Cat and eight kittens found dumped in a suitcase

Article by RSPCA teams, 14th March 2017:

We are investigating after a cat and her eight kittens were found abandoned inside a zipped-up suitcase on a disused railway line in Essex.

The black and white cat, now named Tarini, and her five week-old babies were discovered by a passing dog walker in a remote spot between Great Yeldham and Castle Hedingham in Halstead, Essex on Tuesday, 7 March. They were inside a navy blue case with a Polo logo.

We were called and rescued Tarini and her kittens, after the passer by picked up the case and took them home for safety.

It was pure chance they were found

RSPCA Animal Collections Officer (ACO) Donna Smith said:

It was pure chance that this woman happened to find these little kittens and their mum.

She was walking along the disused rail track when she wandered past a dumped suitcase, not thinking anything of it until her dog stopped and started sniffing it.

She took a closer look and heard tiny miaows coming from the case, so opened the zip a tiny bit – and was shocked to discover nine pairs of eyes peering back.

The mother cat and eight kittens had been just zipped up in the case and discarded. Who knows how long they had been there – it must have been terrifying for them. It would not have ended well had this kindly woman not come to their rescue – I have no doubt they would have suffered for days.

Tarini is recovering well with her kittens

Blue suitcase cat and kittens were found in © RSPCA

We’re urging anyone with any information about how the cats came to be in such a secluded spot to call us, in complete confidence, on 0300 123 8018.

The cats are now in our care. They were all very thin, and looked to not have had much food for a while. Tarini had to be put on a drip, and received intensive care at the vets as she was also very dehydrated. She’s since recovered well and is back at an Essex centre with her kittens.

The kittens have all been named after characters from Disney film The Aristocats:

  • Toulouse (male, tabby/white),
  • Tiny Tim (male black/white),
  • Scat Cat (male, tabby),
  • Berloiz (male, black),
  • Alli (male tabby),
  • Duchess (female tabby),
  • Marie (female, black),
  • Eve (female tabby).

It’s hoped they will soon be available for rehoming. Anyone interested in rehoming them, or any other cats in our care, should keep an eye out on find a pet.

Article taken from: https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/details/-/articleName/2017_03_14_cat_and_kittens_found


Dog fights prompt 5,000 calls to RSPCA in past decade

Nearly 5,000 calls about organised dog fighting in England and Wales have been made to the RSPCA since 2006, according to figures released to the BBC.


The charity said there had been a total of 137 convictions in the same period.

The maximum sentence for offenders is six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine, but campaigners want it to be raised to up to three years.

Brian Wheelhouse, who runs a dog rescue centre, said offenders only cared about financial gain and not about the dog.

Eduardo Goncalves, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Evidence from the UK and abroad points to the activity being a ‘gateway’ crime to serious and organised offences, such as drug and gun crime.

“In the United States dog fighting is recognised as a Grade A felony by the FBI.”

France applies a sentence of up to two years, and Germany and the Czech Republic apply a sentence of up to three years.

Mike Butcher, chief inspector of the RSCPA’s special operations unit, said: “The idea of a six-month sentence is a joke. The idea that you only serve half of what you get is even more of a joke.

“It’s no deterrent at all.”

The RSPCA said the highest number of calls it had received had been in Greater London (924), followed by the West Midlands (469), West Yorkshire (305) and Greater Manchester (238).

Rural counties are also affected, including the areas of Kent, Essex and Lancashire.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said there were “strict laws in place” to deal with people who were not properly looking after animals.

A spokesman said: “Anyone who is cruel to an animal or does not provide for its welfare needs may be banned from owning animals, given an unlimited fine or sent to prison.”

Campaigners including the League Against Cruel Sports, the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, along with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have all called for tougher sentencing as a deterrent.

Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard, the NPCC’s lead for dangerous dogs, said “this kind of animal abuse” caused “untold distress and harm to the animals involved”.

Brian Wheelhouse with Benji
Brian Wheelhouse said Benji had sustained injuries around his face and neck

Brian Wheelhouse, of Whitehall Dog Rescue, Wakefield

We had a call from the dog compound. There was concern because this dog had obviously been used for dog fighting, or as dog bait, with the injuries it had sustained.

