Rehomed cats 'starved'

23:59, Oct 26 2012
Kathryn Heath with her rescued cats, Leah and Tui.
Kathryn Heath with her rescued cats, Leah and Tui.

Christchurch student Kathryn Heath has been hit with a $1400 vet bill after saving her two starved cats.

Heath, 21, was forced to give up the cats, Leah and Tui, when she moved flats three months ago. She rehoused them to a woman on Trade Me who said she had a "fabulous" farm in Rangiora.

"I interviewed her and she seemed nice," Heath said.

Heath thought the move had "gone well" until last week when she received a concerned phone call from a woman in Hornby.

"She had seen Leah outside her house for the past few months and had begun to notice she was getting thinner and sick. She was about to call the SPCA when she saw Leah's collar and immediately gave me a call."

Heath found Leah in a starved state on the property.


"I didn't recognise her. She was emaciated and manky. I called her name and she meowed at me. Even her meow sounded weak and pitiful."

She took the cat to the vet who told her Leah was "jaundiced, emaciated, dehydrated and her skin was irritated".

She had lost two-thirds of her bodyweight.

"I could feel her bones jabbing into me. She was so weak," Heath said.

Concerned about her other cat, Heath rang the new owner. The woman told Heath she actually lived in a small flat in Hornby and said Leah "hadn't bonded with her".

Heath went to the woman's home and found Tui in an equally sick state.

She took her to the vet and received a $1400 bill for both cats' treatment. A nursing student, Heath put the bill on her mother's credit card.

She text the new owner about the vet bill but was told she couldn't afford to pay "even if she wanted to".

Heath also went to the SPCA for help, but was told that because she initiated the vet treatment the bill was hers to pay, even though the cats were legally owned by the new woman.

SPCA chief executive officer Barry Helem said Heath had illegally removed the cats and "taken on financial responsibility for the cats by paying for the veterinary costs".

"Members of the public do not have the legal right to enter a property and remove animals without the owner's consent".

The Press