RESIDENTS in a West Berkshire village have condemned calls on social media for a local stray cat to be shot.
Villagers have become accustomed to seeing the grey tomcat in their gardens and on the streets of Compton but are now concerned for its welfare.
However, ‘Mr Skanky Pants’ is understood to have developed kidney problems and, according to comments on Facebook, has been diagnosed with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).
In an effort to ease the cat’s suffering, while also preventing the infection from spreading to other domestic cats, some residents have suggested shooting the homeless feline.
On a community Facebook page one commenter wrote: “... he needs shooting, to help him out of his pain, there won’t be a lot of people agree with me, but you have to be cruel to be kind sometimes?”
However, the suggestion was quickly condemned by other Facebook users, with one commenter writing: “I have three cats and would hate to see this cat shot when even with his problems he might get help if caught.”
Another Facebook user wrote: “Poor boy. Don’t shoot him.”
While another commented: “If someone can catch him... I’m happy to donate towards whatever vets conclude... please don’t shoot him ... I have two cats so sadly can’t take him in.”
It is believed the cat was left behind by a former resident a number of years ago and has been a stray ever since.
Cats infected with FIV may appear normal for years. However, infection eventually leads to a state of immune deficiency that hinders the animal’s ability to protect itself against other infections.
It can only infect felines and is spread mainly through bites and scratches.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, one concerned resident said the sick cat needs to be caught and taken to the vet.
“I know it’s got kidney problems and its not well but you just can’t go around shooting things,” the resident said. “What if he misses?
“My husband goes shooting and he says when you shoot something you have got to get it right. The cat could run off half shot and be in an even worse situation.
“I would like to see it caught and taken to a vet. If it’s got a chance and can live a bit longer perhaps it can be re-homed.
“If it needs putting down then it needs putting down but it should be done in the kindest way possible.”
Manager at Cats Protection’s Newbury adoption centre, Karen Clarke, said: “We would never advise that a cat should be shot.
“We suggest for the cat’s welfare that it is trapped, neutered if needed and then either returned to where it was found or we would look for a new home for it.
"In the case of FIV-positive cats, we would find them an indoor-only home which reduces their risk of spreading infection to other cats and lowers their chance of succumbing to other infectious diseases, to which they may be more susceptible.”