RSPCA zealots force owners to put down their cat because of matted fur

This is another example of misguided zealotry by an RSPCA inspector. It is quite shocking. The story concerns a Turkish Van cat living in Tring, Hertfordshire, England. In Europe and America the Turkish Van is a semi-long-haired purebred cat.

This particular cat’s name was Claude. He was 16 years old and therefore with long hair it sometimes became matted. This is normal for an elderly cat because they find it difficult to groom and it can be difficult for cat caretakers to prevent matting taking place. Essentially, it requires daily grooming and even that might not be enough sometimes. Even the veterinarian was unable to groom Claude without putting him under anaesthetic. I can understand that too. It’s about high standard preventative grooming which I fully admit can be difficult to maintain. It is not a sign of bad cat caretaking to have a very old cat with matted fur, in my opinion.

Anyway Claude’s owners, Mr & Mrs Byrnes, were unable to keep Claude’s fur from matting. However, Mrs Byrnes kept her cat’s coat in reasonable condition by snipping away the matted bits while Claude slept.

Claude used to go out occasionally and a neighbour spotted his coat and made a complaint to the RSPCA. I don’t mind people making complaints about cat abuse but I think this neighbour was misguided as well. The neighbour could have at least discussed the matter with Mr & Mrs Byrnes which would have avoided this farce and saved Claude’s life as it happens.

Well the RSPCA turned up and seized Claude and insisted that his was put down by a veterinarian. The RSPCA inspector threatened Mr & Mrs Byrnes:

“If you two don’t authorise that the vet can euthanise Claude then there is an option of overriding that decision where I can go to the police who will authorise it for me.”

The RSPCA inspector then threatened the owners with a possible criminal conviction and subsequent fine and/or possible imprisonment etc.. Mrs Byrnes was in tears. In addition the RSPCA inspector forbade the two children of the family from saying their goodbyes to Claude.

The veterinarian involved could not see a reason why Claude should be euthanised. Claude was thin and his fur was matted but that in itself is not enough – obviously. In the end, the cat owners agreed that Claude could be put down because they were under the cosh and from their point of view they had no choice it seems to me.

In addition, and in any case, it was likely that Claude would have to be euthanised after the summer but they wanted their cat to have one last good summer. There was no sign as I understand it that Claude was in discomfort or had any serious, chronic illness requiring immediate action.

After Claude was put to sleep (actually killed), last May, the RSPCA issued legal proceedings for cruelty against Mr Mrs Byrnes. The overzealous and rather nasty behaviour of the RSPCA in this instance was brought to a halt by the Crown Prosecution Service who refused to prosecute the case because it was deemed not to be in the public interest. Common sense prevailed.

I don’t think that it takes the lawyers of the Crown Prosecution Service to decide that this was a ridiculously misguided process in two parts firstly to kill a cat that was reasonably healthy albeit very old and possibly frail and then to prosecute the owners on two charges of animal cruelty. If Mr & Mrs Byrnes had been prosecuted for animal cruelty then you could prosecute half of the cat owners in the UK.

Mr & Mrs Byrnes are clearly, to anyone with some common sense, reasonable cat caretakers. It is unforgivable I think that the RSPCA should have put them, their cat and their children through this ordeal.

It is similar to a previously ridiculous example of misuse of animal welfare legislation upon which this website reported some time ago. See also RSPCA stole my cats.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

22 thoughts on “RSPCA zealots force owners to put down their cat because of matted fur”

  1. What a terrible shame there is no consistency with the RSPCA and that is why I never donate because I hear of too many cases where they do nothing. I hope someone from the RSPCA is watching ‘Dangerous Dogs’ and they prosecute that crack head Moron who was breeding his bitch time and again and selling the puppies off for £60 per time as young as five or six weeks old to feed his habit but they probably won’t.

    I’ve had many traumatic dealings with them mostly involving strays including one instance where a stray cat died in my arms with his foot hanging by a thread after being run over. I waited an hour for them to come out.

    I feel deeply sorry for Claude and his owners and he should never have been killed.

    1. Yes, well said. I think this case concerns an individual RSPCA inspector who frankly was no good at least on this occasion. There was probably an argument and the RSPCA inspector become aggressive and angry and abused her authority. They have to be balanced and neutral like police officers. That was not the case in this instance.

      I have had poor dealings with the RSPCA in not coming out for clear cut cases when they should have come out concerning a fox and a duck. I got them out for the fox eventually.

      1. I’m glad you managed to get them out eventually Michael poor Foxy 🙁

        The thing is they seem to have the utmost patience with the most horrible violent people who have beaten and starved their animals treating the owners with Kid gloves yet when common sense, compassion and understanding is required its severely lacking.

  2. Well thats just wrong. All Over dematting?? Well I used to have a friend who had Disabilities. She had a Cat called Fluff-cause he was really fluffy. He got Matted badly he Lived to 16 Years. I Find it difficult to De-Matt My Three Cats but Especially Rebel & Smokey. As they have their Full Winter Coat on Now, which Ill post as pictures. Got Told by Vet, how to properly look after them. They said to Groom regularly especially around the back and behind. Only time I ever need to Take them to Vet when its got really Bad and cant take them out. I would say Rebel is the Most Fluffy and his fur is really thick, as Smokey is more fine. I wish I could show you all so hard to explain.