A dog that attacks another dog will go for the jugular vein – for the neck – so Benji has got injuries all around his neck, [and] around his face.

Dog fighting is done by individuals that are fighting them for financial gain.

They’re not bothered what happens to the dog at the end of the day as long as it wins.

They’re not bothered about the injuries because they’re not going to be taking it to the vets and having it treated.

They’ll leave it to heal up by itself. If the dog dies then so be it.

To inflict injuries and do horrible things on these poor creatures just beggar’s belief.

Kittens as bait

Last year, two kittens were found in Bradford with their fur coloured using marker pens.

It is thought they were to have been used as bait in a dog fight, where people would have bet on which one would have died first.

Coloured-in kitten
Kittens found in Bradford last year are thought to have been used as dog fighting bait

Katie Lloyd, Bradford Cat Watch Rescue

They came in through a police officer who’d been to a property and seized them.

We’d never seen anything quite like it before – one was coloured blue with a marker pen, and one was green.

Thankfully nothing terrible had happened before they came to us.

We believe that they may have been coloured in to be used for dog fighting.

It was horrendous and we were thinking those cats were probably minutes away from being ripped to shreds by dogs, and they were tiny.

We’re aware of other incidents where cats have been used as bait for dog fighting.

Article taken from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38653726?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/14745d1f-885d-4b9f-b28a-24540e7beb15/animals&link_location=live-reporting-story


Hopes for saving Scottish wildcat rest on captive breeding plan

Conservationists say about 80 creatures in zoos and private collections hold key to re-establishment of the endangered species

A Scottish wildcat in the snow.
The Scottish wildcat is listed as critically endangered. Photograph: National Trust for Scotland/PA 

Fewer than 100 Scottish wildcats are now believed to exist in the wild, say leading experts, with no evidence of any decent sized populations anywhere in the country.

While it had been hoped up to 300 may still survive, recent extensive monitoring suggests a lower figure, with individuals or small groups clinging on in isolated and fragmented pockets.

Hopes for saving the species, often referred to as the “tiger of the Highlands”, now largely rest on captive breeding and rewilding, said conservationists, who are working with experts who successfully brought the Iberian lynx back from the brink in Spain and Portugal.

About 80 captive wildcats in zoos, wildlife parks and private collections around the UK now hold the key to the successful re-establishment of viable populations of the muscular brown and black-striped cat, which resembles a domestic tabby.

Genetic testing of all those captive cats was completed in October. Data is now being fed into a new molecular stud book, similar to that used for the giant panda, which will determine which captive cats are related and which are best matched for breeding.

Once the stud book is operational, in the coming months, it will help establish a quantity of the highest quality genetically diverse cats. Mixed with genes from cats already in the wild, through artificial insemination or through capture of the most vulnerable cats, it will produce a population of wildcats suitable for release into the wild.

It is hoped the first trial releases will happen within five years.

The Scottish wildcat is listed as critically endangered. “Next is extinct in the wild and the next is extinct full stop,” said David Barclay, who manages the conservation breeding programme at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, one of several agencies involved in the Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) conservation plan, backed by Scottish National Heritage.

The main threat has been hybridisation – breeding with feral or domestic cats. Those in the wild tend to have less gene purity than captive cats not exposed to hybridisation.

“The population of wildcats estimated in the wild is horribly low,” said Barclay. One estimate, within the last five years, put the number between 100-300. “To be honest, I think it is under 100,” said Barclay.

Recent camera trap monitoring of six priority sites, thought to be ideal wildcat habitat, revealed just 19 possible cats out of 200,000 images, said Vicky Burns of the SWA.

Captive cats selected for possible release will be transferred to special conservation breeding enclosures. A prototype is currently being tested at the Highland wildlife park within the Cairngorms national park. Placed at least half a mile from the nearest paths, out of view of the public, these large enclosures will gradually allow the cats to be rewilded.

