Owner’s grief as poisoned pet kitten dies in her arms

Bootes the kitten enjoys a spot of sunbathing in happier times. Picture: contributed
Bootes the kitten enjoys a spot of sunbathing in happier times. Picture: contributed
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THE owner of a poisoned kitten has spoken of the “horrible” moment the tabby died in her arms as she rushed to the vet in a last-ditch attempt to save her life.

Hayley McEwan, who runs Edgelaw Farm Livery near Gorebridge, found eight-month-old Bootes unable to walk and foaming at the mouth in December last year.

Animal welfare investigators have now launched an investigation into the kitten’s death after testing showed she had ingested carbofuran – a highly toxic pesticide banned throughout Europe.

Hayley, 24, a mother of one, said she had stumbled across the kitten as she lay dying “a matter of feet” from the front door of her farmhouse at about 5pm on December 1.

She said: “I was showing some clients around the farm and she was nowhere to be seen, which was unusual. Then I went out to the hay area and she just came stumbling up to me.

“I picked her up and she just started fitting and foaming at the mouth, and she completely lost all of her bodily functions.

“By the time we had got her in the car on the way to the vet’s, she had already passed away, but the vet said there was nothing she could have done.

“I couldn’t do anything but wrap her up and cuddle her. I’m still trying to come to terms with everything and find it hard to understand why this happened.”

Hayley insists her farm uses no pesticides but said the fast-acting nature of the poison meant Bootes had to have eaten it while on the property.

“As a business and as animal lovers, we don’t put any pesticides down, and with it being a banned substance, I don’t know how it happened,” she said. “Something has been placed somewhere, or given to her.

“As much as people say that animals don’t have feelings, her brother Pado was there with me when we found her and he was really subdued for days after. He often goes back to the spot where she was found and just sits there.

“We couldn’t even bury her body on the farm in case the poison got in the ground, which is a bit devastating. It’s always nice to bury them at home, but I know that sounds silly.

“It was months ago, but it was horrible. She died in my arms. Everyone was really upset by it.

“I constantly think about it, but there’s no hard evidence regarding what happened. Hopefully this appeal will bring something to light, but it’s obviously a long shot.”

An undercover inspector with the Scottish SPCA said a single grain of carbofuran would be enough to kill an animal – with a measure of just a quarter of a teaspoon fatal to humans.

He said: “While this incident happened in December, we had to wait for the toxicology results to come back. Now that we know the poison was carbofuran, we want to warn other cat owners in the area of the danger.

“Unfortunately, our inquiries so far have not resulted in any leads, so we are now appealing for information as to where the poison may have come from.”