        1. Your cats are beautiful. I believe that long haired cats should be groomed daily without fail and if the cat is old it could be twice daily. That might sound like too much but it is is amazing how quickly matts form in older cats. And once formed they are impossible to remove without cutting them out.

          It makes me wonder what happens to the wild cats. They don’t get matted fur. Perhaps domestic long haired cats have evolved to have fur that is too long. A mistake.

          1. Hi there Michael Thanks. Yes I believe they need doing twice a day. As the Matts, Matt very easily especially in the Winter Time. I just wanted to show a Photo of what they look like with Full Winter Coat. Smokey is 7 Years old now is Starting to become Older. Its hard to believe Michael that they are both Rescue Cats and Moggies I believe. I think Rebel was a Wild Cat before he was domesticated. They just such lovely Loving Animals.

  3. I never support the RSPCA. I’ve known of several cases where a healthy cat was put down because their idiot inspectors couldn’t tell the difference between (a) a feral cat and a terrified pet trapped in a neighbour’s house, (b) an elderly but healthy cat on a daily strollto sniff some interesting dustbins and (c) a pedigree Devon Rex and a mangy cat.

    If the vet saw no reason to put the cat down then he is the expert, not the RSPCA officers. They are publicity-seeking, money-seeking (yet have plenty tucked away) and it’s about time someone sues them successfully and makes them wake up to the fact that being an elderly cat is not a crime.

  4. People are quick to poke their noses into other peole’s business but rarely with good intentions. I wonder why Dee’s neighbour suddenly noticed Spotty after so many years and approached with an aggressive question instead showing concern and offering help. That’s a bad attitude. and a typical starting point of problems.
    I sure hope Mrs Btyrnes proscutes the RSPCA. It’s often the case that these over-officious types don’t know the law and their responsibilities and a quick investigation will reveal several rules that he violated , and in fact his actions led to the unlawful killing of an animal.Accusations of threats and blackmail can also be considered. These officials often get away with it all because the victims allow themselves to be intimidated.

    1. No one really saw Spotty because she stayed in until about the last 1 1/2 years, when she expressed a desire to be out. At that point in her life, I was willing to give her anything her heart desired. That’s why the neighbor suddenly had an interest.
      It really could have turned ugly if my neighbor hadn’t calmed down. I was ready to fight for my old cat’s rights to the end. She was old, not sick, neglected, or abused.

    2. There’s another factor too.
      How hard did these people fight for Claude’s life?
      It would have been a fight to the finish for me.
      And, as Sarah writes, the vet’s opinion is expert.
      That should have been the final word.

      1. Good point but I think they were bowled over by the RSPCA inspector. They have powers approaching police powers and people can lose their composure and strength when in that situation. They were threatened with a criminal prosecution. If it was me I would hope I’d kick the inspector out of my home and call her bluff and fight it all the way but I don’t know.

        1. No question in my mind that I would have won for my cat.
          I’m not easily intimidated.
          Prosecuted for what when a vet finds no cause?
          Kicked to the curb, Inspector.

            1. Exactly.
              What could happen?
              The RSPA has “close” to police powers?
              Close isn’t good enough. If they have no authority to cuff me and haul me to jail, they have no power.
              Hopefully, they would call police who would charge me with what? Maybe, it would be for disrespect because I stuck my tongue out at the inspector.

  5. Well, this is really messed up.
    So hard to understand this poor cat being killed.
    Did that neighbor exaggerate when making the call?

    I’ve known some people who had no choice but to clip very large mats from their old cats. The poor cats looked asight, but they were healthy nonetheless. An onlooker and cat naive person may assume that such a cat is ill or mangy. But, the RSPCA should have known better. Having power can be deadly.

    Spotty, my old cat who lived over 21 years, liked to wander around outside sometimes, just strolling in the yard. I stayed out with her. I admit that she looked pretty rough, ie. some mats, thin and frail. But, with the exception of having passed a kidney stone once, she was never sick a day in her life. But, one day, my back neighbor came over very upset that I had a “very sick cat” and “What are you doing about it?” She calmed down after I explained just how old Spotty-girl was. She had never seen a cat that old before.
    In any case, at least my neighbor came to me before starting some insane ball rolling with authorities.

  6. I see this as a clear case of animal cruelty and abuse by the RSPCA. There was no legitimate reason to order the killing of Claude as stated by the vet. therefore his death was an act of animal cruelty. The inspector killed the cat, it’s as simple as that. I hope Mrs Byrnes prosecutes the RSPCA and in particular their incompetent and malicious inspector, otherwise it can happen again. I don’t think the Inspector was alone in this. It looks like he is just the visible part of a clique of nasties.

    1. therefore his death was an act of animal cruelty

      Agree. I think Mr and Mrs Byrnes should sue for criminal damage in civil law or start a private criminal prosecution against the RSPCA. The obstacle is that they consented but it was under duress. There is a case for blackmail I feel. I’d throw the book at the bloody RSPCA.

      The case is laughable and the RSPCA inspector should be sacked summarily.

  7. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    This is very sad! Claude was obviously still enjoying quality of life, going outside sometimes. I can hardly believe the RSPCA came out anyway, I think the neighbour must have greatly exaggerated the cats condition, maybe a person with a grudge against the family, or a cat hater?
    Trying to get the RSPCA out recently a friend faced a long involved barrage of questions by the woman taking the call and she then said she should contact Environmental Health and they would decide if the RSPCA were needed.
    They need to look to cases of real neglect rather than take a loved family pet not looking in top condition because of his age.

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