Claws out over cat trauma at pet hotel
Owner says beloved pet used up one of its nine lives in cattery
A Durban woman plans to sue a plush Ballito "cat hotel" for negligence after one of her beloved pets had to be rescued by an animal organisation while she was overseas.
Narissa Ramdhani, CEO of the Ifa Lethu Foundation and honorary consul general for Chile, says her cat José was found in a critical condition by an animal activist she had commissioned to check on her four cats at the facility north of Durban.
José was taken to a nearby vet for emergency treatment.
Her other three cats, one of which she says lost 3kg while in the care of the cattery Paws for Thought, were removed shortly afterwards by Feeding the Furballs head Farrah Khan Maharajh.Paws for Thought apologised to Ramdhani, saying the incident was "most unfortunate and we have taken full responsibility". It also offered to pay the vet bills.
But this was not enough for Ramdhani, who accused the cat hotel of "animal abuse".
"I have been consulting my lawyers in order to start civil action. It was the first time I put them in a cattery since I adopted them three years ago and look what happened. It's shocking," she said.
"I was uneasy about placing them in a cattery, so I appointed ... Feeding the Furballs to do site visits while I was away."
Ramdhani paid about R6,500 for the cats' board and lodging for 10 days.
She was in the UK when she received a call from Maharajh, who had found José "nearly dead".
"I had put a calming collar on José," Ramdhani said. "It seems that out of fear he caught his mouth in this collar and cut his mouth. He tried to remove it with his legs as well."
She said José had been severely dehydrated and in shock. The cat developed infections that meant some of his claws and a tooth had to be surgically removed. The inside of his mouth had to be stitched because some of the bones were affected by the infection.
A report by veterinarian Dr Louis Gouws, who initially treated the cat, said José had "extensive injuries to his mouth corners, apparently from getting his collar stuck in his mouth. I indicated that José would need some surgical correction to the corners of his mouth."
Ann Robinson, founder of Paws for Thought, said Ramdhani's four cats had been accommodated in two separate "suites".
"They were admitted with cat collars on. José the ginger male cat attempted to remove his collar and got his mouth lodged in the band, causing injury to his mouth and neck," Robinson said.
"The employee in charge unfortunately did not see that the cat was distressed and subsequently never reported it to the office.
"This has never happened in 38 years of running a kennel; we have since made it a rule that no pet will be admitted wearing a collar," she said.
"We must dispute the allegation that the other cats lost weight during their stay with us."
Meg Wilson, spokeswoman for the National Council of SPCAs, said: "Any person who has charge, custody or control of an animal is obligated to adhere to the Animals Protection Act."
Wilson said SPCA officers around the country undertook "proactive and reactive" inspections at pet hotels and intervened if necessary.
Ramdhani said it was a problem that the pet-boarding industry was not regulated "and they are not required to have licences".
TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR PET'S HEALTH
• Ask relevant questions when choosing a boarding facility.
• Reputable boarding kennels or catteries require proof that your pet's vaccination certificate is up to date before admitting them.
• Have you been to view the boarding facilities yourself - preferably unannounced?
• Have you made sure the food being served by the boarding facility meets your pet's dietary requirements?
• Does the facility appear to be well maintained?
• Have you been able to observe how staff treat and handle the animals?
• Does a vet regularly visit the facility?
• Are staff trained to recognise animals that may not be well?
• Have you asked for references? Source: NSPCA
Top-notch cat hotels in South Africa offer a range of services for their furry guests including:
• full-body massages
• heated villas
• scratching posts