Safety claws as council slaps Asbo on a cat

Samantha Davies with Rocky. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency
Samantha Davies with Rocky. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

A cat called Rocky has been handed an ‘animal ASBO’ after allegedly terrorising an entire South Yorkshire neighbourhood.

Rocky is alleged to have bitten people, damaged property, intimidated other residents by entering their homes and refusing to leave – and injured other neighbourhood cats in scuffles.

His owner Samantha Davies, 35, received a letter from Rotherham Council with the heading “Anti-Social Behaviour Complaint” stating they had received “several complaints” about the four-year-old cat causing “alarm distress and annoyance” to other neighbours.

As a result, she was told that her pet must not leave her house in Rotherham – and if he does she will be made to pay for any damage he causes.

The letter read: “I am in receipt of several complaints regarding your cat Rocky causing alarm, distress and annoyance to other residents in the area of your property.

“Although I appreciate that cats do roam, I would prefer if you could take steps to keep your cat Rocky from leaving the perimeter of your garden in the future.

“Should further complaints be received about damage done to neighbours’ property by your pet you will be charged for the repairs.”

Ms Davies, who studies Maths and English at Rotherham College, said: “It’s just like an animal ASBO, and it is completely ridiculous.

“How can a cat behave antisocially? It’s an animal, it’s a pet – he’s not going to bite your leg off, drink alcohol in the street or try and rob your phone.”

When Samantha phoned Rotherham Council to ask about the specific complaints she was told that Rocky had allegedly bitten two people, scratched an outside fence, and had intimidated residents by entering their homes and refusing to leave.

“Even if Rocky did do these things, it’s hardly what you’d deem to be antisocial behaviour,” said student Samantha.

“But where’s the proof? I haven’t seen a shred of proof that any of this even happened. I think the council needs to concentrate on doing their job properly instead of following up rubbish like this.

“The council told me to lock him indoors, but in this weather I think that’s extremely cruel. He’s a cat and wants to be outside.”

Samantha, who also has a black and white cat called Mia, added: “I’ve heard of people being told to keep their dog under control, but never a cat. It’s ridiculous.”

Council officials said they had received one formal complaint and two verbal complaints from residents on The Lanes estate over the behaviour of Rocky. But despite this, no neighbours would admit to making a complaint.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “Rocky has bitten me on numerous occasions. One time he came into my house through an upstairs window and started terrorising my dog.

“I could hear him going mad and went up to see what the problem was and Rocky was there.

“When I tried to get him out the house he bit me extremely hard.”

Next door neighbour David Willoughby, 65, said: “He comes over to our house quite a bit, but we don’t have a problem with him.

“He did bite me once, but that was because he got stuck and was frightened. Sam was very apologetic about it afterwards and I didn’t have a problem.

“He’s a male cat, and he needs to assert his authority, but he’s not a bad cat really. I certainly didn’t make a complaint about him.”

Paul Walsh, Housing and Communities Service Manager for Rotherham Borough Council, denied the authority was being heavy-handed saying that it had a “duty of care” to neighbouring tenants, who have made one formal complaint and numerous verbal complaints about Rocky.

He added: “We do appreciate it is very difficult to control a cat once they are let out but Rocky has been causing problems around the area for quite a while now and is actually terrifying some local residents who are very vulnerable.

“Last year he allegedly bit two people and his bad behaviour has continued because he causes both internal and external damage when he visits neighbouring properties. He certainly does not like being challenged and lives up to his boxing namesake.

“We have asked his owner to take reasonable steps to try and cut down his wandering and have advised the neighbours to use a variety of cat deterrents, which certainly includes not feeding him.

“The warning letter is very much a last resort and if the owner takes reasonable steps to control him and we get no further reports from neighbouring residents then obviously this will go no further.

“As part of their tenancy agreements all pet-owning council tenants must keep any animal at their property under proper control so that they do not cause a danger, nuisance or annoyance to their neighbours or anyone visiting the property or the locality.

“This often refers to dogs but cats can also cause problems, as this case has illustrated.”