Pairing wild cats with captive cats will introduce wild behaviour, and the gradual introduction of live prey will trigger instinct and perfect skills, it is hoped. Human contact will be at an absolute minimum, with the cats spending up to two years in the enclosures, and their kittens better equipped for wilderness survival.

The breeding plan is not without its critics, who claim capturing wildcats and introducing them to captive cats will kill off the wild population.

Barclay said there was a lack of understanding about the project, and the facts spoke for themselves.

No wildcats would be captured in the six priority areas for fear of harming any populations there. Instead, semen would be taken from adult males. In less hospitable areas, where an isolated cat might be spotted on private land, it made sense to remove it.

“If there is a wildcat just clinging on, surrounded by feral cats, and at high risk from other issues, we want to bring it into captivity, wrap it up in cotton wool and for it to be beneficial to the captive population and a source for further animals that can be released in future,” he said.

“Without the safety net of the captive population, and the semen samples stored, then the future of wildcats is incredibly bleak. I honestly think these insurance policies are the only ones that are going to save the species.”

Along with the planned releases, SWA is undertaking a vast programme neutering feral cats in the priority areas. This would continue. There is evidence from Europe that once a sizable wildcat population is established – perhaps 40 or 50 cats – feral cats stay away, thus reducing future risk of hybridisation.

Another measure is exploring a change in Scottish legislation. Dogs must now have microchips, so one option would be to extend that to domestic cats.

Saving the wildcat will not be cheap. There is Scottish government and lottery funding of £2.5m over five years for initial research and rewilding, but costs will be ongoing. The hope is it will boost local economies and bring in tourist pounds, as well as put Scotland on the global map as a leader in conservation.

“As a country we want to be able to say we care about our landscape, we care about our environment, about the diversity. We do want to conserve our native species, we don’t want to have a country a bit like Australia that has been overrun with no native animals,” said Barclay.

“When we make the decision we don’t really care about our wildlife, or we don’t want to do that project because it is too controversial or it costs too much money, then we are bordering on giving up on the environment in Scotland,” he said.

Article taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/26/hopes-for-saving-scottish-wildcat-rest-on-captive-breeding-plan


Hotel staff ‘beat kitten to death with rolling pin’ after it got trapped in their kitchen and peed

A hotel has been accused of shoving a cat in a plastic bag before beating it to death with a rolling pin after it got trapped in their kitchen.

Bosses at the Royal Oak Hotel in Betwys-y-Coed, north Wales, admitted killing the kitten, but insisted in a now-deleted Facebook status that it was ‘humanely euthanised’.

However, they have refused to elaborate on how the animal met its end.

It has been claimed by many in the area that a young stray cat went into the kitchen and ate a bit of food. The cat reportedly became scared after getting trapped inside and peed in the kitchen.

After finding the cat and the urine, it is then alleged that the staff put the animal into a plastic bag, bludgeoned it to death with a rolling pin and smashed its body against the wall.

The RSPCARSPCA has confirmed it is investigating the hotel over the killing of the cat.

The RSPCA confirmed that it is investigating the claims (Picture: Getty Images)
The RSPCA confirmed that it is investigating the claims (Picture: Getty Images)

Glen Evans, head of the hotel, told local newspaper the Daily Post that he didn’t believe the staff had broken the law in killing the animal.

‘In hindsight of course I wish things were dealt with differently,’ he said. ‘But unless new information comes to light, the staff have not done anything unlawful.’

Claims that the cat met a horrific end were posted on the hotel’s Facebook page, which has since been deleted. However, their separate restaurant page is still live and has been flooded with one-star reviews.

The stray cat, not pictured, was killed by hotel staff (Picture: Getty Images)
The stray cat, not pictured, was killed by hotel staff (Picture: Getty Images)

One commenter, Jan King, wrote: ‘I am appalled to have read of the sub-human way that the poor kitten was bludgeoned to death by your staff. I hope the karma police are visiting you as I type, I also hope that you do get boycotted. I for one would never, ever want to stay around your sort. Disgusting.’

Another, Sooz McLean, added: ‘There is a reason that sweet, innocent, defenceless kitten was feral – the truth is it was either abandoned by someone or was born that way.

