Cat branded with swastika

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 14:27 16/09/2013
Daniel Tobin

Jess McGiffin's cat Turbo came home with a shaved head and a swastika on its back.

Turbo the cat
Jess McGiffin
BRANDED: The Nazi symbol was drawn on Turbo's shaved back with a marker pen.

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A Christchurch cat was abducted, had his whiskers shaved off and a swastika drawn on his back in a ''bizarre'' attack last night.

The cat's owner, Burnside photographer Jess McGiffin, posted images of the damage on Facebook, which have attracted hundreds of shares and comments, many expressing outrage.

McGiffin, 24, said she and husband James were at home watching television about 9pm when 1-year-old Turbo jumped on her lap.

When she started patting him, he felt different.

She looked down and found Turbo had been shaved on his back, forehead, legs and other patches over his body.

Whiskers from his nose, ears and eyebrows were also gone.

What was worse, his attackers had used a vivid marker to draw the Nazi symbol on his shaved back.

''It had obviously just happened. I just cried,'' she said. ''It's so horrible. I just couldn't believe it.''

At first, she feared it was a racial message aimed at her husband, as he is Filipino.

They washed off the swastika immediately after taking photos.

Now, she presumed it was simply children thinking it was a joke.

McGiffin said her cat stayed close to home, but was so friendly he would likely have gone willingly with anyone.

''The scariest bit is they took my cat off the street, took him somewhere [and] held him down,'' she said.

''When he was two months old he got stuck in a fence and we had to remove his tail. Now he is tail-less, whisker-less and has shaved spots.''

An electric razor had been used in the incident.

McGiffin's husband had gone driving in the area to see if he could spot who may be responsible, but found no one.
They are now keeping Turbo inside until his whiskers grow back.

She had reported the incident to police and the SPCA.

SPCA Canterbury chief executive Barry Helem called the incident ''bizarre'' and ''very bad taste''.

The shaving would be an offence under the Animal Welfare Act if the cat was in distress or pain while it was being shaved. This would require a witness coming forward.

Cats relied on whiskers for spatial awareness. While they could survive without them, they were ''there for a reason''.

''You shake your head sometimes at what people do,'' Helem said.

''This is a newbie for me and hopefully the last. The message is offensive in itself. There is no need for it."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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