Pet owners have been urged to keep an eye out for illegal metal traps after a cat narrowly avoided serious injuries after his leg was clamped.
Tigger, 13, was found in Feltham with the trap's metal jaws around his leg as he tried desperately to jump over a garden fence to get home.
His owner said they went outside after hearing him meow and found him hanging on the fence, with the metal gin trap on his back leg.
After rushing him to a neighbour, who is a vet, the trap was removed and an X-ray later revealed there were no broken bones.
It is not known if Tigger will still have nerve damage following the incident on Christmas Day but he is showing a reluctance to walk on his leg after his painkillers were reduced.
His owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We were just horrified when we saw this awful metal trap hanging from his leg - it's lucky it did not do more damage to him.
The owner added: “Given how he couldn't climb over the fence, we feel he must have got his leg trapped close by, he wouldn't have been able to have moved far with this hanging on his leg.
“It was heartbreaking to see him like this and I reported the incident to the RSPCA and to police.”
His owners have also been putting flyers up to alert other pet owners about the illegal trap.
Also known as a gin trap, the clamps are mechanical devices designed to catch an animal by its leg, using spring-operated jaws or a serrated edge.
Although owning a gin trap is not an offence, the use of the traps has been outlawed in the UK since 1958, but some are still being used illegally to catch rabbits and foxes.
Anyone found causing unnecessary suffering to an animal faces a maximum £20,000 fine and/or six months in prison.
RSPCA inspector Jo Bowling said: “We would ask local people in the area to be vigilant and keep an eye out for these traps.
“Not only is it illegal to set a gin trap, it is also illegal to cause an animal to suffer as a result, we have seen domestic animals fall victim to these traps many times.
“I am just grateful that poor Tigger did not sustain more horrific injuries as a result of what happened to him.”
Llewelyn Lowen, scientific information officer for the RSPCA, added: “Gin traps are indiscriminate, the victims can just as easily be a family pet as a wild animal.
“Whichever the animal, these traps cause a great deal of suffering and we are extremely concerned about their use.”
Anyone with any information about the trap can call the RSPCA appeal line on 0300 123 8018.
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