‘Just the same as any other normal living animal he/she needed food and unfortunately ended up at your business, looking for food and maybe a kind hand to help, care for and love him/her.

‘And what did you do – you battered that kitten to death inside a bag.’

The statement posted to the hotel's now-deleted Facebook page (Picture: Facebook)
The statement posted to the hotel’s now-deleted Facebook page (Picture: Facebook)

In a statement on the Royal Oak’s now-deleted Facebook page, the hotel said: ‘It was with regret that the feral cat was humanely euthanised as lawfully provided for when dealing with any animal legally classified as vermin.

‘Having reflected upon their actions, the staff involved understand why such an incident will upset people as the destruction of any animal is regrettable no matter what the circumstances.’

A spokesman for RSPCA Cymru told Metro.co.uk: ‘We can confirm that we are investigating reports about the death of a cat in the Betws-Y-Coed area. This is an on-going investigation, and we cannot comment further at this time.

‘We urge any member of the public with information to contact our 24-hour Cruelty Line on 0300 1234 999.’

Article taken from: http://metro.co.uk/2016/12/08/hotel-staff-beat-kitten-to-death-with-rolling-pin-after-it-got-trapped-in-their-kitchen-and-peed-6308994/?ito=facebook

Related story: Betws y Coed hotel staff SACKED after feral cat death (Daily Post)


UK floods: getting the animals out

Hundreds of animals are thought to have drowned in the floods before Christmas in Cumbria.

Dog being rescued from floods

With many other parts of northern England now being affected we speak to the team whose job it is to save pets and livestock from rising waters.
Jason Finch coordinates the RSPCA‘s Water Rescue Unit.

He has currently deployed 15 technicians out to areas around Preston, Leeds and York.

Kitted out with specialist equipment Jason says they are trained to deal with animals in situations like this. We use wading boats with guys in dry suits. They can take the boat in the water and also wade through to get to properties. They carry lots of animal rescue kit, crates and things to put the animals in.”


The jobs vary from simply getting people’s pets out of houses to rescuing flocks of sheep in flooded fields.

“Sheep are particularly susceptible to fatalities in flooding situations,” Jason explains. Their fleeces get soaked in water and so heavy that they can’t swim.”

Earlier this month a video went viral of a sheepdog in Cumbria rescuing its flock from rising flood waters.

No job is too small for the RSPCA though. In these latest floods in Yorkshire they even saved a mole from drowning.

“It was doing its best to swim against the current, down a flooded street,” Jason says. “They managed to scoop it up and take it to higher ground.”

But some animals don’t make it. In the recent Cumbria floods a horse drowned despite the team’s best efforts to save it.

Jason says it illustrates how dangerous these situations are: “If an animal the size of a horse can get swept away. You should be very careful.”

Local fire services and mountain rescue teams have also been helping to make animals safe.

It’s not just animals though, the RSPCA team are often called on to rescue people too.

“What we tend to find is people don’t want to leave their houses without their animals so they try to stay behind then all of a sudden it gets too dangerous to stay. We have removed a lot of people with pets in their houses. One guy in particular who had a heart attack was rescued by the RSPCA and one couple stranded in a school with their dog in about ten feet of flood water.”

For those people worried about their pets in similar situations, the advice from the RSPCA is to be prepared.

Jason advises owners to “make sure you’ve got lots of pet food in. Make sure you’ve got pet carriers. Think about what you’re going to do with your animals if your house does get flooded. If you have to leave your house the ideal scenario is that you take your pets with you. If that’s not possible confine them in an upstairs room with plenty of food and water to last at least three to four days.”

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/35186429/uk-floods-getting-the-animals-out


RSPCA says we shouldn’t be dressing up our dogs in costumes this Christmas

The following article appeared in BBC’s Newsbeat:

WARNING: The following article contains pictures of dogs in outfits and hats.

Dogs in Christmas costumes

Be honest, the sight of a Jack Russell hopping across someone’s bed in a Santa’s little helper outfit on Facebook does make you crack a smile.


Why wouldn’t it? Well, according to Dr Samantha Gaines from the RSPCA, the dog isn’t smiling, or in on the joke.

