Police hunt thugs who taped firework to cat

THUGS taped a firework to the side of a cat and set it alight in a sick prank in Edinburgh.

Police said the attackers must have pinned down the family pet before winding masking tape around it to attach the rocket.

They then watched as the helpless animal ran around screeching in agony as it tried to escape the flames.

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A horrified resident discovered the badly burned cat crawling through his garden in Royston Mains Road, Granton.

The animal is thought to have crawled there after the firework burned out.

The young male cat had suffered first degree burns and its skin was almost falling off. Masking tape was still attached to its side.

Animal rescue workers today said the cat was lucky to be alive and police condemned the attack as "barbaric".

Staff from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took the cat to the e-vets emergency service on Mayfield Road, in Edinburgh, for urgent treatment. It is now being cared for at the Braid Vets Hospital in Newington, while SSPCA staff search for its owner.

Inspector Euan Smith, of Lothian and Borders Police, said it would have taken more than one person to hold the cat down and tape the rocket-style firework to its body. He said:

"Officers found the animal was clearly in some distress and had tape wound around it. It was a particularly barbaric attack on a defenceless animal."

The cat was burned as it ran around trying to dislodge the firework before it was found at around 8.30am on Sunday.

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Vet Christina Harkness, who treated the animal, said: "The attack could have quite easily killed him.

"Speaking for all vets, this type of incident is both disheartening and distressing. I am disgusted that somebody tried to gain some pleasure from attacking a cat in this horrendous way."

Mike Hall, a fellow vet at the practice, said the cat was responding well to treatment. He said: "It's going to take a very long time to heal up.

"Someone has quite clearly strapped a firework on to it. It's pretty disgusting."

He said they would keep the cat at least until tomorrow, before passing him to the SSPCA to continue his recovery, unless its owner can be traced.

Natalie Smart, a spokeswoman for the SSPCA said: "This attack was brutal and unprovoked. The people responsible for this attack are incredibly cruel, and we really need to catch them."

She said the incident came a year after another cat was attacked with fireworks and thrown onto a bonfire in Hamilton. The cat, named Oscar, was fortunate to survive, although it was left scarred for life.

"Both cats are extremely friendly and we fear that this sense of trust is what put them into danger with the thugs who carried out the attacks," she added.

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Police are asking for anyone with information to come forward. A force spokeswoman said: "Officers were left stunned by this horrific and deliberate act of cruelty. Fireworks in the wrong hands are dangerous, but in this case, could have been fatal for both the animal involved, and those who were abusing them.

"We would like to speak to anyone who has bought fireworks recently, or who knows who might have had access to them.

"We would also like to trace the cat's owner, or anyone who knows who it belongs to, so that they can be reunited when the animal has fully recovered from its injuries."