Thursday, 24 May 2007


We received a telephone call about 10 days ago from a lady who had been feeding a stray cat for about a fortnight. The cat was very nervous and wouldn't approach her, but the lady could see that the cat had her leg caught through her collar, which was eating into her flesh, giving off a putrid smell and causing her great discomfort. Just to add to the situation, it had become apparent that the cat was heavily pregnant.

We were able to lend the caller one of our traps, and with the help of a nearly full tin of tuna, the cat was caught that very same night. What a relief for all concerned!! The lady's little daughter asked if the cat could be called Faye.

We took Faye straight to our vets where the collar was removed and the wound examined. In some ways she was very lucky - although the wound was infected and covered a big area, it was not deep, which gives it a better chance to granulate and heal.

Faye was kept at the vets for a couple of days for observation and her wound was washed several times to remove the dirt and infection.

The collar was a cat flea collar, with about an inch of elastic, which had completely lost its elasticity. The buckle part was completely rusted, whether as a result of being inside the wound, or because it had been on for a long time, we can't tell.

To our surprise the cat was microchipped. Our initial excitement about this soon wore off when her owners, instead of being concerned about her injury and delighted to have her back, indicated that they didn't want her and had given her away some time ago, even though they couldn't say to whom they'd given her. Legally, to cover ourselves, we had to ask them to sign her over to us, and we were disappointed that they didn't seem to care about her condition, nor ask how she was.

Faye is recovering nicely. She has to have cage rest so that she doesn't stretch her injury, and she is a bit bored, but the wound is healing well. By the time the kittens have been born, weaned and ready to leave her, hopefully the wound will be fully recovered and we can find her a new home too.

But how needless all this is. Why oh why didn't her original owners have her neutered? Why didn't they change the address details if indeed they did rehome her? And why did they put a collar on her that not only had been on too long, but didn't have any identification on it.

There is a lot of debate in the cat world about whether collars are good for cats - many people have had their lost cats returned thanks to id on a collar, but others have seen their cats suffer injury due to a collar, such as has happened here with Faye.

It is up to each individual owner to weigh the pros and cons of collars, but we would recommend two things to owners who use collars - firstly, make sure there is id on the collar, preferably a small engraved disc and secondly, use a safety-release collar so that if the cat's leg does become caught, there is a good chance the collar will pop off and thus avoid injury.

And remember, flea collars only treat the upper body area of the cat - they have little effect on the lower body, and you should not use any other flea products in conjunction with a flea collar.

We'll keep you posted about Faye, and let you know when her babies come along.