Kittens face surgery after paws hacked off

Innocent victim: this eight-week-old kitten had his left-hind foot cut off.
Innocent victim: this eight-week-old kitten had his left-hind foot cut off.

Two tiny kittens are slowly recovering after having paws cut off - believed to be by children using a knife or scissors.

The kittens survived their "horrendous" injuries, but are now facing major surgery to have a hind leg and part of a hip amputated.

The children, both aged under 10, giggled when they left the kittens at a Wellington Cats Protection League foster home, saying that the kittens' "feet fell off". But a vet's verdict is that the feet were "traumatically removed".

The children and their parents left the animal foster home without giving their names.

The committee member who runs the home has informed the SPCA, but a spokesperson says they cannot investigate without more information.

The eight week-old kittens are recovering well, but need to grow bigger before they have a hope of surviving the required surgery.

Both kittens are missing their left-hind foot. A veterinarian's notes say the leg of the smaller, black male "ends abruptly at the extreme distal tibia" the kitten's ankle.

The slightly larger black-and-white male was cut across the top of his foot his leg "ends abruptly across the proximal metatarsals".

The kittens were very quiet when the vet first saw them and the stumps were "swollen and inflamed". It was thought they might die from the trauma.

The volunteer who runs the home said for a long time her children could not bear to look at the kittens. "[The kittens] don't know they don't have feet. The cruellest thing is when you see it lying on its back and it's got its little stump and it's trying to scratch its chin.

"They're as friendly as - they try and climb up you and everything. It's horrible because you can feel the stumps on you... you can feel the jagged bit at the end.

"The other day we just heard [one of the kittens] scream and it had stood on a piece of kitty litter and it had stuck into its little stump ... it got infected."

The stumps have to be carefully bathed every day. The woman, who declined to be named, said she had taken in more injured cats in the last three months than in the past nine years put together.

"I just can't believe there's so many. They're all so horrendous," she said. "It just never seems to stop."

Other recent cases include a kitten whose tail was chopped off by a child with scissors. That kitten survived, but was deeply traumatised. "He was black and white and he's now turning grey." Another kitten was brought to her after being attacked with a hammer the owner had killed the rest of the litter, but this one somehow survived.

The volunteer found a third kitten in a box at her door, tangled so tightly in fishing line it was bleeding.

"The noise it was making... I cut the fishing line off and within minutes it died. My only consolation was it had stopped howling."

The league is about to launch a campaign for owners to get their cats desexed last year 500 operations were performed and this year it is determined to raise enough money to double that to 1000.

Recent high-profile incidents of animal cruelty have included the attack last month on a sheep by three Auckland teenagers who allegedly blew off its jaw with fireworks, and the abduction of a 14-year-old dog in Wellington which was then seriously injured when used as bait for fighting pitbull terriers.

The Cats Protection League will pay for the kittens' operations.

Donations or inquiries can be made at www.cpl-wellington.org.nz or posted to PO Box 12157, Thorndon, Wellington.

Sunday Star Times