a white line where it hasn't returned, which could indicate a collar that was too tight.”

Vets treated Thomas with antibiotics for infection and samples were taken to check for ringworm. Further checks revealed that he had high blood pressure, which will need to be managed with a daily tablet for life, and he needed dental surgery to have three teeth removed. Thomas was routinely tested for FIV and feline leukaemia and, when these tests came back negative, he was placed into Rita’s care for the start of his recovery.

This level of care is costly, which could be a reason behind his abandonment, Rita suggested: “Caring for a pet isn’t cheap, especially when vet bills mount up. People are struggling with rising living costs and I can see how Thomas’s untreated injury got worse and he needed pricey dental work and perhaps his owner just couldn't afford the vet bills, which is really sad.

“Honestly, though, I don't think Thomas had seen a vet for some time. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have gone so long with a badly broken tooth and needed such expensive treatment.

“We’ll probably never know what caused the injury or why such a loving cat was abandoned, regardless of the circumstances, but the main thing is that Thomas is safe now. He is such a lovely friendly boy who just wants to be with you all the time.”

Cats Protection volunteers have had to foot a growing vet bill that has already topped £1,000 and, after seven weeks in care, is still rising. His recent dental bill alone was £500. Rita and other volunteers raised a few hundred pound at local fairs and fetes but, when fundraising has been hit hard, the charity is appealing for help to fund Thomas’s recovery.

Donations are invited on the JustGiving page.

Sarah Elliott, Cats Protection’s Central Veterinary Officer, issued a warning against poor use of collars: “We have seen too many injuries caused by collars, where cats have been caught while playing, hunting or trying to escape from danger.

“A cat can become caught in an elasticated or ill-fitting collar and this can result in serious injury. In their desperation to get clear, they can get their legs stuck under the collar or the collar can get tighter and bite into their body or neck causing open sores. Not only is this extremely painful and distressing for the cat, but it can also result in permanent injury.”

Cats Protection believes that all owned cats should be identifiable to allow vets to trace their owner should they become lost or injured. The preferred method of identification is an implanted microchip as this is permanent and safe.

If an owner chooses to fit a collar with their contact details, the charity advises that only a 'quick release' or snap-opening collar is used - not an elasticated one. Then the cat would be less likely to be trapped should the collar become caught, keeping it safer from injury or death.

Making sure the collar fits correctly is also important. Two fingers should fit snugly underneath the collar to ensure safety and comfort. Damaged collars should be replaced immediately. Read Cats Protection’s advice on the use of collars.

Rita added: “When Thomas gets a home, we’ll make clear that he shouldn’t ever wear a collar and his flea and worm treatments should be kept up to date, just as a precaution. We don’t want to see him in this poor state again.”

Sadly, Thomas could not be reunited with his previous owners as, despite being microchipped, he was not registered to any name or address. Now given the all-clear, Thomas’s charity volunteers hope to find a new home for him soon.

Rita said: “Thomas is a very affectionate cat who would love to find his forever home. We put him up for adoption after being signed-off by our vets, but sadly we haven’t received any interest so far. There must be someone out there who can give Thomas a loving home.”

Thomas would be an ideal companion for an older couple where he can be the only cat and receive the attention and fuss that he craves. To enquire about Thomas (adoption fee is £80), call 01842 815550.

Support the work of Cats Protection’s Breckland Branch.

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