RSPCA's warning after cats killed by Marmite-like substance' in Leeds

Buzby had to be put to sleep after her fur was covered in the substance. Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA is urging cat owners in Leeds to be vigilant after a spate of poisonings.

One cat has been put to sleep and another was found dead after they came into contact with a substance described as "like Marmite in texture" with an "absolutely foul smell".

The charity said several owners in the Horsforth area had reported their cats missing over the last month, with vets suspecting the cause to be chemical poisoning.

It said the toxin may have been thrown at the cats after one animal, Buzby, returned home with her fur covered in a dark substance.

She deteriorated quickly, becoming lethargic before developing ulcers on her tongue and in her mouth and throat. She later began bleeding internally.

Buzby struggled to eat as the substance had burnt the inside of her mouth Credit: RSPCA

Initially able to clean herself, she fell ill over a six-week period and was eventually put to sleep.

Several of her owner's neighbours have also reported their cats missing.

'The substance may have been thrown at the cats'

RSPCA inspector Adam Dickinson said: "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. 

"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.

"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.

"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."

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.

Signs that a cat has been poisoned can include changes in behaviour, including lethargy, infection around the mouth, vomiting and drooling, appearing depressed or sleepy uncoordinated movements, seizures or breathing difficulties. 

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

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