It was a tale of suffering that shocked animal lovers but things are looking up for a pair of Hampshire cats.
As reported in the Daily Echo, Daisy the cat was swung like a yoyo by her owner Matthew Coffin, who was banned from keeping pets for ten years at Southampton Magistrates Court as a result.
Now Daisy and his other cat Charlie are being kept at a sanctuary in East Hampshire and are looking forward to a new home.
Mr Coffin, 27, of Vanguard Road, Townhill Park, was also given a 12-month community order including 150 hours of unpaid work.
It was a sentence welcomed by national charity Cats Protection, which has a volunteer-run office in Southampton.
Dominic Sullivan, Cats Protection’s director of legal services, said: “Cats Protection is truly shocked by the casual cruelty and suffering inflicted on this cat; it is baffling. Like the RSPCA, we are pleased with the verdict and the ten-year ban.
“However, we know that many of our supporters will feel that a 12-month community order, including 150 hours of unpaid work, is too lenient. The maximum penalty on conviction for causing unnecessary suffering is six months imprisonment and/or a £20,000 fine.”
But such incidents of cruelty are rare, according to Maggie Roberts, director of veterinary services, who said most cat stress is caused by owners without knowing it.
She said: “Thankfully cases of either deliberate cruelty or where people just have no understanding of the degree of harm they are causing are not common. We have to acknowledge that most people have enough common sense to know that something like bouncing a cat up and down or swinging it by its tail is completely inappropriate.
“It’s just bonkers people think this behaviour is OK. People forget a tail is the equivalent of a limb to a cat and would you hang one by its legs?
“We don’t always realise the tail is an extension of the spine so you could dislocate a vertebrae or damage nerves by doing something like this.”
She added: “We tend to think cats like lots of cats around them, like we like having friends, but in reality they can find them quite threatening because they are territorial animals. Most often they will tolerate other cats’ company, but tolerance is usually all it is.
“Cats really only want to play in short bursts and their favourite type of play is hunting because it releases endorphins.
“They like furry toys they can chase or things dangling from fishing rods because it nurtures their hunting behaviour.
“But they are the ultimate control freaks and we have to respect that. Different cats like different amounts of play. We can stroke their heads and backs but be gentle and only for as long as they are happy for you to do it or else you might get a reaction.”
Anyone with concerns about cat welfare in Southampton can call Cats Protection on 0845 371 2718.