Wisbech locals had seen a cat limping for several weeks during winter but nobody could coax her near to check on her ailing condition. When they eventually managed to get a closer look at the cat - estimated at just 18 months old - they were moved to appeal for professional help.
Lindsay Tempest, manager at Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre, said: “Many people had shared photos on a local Facebook group saying she was limping and badly injured. When nobody came forward after repeated posts, someone tagged Cats Protection and appealed for help.”
After checking that the cat could be caught safely within COVID-19 guidelines, a humane trap was set with smelly sardines and tuna to attract the hungry cat. Not long after, she was trapped and the Cats Protection team moved in. Although a collar suggested that she had been someone’s pet at some point, she was not microchipped and repeated appeals have been unsuccessful.
From the time she came into care, it was clear that the cat - named Louise by her carers - needed urgent veterinary attention. Her front leg had looped under her collar, causing deep wounds in her armpit that had become badly infected.
Vets acted fast, cutting off the collar, giving pain relief and cleaning the open wounds. Skin had begun to grow over the collar, causing the wounds to become infected. She also had ear mites, a tick, muscle damage and swelling to her joints and limbs. This poor girl had been in discomfort and pain for some months.
Lindsay said: “She had managed to get her front leg through the collar. Over time the collar had embedded into her armpit and was causing an open wound, which then became infected.
“We thought we may have to amputate her leg. The infection was so bad that we needed to get that under control before exploring the best option for her. She has had two operations and her wounds need regular flushing and dressing to aid healing. But it’s still touch and go.”
Louise’s growing vet bill has already topped £1,300 and, in a year when fundraising has been hit, Cats Protection is appealing for help with Louise’s care. Donations are invited at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cpdownhamlouisevetappeal
Sarah Elliott, Cats Protection’s Central Veterinary Officer, said: “We have seen too many injuries caused by collars, where cats have got caught while playing, hunting or trying to escape from danger.
“A cat’s leg or jaw may become caught in an elasticated or ill-fitting collar and this can result in serious injury. In their desperation to get clear, their legs can get stuck under the collar or the collar can travel down around their chest, getting tighter and biting into their body and causing open sores.”
Cats Protection believes that all owned cats should be identified in order 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 also chooses to fit a collar with their contact details attached, the charity advises that only a 'quick release' or snap-opening collar is ever used - not an elasticated one. Then the cat would be less likely to be trapped should the collar become caught or tangled, 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 and damaged collars should be replaced immediately. Cats Protection’s advice on the use of collars is here: https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/getting-a-cat/choosing-a-cat-collar.
Downham Market Cats Protection has helped over 20,000 cats like Louise for the last 30 years. The charity’s 30th birthday wish is to remain #HereForTheCats for many years to come.
For more information, contact Cats Protection Media Office: Media.Office@Cats.org.uk / 01825 741 911
Notes to editors