Man charged over cat’s 13 fractures; most seen in vet’s career 

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jan 19, 2024 |

Photo and words supplied by the SPCA


A man has been sentenced in the Christchurch District Court today on serious animal abuse charges.

In March 2021, ‘Vendetta’ was a normal, healthy cat before entering the care of a man who would later contribute to causing her several fractures – the most a vet specialist had seen during her entire career.

The defendant lived in a shared housing situation, but his room was only accessible via an external door, and was not visited regularly by other residents, meaning Vendetta mostly lived alone in his room.

In a statement released by the SPCA on Friday afternoon it said in August 2021, a resident noticed a visibly thin Vendetta through the window.

He said she was lying on the ground and looked as though she had been run over.

Her mouth was open, and there was blood coming from her mouth and spread across her face.

Her eyes were closed and she was covered in faeces from the waist down.

Concerned for Vendetta’s welfare, the resident told the defendant that Vendetta needed immediate vet care.

The resident drove them to the vet himself.

The veterinary examination revealed Vendetta was seriously underweight, was unable to stand, and mostly unresponsive to sound or touch. She was so cold that her body temperature did not register on the thermometer.

She had teeth fractures, which the veterinarian noted would have required significant force to attain, and scalding of her skin on both her thighs. 

The veterinarian concluded that Vendetta was suffering from hypothermic shock associated with severe dehydration, loss of body mass, oral trauma and ulcerated skin.

An SPCA inspector then took possession of Vendetta and transferred her to the Christchurch Centre, where a further veterinary examination took place.

Radiographs were taken of Vendetta’s body revealing she was only 2.12kg – much lower than the average weight of a female cat and she had a total of 13 body fractures.

These fractures were to her ribs, forelimbs, feet, pelvis, and teeth. Some of these injuries had occurred approximately one to two months before Vendetta was taken to the vet, other injuries had occurred more recently. 

Pain relief was provided, and Vendetta underwent recovery treatment. Sadly, this wasn’t successful. On 24 August, 2021, the decision was made for Vendetta to be euthanised due to the severity and number of injuries.

“I have never seen so many bone fractures in a single animal in my entire career, which included almost 15 years of emergency and critical care practice,” the Veterinarian said.

Vendetta would have experienced long-term, ongoing pain from any of these injuries left without treatment, let alone the collection of them. This level of pain would have been obvious to any layperson in that Vendetta would have been very reluctant to move at all and would have avoided physical contact or reacted negatively when touched.”

When interviewed and in follow up emails to SPCA, the defendant said that he thought that he might have contributed to some of the injuries by being too rough but was not sure exactly which action caused which injury.

SPCA Chief Executive Todd Westwood was appalled by the severity Vendetta’s injuries and the ongoing suffering she endured during her time with the defendant.

“This is one of the most horrendous cases that we’ve seen in recent times. Vendetta entered this man’s care as a normal, healthy cat and had the most horrific treatment which ultimately ended her life,” says Mr Westwood. “Her pain and suffering could have easily been avoided and the level of cruelty and lack of care in this case is difficult to comprehend.

“We are so grateful that the resident took action by getting Vendetta to a vet clinic, where she received the urgent treatment she needed. At least we can take solace in the fact she was in the safe hands of the veterinary team and SPCA, and received loving care in her final moments.”

Vendetta’s owner appeared in the Christchurch District Court today for sentencing. 

He was charged with reckless ill-treatment and failing to provide treatment to an animal that was ill or injured.

He was sentenced to 7 months home detention and disqualified from owning animals for 10 years.

The defendant was also ordered to pay to SPCA reparations of $1,525.00 and $500 towards SPCA legal fees.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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