An investigation has been launched after a cat managed to escape injury after becoming entangled in a tree with a spring trap attached to his front leg.

The young male cat had climbed onto a fence at an allotment in Houghton-le- Spring with the metal device hanging off his right paw.

It then became lodged in the branch of a conifer tree leaving him unable to move. 

The Northern Echo: Steve the cat at the vetsSteve the cat at the vets (Image: RSPCA)

Residents in Hunter Street, which is near the allotments, heard his cries of distress and alerted the RSPCA. 

The charity’s inspectors, Rachael Hurst and Rowena Proctor arrived on the scene to find the cat howling in pain and desperately trying to free the trap from his right paw which had swollen to more than twice the normal size.  

The Northern Echo: The cat's paw after the incidentThe cat's paw after the incident (Image: RSPCA)

Because of his highly agitated state, he was caught with a grasper and then rushed for urgent veterinary treatment at Wrights’ Vets in Birtley, where the trap was removed.

After being given pain relief and antibiotics, X-rays revealed that Steve - as he has been named - had not suffered any fractures or broken bones.

The Northern Echo: Steve the cat was found in the tree Steve the cat was found in the tree (Image: RSPCA)

After an overnight stay at the vet, he was transferred to the RSPCA’s Felledge Animal and Equine Centre in Chester-le-Street.

Steve wasn’t microchipped, and the RSPCA has put up posters in the local area appealing to anyone who thinks the friendly-natured cat might be their missing pet to get in touch. 

Inspector Hurst, from the RSPCA, said: “Apart from some swelling and bruising and a missing toenail on his back foot, which we think was probably caused as he struggled to free himself, Steve was extremely lucky not to sustain more serious injuries.

The Northern Echo: The trap that the cat got stuck inThe trap that the cat got stuck in (Image: RSPCA)

He was crying out in pain when we got there, it really was a distressing sight, and we’re extremely grateful to the concerned residents who promptly raised the alarm and the fantastic team at Wrights’ Vets for their excellent care.

“Steve is such a friendly cat and otherwise healthy and in very good condition, so it’s hard to believe there isn’t a family out there somewhere who is missing him.  

She added: “While it’s not an illegal trap in itself, it’s likely this device has been set illegally as they should only be put in an artificial or natural tunnel which is fit for purpose and secured to the ground in order to avoid catching non-target species like poor Steve. 

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“This particular trap was old and rusty and didn’t look like it had been well maintained. It may have been left out for some time and just forgotten about. 

“We’d people to be vigilant and to keep an eye out for similar devices which might have been set in the area. It may not be illegal to own this trap but domestic animals can fall foul of them and they are unforgiving."

Anyone who thinks Steve might be their missing pet should contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 quoting incident number 01177411. Proof of ownership will be required.