rabbit trap.

Richard and Lisa Bacon, of Sharnford, were shocked when their pet Poppy returned home on Thursday with her paw hanging off and back leg mangled.

Vets said her leg was broken in too many places to be fixed, and it had to be amputated on Friday.

“All the tendons and bones were on show in her leg and her paw was hanging off,” said Lisa, 45. “We were absolutely devastated to see her in so much pain, and to think that she had probably been struggling and pulling to get out of the trap. She would not have understood what was happening to her.

“She used to be an independent and active cat, always outdoors. To see her lying there now just sleeping, we feel so sad for her.”

Lisa and Richard think that Poppy was caught by a rabbit trap in fields, set to stop the rabbits digging holes.

Poppy usually returns home every morning around 7.30am, but when she did not turn up, Richard went out to look for her. He returned home to find her lying on a mat in the conservatory.

Richard, 65, said: “She was such a beautiful cat and it was such a joy to see her jumping and running around. We are devastated.

“Other cats have gone missing in the past few months – I wonder if they have become trapped and unable to escape.”

The couple, who have a 12-year-old son George, have had to spend £800 so far on vet bills for their seven-year-old cat.

Lisa said: “He wasn’t in floods of tears or anything, but George was really quite upset by all this. It is so upsetting for us because we remember what she was like just a week ago.

“I know the rabbits need to be caught, but I wish that they would just use traps which larger animals such as cats can’t get into.”

Simon Wild, spokesman for the National Anti-Snaring Campaign, said: “While it is legal to use certain types of spring traps for rabbit control, they must only be set in natural or artificial tunnels in order that animals such as cats are not harmed. However, what we find is that the traps are often set close to the tunnel edge and with only flimsy sticks restricting the tunnel entrance.

“Consequently, there is great risk to cats.”