“The RSPCA certainly doesn’t want to come across as party poopers, we don’t want to come across as the fashion police either,” she says.
“For some dogs being in a costume can be particularly scary, or worrying, especially if there are bits on the costume that the dog isn’t used to that are flapping around.”

“Dogs use signals to tell us what they’re feeling, they use their ears, their tails, body positions and their eyes. If we start to cover those up it makes it very difficult for them to communicate with us and other dogs.”

Samantha claims it’s a seasonal problem, typically around Halloween and Christmas when distressed animals appear online.

“In some costumes where they’re completely covered we can’t see how they’re feeling, and that in itself is a cause for concern.

So what if you briefly put a turkey hat on your pooch for that amusing photo? Apparently that’s not OK either.


“Putting a hat on a dog still restricts its ability to tell you how it’s feeling. The RSPCA’s general position is not to put costumes on dogs.”

But fear not, what with it being winter and all… it appears dog coats still have a role to play.

“If you’ve got a particularly old dog, a young dog that is ill or particularly short haired, and more susceptible to the cold in winter, then yes, we would expect and hope that people put on an item of clothing like a coat to keep that dog warm.”

In short if it can still use tail, head, ears and show its body position, you’re OK.

So if you can’t give your pet that complete Chrimbo look, the charity has come up with some, if slightly obvious, advice.

In a statement it suggests “playing a fun game or going for a walk” with your pet.

Christmas will never be the same.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/35120611/rspca-says-we-shouldnt-be-dressing-up-our-dogs-in-costumes-this-christmas

So. It’s official – we shouldn’t be dressing up our pets, and all those of us who do are evil animal abusers. OK, I may be slightly paraphrasing here… but for goodness’ sake. Yep I admit, I am slightly annoyed that one of the leading animal welfare charities in the UK has now made me feel guilty about showing, what I feel to be, nothing but adoration and glee towards my fluffy companions. The fact they may very well be right… I’m choosing to gloss over that for now.

It’s not just Christmas time, and it’s not just dogs – my array of pets have been dressed up for as long as they’ve been unfortunate enough to share a home with me. I don’t mean to any sort of weird extremes – they don’t waddle around in tutus or anything like that – but birthdays, Christmas, any sort of other themed festivities and you can bet my cat Crumble will be wearing a hat. The fact she looks miserable is not the point. In fact, it’s almost become her signature look.

Crumble expressing joy at her most recent birthday hat

The reason I am not flagellating myself and taking Crumble to therapy following the RSPCA’s statement is because quite honestly, Crumble is one of the most spoiled, pampered, adored and contented animals I’ve ever known. And I would bet a large pile of cat hair – seriously, take it – that for everyone reading this, they feel exactly the same way.

The RSPCA references the fact dogs “use signals to tell us what they’re feeling, they use their ears, their tails, body positions and their eyes. If we start to cover those up it makes it very difficult for them to communicate with us and other dogs.” They also, if they’re anything like the dogs I’ve had, will simply point blank refuse to wear the costume in the first place if they really don’t want to.

Admittedly there is a sliding scale here. If you have a nervous dog and you stick it in an ill fitting Santa outfit, then leave it stuck (literally) in said outfit all day then yes, that’s pretty cruel. But are those kinds of people really the ones RSPCA is aiming their statement at? Surely there are more effective ways to get such a message across to those people as, if a dog is stuck in a miserable costume all day and is clearly stressed, then I would suggest the owners perhaps aren’t as caring towards their pet as they should be. But come on – this does strike me as slightly extreme… what about you?

Do you dress your pet up at all? Does your pet/s love or hate it? Where do you stand on the RSPCA’s comments?

I’m not berating the RSPCA for their standpoint on this issue, really I’m not. I support the organisation enormously and think good for them for raising issues which are seen as less popular as the usual fluffy puppy campaigns. I just think we have bigger battles to wage here in the fight against animal cruelty, and I think rather than blanketing all pet owner who dress their beloved companions up, it could perhaps have been more effective had they offered some simple advice, based on a sliding scale of costumery.

