A veterinary nurse claims the RSPCA allowed a vet to put down two kittens needlessly.
Lucy Pauley fostered a pregnant cat from the animal charity which gave birth to five kittens, two of which were born with cerebellar hypoplasia, a neurological disorder which makes them lose their balance.
Ms Pauley, from Coventry, West Midlands, claims when she took four of the 12-week-old litter back to the RSPCA, kittens ‘Pumba and Diddy’ were put to sleep without her knowledge.
Although the charity says the animals were suffering, the 24-year-old claims both cats could have lived a ‘perfectly happy life’.
Lucy Pauley, who claims the RSPCA put down two kittens needlessly
Ms Pauley took four of the 12-week-old litter (pictured) for a second set of routine jabs
Ms Pauley took Pumba and Diddy to the RSPCA’s Coventry and District branch on August 8 for their second set of injections and to be neutered, before they were moved to one of the charity’s catteries while they awaited their permanent home.
Ms Pauley, who has kept kitten Alvin and the mother Sophie as pets, said: ‘I got a phone call from the RSPCA to say that Pumba and Diddy had fallen down one of the ramps in their outdoor areas due to being wobbly.
‘Before I had taken them in, Pumba showed only signs of a slight head wobble, and Diddy only showed slight shakiness when she got scared.
‘Their own vet had seen them and said they would live happy lives, but was off that week so they had new locum vets in.
‘The locum vet had said it was a welfare issue and they wouldn’t live good lives, so she put them to sleep.
‘I deserved a phone call so I could explain what had been going on, but although they said they tried to call me, the decision was already made without me.
‘The result of this miscommunication is that two kittens I had cared for since birth had been put down due to a condition the RSPCA had originally said was not life-hindering.’
Ms Pauley at home with Alvin the kitten and Sophie, the mother of the litter
She added: ‘The RSPCA is amazing as whole but this particular vet played God with two lives, and it’s not acceptable.
‘We wouldn’t do it to humans, so why are we doing it to innocent kittens?’
Dr Alison Richards, Field Veterinary Officer for Cats Protection, said: ‘Our approach to dealing with Cerebellar hypoplasia would vary – we would consider rehoming mildly-affected cats whose symptoms do not appear progressive but, if a cat is more severely affected, or has other developmental issues, then we may decide that a euthanasia decision is kinder on cat welfare grounds.’
Pumba and Diddy were put to sleep after their conditions deteriorated
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: ‘When two of the kittens first showed symptoms consistent with cerebellar hypoplasia we wholeheartedly hoped they would be able to be rehomed, like we have other cats with this condition. In fact, another kitten from this litter who showed milder symptoms of this condition was rehomed with a family.
‘However when these two kittens were most recently seen by cattery staff and an experienced independent vet, it was felt they had deteriorated significantly, they were struggling to bear their own weight and hold the weight of their heads up to eat, and sadly they were felt to be suffering.
What is Cerebellar hypoplasia?
Cerebellar hypoplasia occurs when parts of the cerebellum – which makes up a large portion of the brain’s matter – are not completely developed.
This condition can occur due to genetic causes, or extrinsic causes like infections, toxins or nutritional deficiencies.
Symptoms are visible when kittens begin to stand and walk, around six weeks of age.
‘Any previous veterinary assessment does not reflect the findings at the time this sad decision was made, as a marked deterioration had occurred.
‘As animal lovers ourselves, we understand how upsetting this has been for the foster carer. We rely on the expert advice of experienced, qualified veterinary surgeons when it comes to welfare.
‘We would like to thank the foster carer for her dedication and support in caring for these animals and we are sorry we were unable to get hold of her to explain the vet’s sad decision at the time.’
An independent vet added: ‘When I examined the kittens some were doing well but staff were particularly concerned about two, who were constantly falling over, struggled to get up and appeared to be having difficulty eating.
‘Sadly they were not coping well. Given they had deteriorated and did not appear to have a good quality of life it was felt the kindest decision was to put them to sleep, with the consent of RSPCA staff.
‘I have been a vet for many years and decisions such as this are never taken lightly, always with a heavy heart but putting the animal’s welfare first.’