A CAT used one of its nine lives to escape from an animal snare this week prompting concerns over the “inhumane torture” traps.

Sweet Pea, a small tabby, had a lucky escape after getting caught in a wire snare near Tow Law, Bishop Auckland. The cat managed to walk home with the snare trapped around her abdomen, it had passed over her neck and got trapped around her rear legs.

The snare, which was designed to catch a rabbit around the neck and choke it, was removed by a vet and left Sweet Pea with lacerations through her fur and skin but otherwise unharmed.

Following her pet’s ordeal Sweet Pea’s owner has warned other animal owners to be alert for snares and says awareness of the traps should be heightened.

The owner, who didn’t wish to be identified, said: “She came home last week muddied, bloodied and exhausted.

She was extremely lucky though, it may have cost her one of her nine lives but she survived.

“I’d never really thought about snares before but after looking into them I’ve found they provide a slow, lingering death for animals.

“I find it strange for a county that professes to be full of animal lovers that snares are still allowed to be used in the countryside. I think part of the problem is because they are covert and hidden people aren’t aware of them, I wasn’t until Sweet Pea had her incident.”

The owner said the indiscriminate nature of snares concerned her as any animal could be trapped. She also urged people to be more aware of the affect a snare has on an animal.

The owner said: “If Sweet Pea’s story shames just one person into thinking about the appalling, inhumane torture the snare delivers then that would be something.”

Ken Elgey, coordinator of the Riverside and Country Group, said snares were a necessary tool in culling pests and that if used properly they shouldn’t pose a risk to other animals.

He said: “The fact a cat has been caught by a snare can only leave me concerned that the person who laid it isn’t experienced in setting them.

“They are legal and are the cheapest way for people to control pests like rabbits. In the hands of professionals and keepers they can be laid safely, I’ve not know of other animals being caught when the traps are laid properly.”

Mr Elgey said the snares were preferred to other methods such as cages because they were cheap and not easily stolen. He also said it was important to cull animals such as rabbits due to the devastation they wreak on livelihoods.

Mr Elgey said: “A lot of damage can be caused not just by rabbits eating crops but also by their digging into banks, under buildings, railway lines and around pipes and services.

“Walls become weak if they are burrowed under. There’s got to be some way of culling them. None of us want to see the last rabbit go but we’ve got to be sensible.”