Refusing to take your cat to a veterinarian can be a crime

People might ask whether a refusal for a cat owner to take their cat to a veterinarian can be a crime. The answer is that it can be a crime. It depends on many factors one of which is where you live which dictates the laws around cat caregiving and how they are enforced.

I know that it can be a crime because there is a case in news media today which illustrates the point. It comes from the UK. And in any case it is a form of animal neglect which is automatically a crime if severe enough.

Milo with right ear pixelated
Milo with right ear pixelated to avoid upsetting advertisers. Image: RSPCA
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Milo, the cat concerned, developed cancer in his ear flaps, particularly the right ear flap. As you might expect it develop slowly. His owner did not take him to a veterinarian for appropriate care because of the cost. Lesson: you have to have a budget to care for a cat properly.

The owner noticed that Milo’s ear was becoming red and sore six months before they used antiseptic spray from a supermarket and warm water with added salt to treat it.

The diseased ear deteriorated to the point where the cat’s health was brought to the attention of the RSPCA. They received a telephone call and photos about Milo whose right ear was bleeding.

RSPCA inspector, Deb Scotcher, attended the property where Milo lived and noticed the unpleasant smell of infection coming from his ear.

Milo was very well behaved, purring when attended to by the RSPCA but he was clearly in discomfort. Milo was shaking his head. By that time a large part of his ear flap was missing and the remaining tissue was encrusted in dried blood.

The veterinarian concluded that Milo’s right ear flap had to be amputated. The RSPCA inspector said:

“During his treatment and care, Milo just kept on purring. I’ll never forget how sad it made me feel to see him so unwell but still purring for attention, even before he was given pain relief and antibiotics to keep him comfortable until his operation.”

Veterinary tests confirmed that he had cancer in his right ear and to a certain extent in this left ear.

In taking out the cancer it is probable or possible that they saved Milo’s life.

The RSPCA successful prosecuted Milo’s owner in the magistrates’ court leading to her being disqualified from keeping pets, paying a fine and court costs.

The person now has a criminal conviction for failing to take their cat to a veterinarian in a timely manner. That is the answer to the question that this article poses.

Milo has been adopted by Emma Brown who has fallen in love with him. She said: “From the moment I first saw Milo, I kept going back and looking at him. He was an older boy with health conditions and I know just how hard it can be to find homes for older animals. I have a busy home so wanted to be sure Milo was happy to join our family. I decided to offer him a foster home first before signing the adoption papers just two weeks later, as he’d settled in perfectly and so quickly.”

This case is rare. In some countries it will never happen and in those countries it has never happened. The UK is a pretty good country in terms of animal welfare and the Animal Welfare Act 2006, under which the above-mentioned woman was prosecuted, is very effective and of course the UK has the RSPCA which can prosecute rather than rely on the police who frankly are useless in the UK.

The issue is whether the police will enforce the law on animal cruelty where they live. Often times they don’t and of course many times they won’t know that a cat has been neglected in this way and therefore the cat becomes very ill and perhaps dies removing any last evidence against the owner.

I would expect there to be millions of cases of cat owners committing potential crimes for not taking their cat to a veterinarian in a timely manner. All of them get away with it.

Shop cats-Bodega cats

I would briefly like to touch on shop cats in reference to the above discussion. I like Bodega cats. I like to see cats in shops. Perhaps they were stray cats given a home by the shopkeeper. This is good. But it is likely that many Bodega cats do not receive the veterinary care that they need. This might be because the connection between owner, the shopkeeper, and the cat is quite loose and it is not a genuine owner/cat relationship.

I believe that this issue needs to be addressed but it won’t be because if they were stray cats at least their lives are better being Bodega cats.

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