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.