RSPCA warning after spate of cat poisonings in Leeds leaves felines coated in ‘deadly tar’

The RSPCA is warning pet owners in Leeds to be on their guard after several cats were poisoned by a mysterious tar-like substance.

The owner of a cat, called Buzby, was sadly forced to have her put to sleep after her health declined over a six-week period.

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Buzby returned to her home at Grove Road in Horsforth on several occasions with her fur coated with the dark substance. Her mouth became infected and she was drooling and fell into a state of lethargy, which are tell-tale signs of poisoning.

The owner of a cat, called Buzby, was sadly forced to have her put to sleep after her health declined over a six-week period. Picture: RSPCA.

Several of her owner’s neighbours have also reported their felines missing in recent weeks; one was covered in a similar unknown substance and another was found dead with what vets suspect was the result of chemical poisoning.

The RSPCA warning comes as the charity launches its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, to raise funds to help its rescue teams out on the frontline continue as the only charity rescuing animals and investigating cruelty.

Inspector Adam Dickinson, who is investigating, said: “If owners see their cats licking at a tar-like substance on their fur then they need to take action quickly as it is dangerous.

“This poor cat’s health went downhill over six weeks. She developed ulcers on her tongue and in her mouth and throat, which led to her bleeding internally.

“The substance was obviously very toxic and acidic. They tried to clean it off at the vets and her fur fell off, which shows just how poisonous it is."

Buzby’s owner noticed her fur was being coated in April. At first the cat was able to wash the substance off, but there was a noticeable change in her behaviour before she fell ill.

She was taken to the vets and although no toxicology analysis was carried out, the conclusion was she had been poisoned.

Buzby failed to respond to veterinary treatment and she suffered organ failure before she was put to sleep on May 24.

“From being a very active cat Buzby would just lay in her litter tray and only move for food, which she was struggling to eat as the substance had burnt the inside of her mouth," Inspector Dickinson said.

“One of the lady’s neighbours described the material as being like marmite in texture and it has an absolutely foul smell to it. Whether there has been a spillage of some chemical in the area or not we don’t know. But it looks like the substance may have been thrown at the cats as it has been found on their paws and neck areas."

The RSPCA says it is difficult to determine if cases of poisoning are accidental incidents or deliberate. But poisoning an animal deliberately is a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Signs of poisoning include vomiting, the animals may appear depressed or sleepy, and there may be uncoordinated movements, seizures and breathing difficulties.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned seek the help of a vet immediately and, if possible, take with you a sample of the suspected poison.

All these incidents have taken place in the Horsforth area but the RSPCA says cat owners should be wary across the city.

Anyone with information is asked to call the RSPCA appeals line on 0300 123 8018.