Cat owners warned after spate of poisonings

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Cat owners fear for the safety of their pets after a spate of poisonings – all in the same part of Berkhamsted.

Julie Rookley, 41, of Westfield Road, Berkhamsted, got home at 7pm last night to discover her daughter Chelsea’s three-year-old black and white moggy Diago unconscious and having a fit.

She said: “Most of the cats in our street have been wiped out by this. I am devastated. He’s my baby. I have been crying all night and not sleeping.

“When cats are poisoned, they have fits, become limp and lifeless and their breathing becomes erratic. How would anybody feel seeing a pet they love go through that?”

Julie now thinks her pet was poisoned with anti-freeze after visiting someone’s garden. She says the same thing has happened to about seven cats in the area.

Diago’s kidneys were badly damaged by the suspected poisoning and a vet will soon decide if he will have to be put down.

Julie said: “It’s disgusting and it’s illegal. How could anybody poison something that somebody else loves? You just do not do it. You just do not kill something that does not belong to you.”

The vet bill for Diago has cost Julie £500 – and it would have cost her £1,200 had she not been insured. Diago lives with Julie, her husband Russ, 39, and their daughters Chelsea, 22, and Vicky, 16.

Julie is now considering rehoming the family’s other cat, seven-year-old Sally, so that she never has to go through the same turmoil as Diago.

Julie said: “If somebody does not report this, whoever is doing it is going to continue to do it until there are no cats left in our neighbourhood.”

Owner of Berkhamsted’s St John’s Veterinary Surgery Jane Wighton confirmed that a spate of poisonings had been reported in the area.

She said: “Poisoning is something we deal with on a regular basis, but in the last four months, we have seen more than the occasional case in cats – more than we would expect.

“There’s no evidence of wrong-doing – but it is just worrying when you see more than you would usually expect to see.”

UPDATE (TUESDAY): Diago has now been put to sleep by the vet. Chelsea said: “I hope this never happens to anyone again. That cat meant everything to me.

“I even woke up at 4am this morning to wake up and cuddle him like I did every night. I hope this person gets caught before we have no animals left.”

Police spokesman Sarah Spence has now said: “There have been a number incidents in recent months in the Westfield Road/Chaucer Close area, where cats have died.

“It is believed this may be linked to anti-freeze. Officers from the Safer Neighbourhood Team have been investigating and working with the local community. However, at there is no evidence of criminal intent.”