Can your pet breathe?

  • Yes – well done.
  • No – bad pet owner.

Is your pet twitching, crying, or looking like it wants to lamp you one?

  • Yes – you need help, get it out the bloody costume now and stop being so stupid. Then give it a hug.
  • No – good stuff.

Is your dog wagging its tail or cat purring while wearing said costume?

  • Yes – wonderful, see if you can stick a hat on.
  • No – hmmm. Perhaps not your audience.

And at the end of all of this I would suggest never, ever leave a costume on for more than a few minutes. In the case of Crumble, the hat stays on her head literally long enough to take a photo – and after five years, she is well used to the routine. Don’t leave the outfit on your animal all day. Just use some common sense, and think how you’d feel. Especially in the case of the dog above in the giant turkey.

Most importantly, have a lovely festive season. May you and your fluffies wear as many ridiculous outfits as you want to, and as few as your collective reputation can stand.


The truth about animal charities, cats and dogs

Article by William MacAskill and Amanda MacAskill for The Guardian UK:

As we approach December – the month when almost a third of all charitable giving for the year takes place – many of us might be wondering where we should be sending our charitable donations. Some of us will choose to give to charities such as Against Malaria Foundation, which helps to protect people in the developing world from a disease that kills almost 3,000 children every day. And yet, despite the great needs of humans around the world, many people will choose to donate to charities that help animals. In fact, it has recently been reported by the Mirror that “bequests to animal charities beat donations to human causes”, and that donations bequeathed to animals “dwarfed” those going to vulnerable and abused children.

kitten in hand

Is it true that donations to animal charities outstrip donations to human charities in the UK? The simple answer is no. The Charities Aid Foundation, which surveys people about the donations that they have made in the last 12 months, found that in 2014 only 7% of the total amount that people donated went to animal charities. This is much lower than donations to human-focused charities such as medical charities, children’s charities, and hospitals, overseas charities, and religious charities. These five causes collectively received 62% of total donations, and every one of these causes individually received more than animal charities did.

But what about bequests to charities that people make in their wills: do animal charities sweep up the biggest share of these types of donations? Again, the answer is no. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations reports that in 2009-2010, environmental charities, which includes animal charities, received only 22% of all legacy donations, while social services, research, and health charities jointly received 62% of legacy donations. The animal charity that received by far the most legacy donations was the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (£74.9m), which received less than either Cancer Research UK (£157.4m) or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (£93.8m).

Of course, some individual animal charities do receive more than some individual human charities, as the Mirror article highlights. But this is pretty uninformative if what we want to know is whether animal or human charities received more money. When we look at the numbers, it’s clear that donations to human charities dwarf donations to animal charities, and not the other way around.

Although animal charities receive less money than charities that help humans, animal causes are clearly important to many people. So if you want to help animals, what should you do? As the Charities Aid Foundation survey shows, most people find it difficult to know which charities to give to when there are so many charities out there, and they also want to know that their money is actually helping. This is where effective giving comes in. When we give effectively, we give to those charities that we have the best evidence are making the biggest difference in a given cause area.

If we want to donate to charities that make the biggest difference to animals, it’s important for us to realise that animal suffering and death don’t just affect domestic animals such as dogs and cats. In fact, Animal Charity Evaluators – an organisation that researches the effectiveness of different animal charities – points out that for every individual dog or cat euthanised in shelters in the US, about 360 farm animals were killed. In the UK alone, about 90 million chickens are slaughtered every month. And 94% of these are raised intensively in sheds that contain about 17 chickens per square metre. Farm animals such as pigs, cows and chickens are capable of sadness and joy, just as cats and dogs are. But they are suffering and dying at much greater rates, and are receiving a tiny proportion of current donations to animal charities.

The good news is that more research is being done into how we can most effectively help animals, and our donations may be able to go a long way.

Just as with human-focused charities, there are huge differences between how much good different animal charities do. And even if we are not likely to give the majority of our money to animal charities this giving season or in our wills, we can do a lot of good by giving the money that we do choose to donate more effectively.

Article taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/19/charity-animals-cats-dog