Nine lives too few for Manic?
● The claws are out at an upmarket Sandton housing estate over a pampered tabby cat named Manic that its owner believes was euthanised in a case of mistaken identity.
Manic’s owner, therapist Illeana Cocotos, claims her pet was mistaken for a feral cat, trapped and taken to the SPCA, where she believes it was euthanised, even though it had a microchip containing her contact details.
Now the fur is flying and Cocotos is consulting a lawyer about possible legal action.
“These are our pets, we love them, they help us, and they don’t deserve to be treated in this way. It’s a terrible thing to go through,” she told the Sunday Times.
However, the SPCA denies it put Manic down, while the estate, Waterstone, said Cocotos had been alerted that the management was carrying out trapping to curb the proliferation of stray cats in the complex, and that owners should ensure their pets were wearing collars.
Cocotos said she had last seen Manic in March.
On April 18 the security manager mentioned to her that feral cats were being trapped. At the time, Cocotos had not seen her cat for three weeks. This was not unusual as he “liked to wander”, she said.
“He was a free spirit and we allowed him that freedom.”
It was only when the manager showed her a picture of the cats that has been captured and taken to the Sandton SPCA, and she thought she recognised one of them as Manic, that she realised what may have happened. She rushed to the SPCA to identify and claim her cat, but was told the feral cats brought in from Waterstone had already been euthanised.
However, SPCA staff said the cat that looked like Manic had been a pregnant female, and had been scanned for a chip before it was put down seven days earlier.
“I was traumatised and shocked. The SPCA claims it was a different cat, but the tail markings are very distinct. It’s very unlikely that there was another cat in the estate with the same markings,” Cocotos said.
She said she was meeting an attorney this week to discuss legal action to get “closure”.
Sandton SPCA general manager Jaco Pieterse denied that the animal welfare group was at fault. Pieterse said upon admission, all animals were scanned at least three times for a microchip.
While the Sandton SPCA has no rule on how long animals are kept before they are euthanised, Pieterse noted that Cocotos only came to the facility on April 19, which was 21 days after the cat in question had been brought in.
“Which responsible animal owner waits more than 21 days before coming forward to look for their missing animal? Any responsible animal owner will immediately contact the local SPCA and vets in the area to report their animal as missing. We had no prior reports about Mrs Cocotos’s missing cat,” Pieterse said.
Louis du Pisani, a spokesman for the Waterstone Estate Home Owners Association, this week referred the Sunday Times to a letter he had sent to Cocotos. The letter says homeowners were sent a notice on August 15 last year about the problem of feral cats and were asked to ensure their cats had collars.
In the letter, Du Pisani said the board had received complaints from owners regarding feral cats fighting with their domestic cats, eating their pets’ food and damaging outdoor furniture. He told Cocotos the estate believed her cat had not been euthanised and was probably still missing.
But Cocotos is not accepting these explanations. “I know it was Manic in that cage, I know he’s not coming back.”
Illeana Cocotos, left, with her cat Manic. She claims Manic, shown sleeping top, was put down by the SPCA, but the SPCA says the cat that it put down, above, was a different cat.