A lucky black cat was saved by charity Cats Protection after wandering for six weeks with a weighty iron drain cover stuck around his neck.
Hapless stray Sam had survived for more than a month with the cover – which weighed a quarter of his body weight – lodged firmly around his neck.
He was finally saved after the North Sheffield Branch of Cats Protection was alerted to his plight and rushed him to a vet who eased the grate off his head.
Pat Smith, Co-ordinator of the Branch, said a resident of the Handsworth area of Sheffield had contacted the charity to report the cat – and said the object had been around his neck for about six weeks.
Pat said: “Although he has been looked after by a group of neighbours who feed him, Sam is not domesticated and will not allow people to approach him, so no-one had been able to catch him to help him. As soon as we heard about Sam we set up a humane trap to catch him so we could get him to a vet.”
The iron drain cover, which at 1.3kg is a quarter of Sam’s 4.8kg body-weight, is seven inches wide. Sam’s head was stuck in the hole where a drain pipe would usually fit into.
Pat said: “We think he may have got it stuck after chasing a rodent through the hole. We don’t think anyone would have put it on him as it’s impossible to get near him.”
Sam, who is thought to be aged between six and eight, was taken to a vet where he was anaesthetised and the drain eased off with lubricant. Cats Protection also arranged for him to be neutered at the same time.
Pat said: “It is absolutely remarkable he managed to get by with this thing around his neck – it is so heavy it is a wonder he even managed to hold his head up.
“He didn’t even have much of a mark around his neck after we got it off. He certainly is a tough little cat – even though he has used up one of his nine lives.”
Sam has now been returned to where he was living after a resident agreed to take sole responsibility for him and provide him with a sleeping area in her porch.
Pat said: “Sam can’t be homed as a domestic cat so the best thing is if he goes back to where he was living, where he is cared for by a group of neighbours who feed him with one of them taking sole responsibility. Although he won’t be approached or stroked, he is very popular with the residents who are very relieved he is now safe and well.”
Cats Protection, which is the UK’s largest feline welfare charity, paid the £45 vet bill to have Sam neutered and released from the drain.