The RSPCA hopes prison for a woman who microwaved a kitten might deter other people from cruelty to animals in future.
Jobless Laura Cunliffe, aged 23, has been jailed for 14 weeks and banned from keeping animals for life after forcing her cat into a microwave oven and turning the timer on for five minutes.
The black-and-white female cat, Mowgli, suffered a slow and painful death around 90 minutes later, having endured agonising internal organ failure. The kitten was ‘screeching’ and fighting for breath as it died.
Today a spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: “This is such a sad case, and clearly this poor kitten would have suffered terribly over a prolonged period of time.
“Sentencing is for the courts – but we hope this means other animals will not have to suffer in this way in future.”
Jailing Cunliffe at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court, district judge John Foster told her: “The utterly barbaric nature of the act you carried out demands a deterrent sentence.”
Cunliffe, of Northumberland Avenue, Hoyland, Barnsley, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Her crime came to light only when she checked herself into Barnsley Hospital the next day – for an unrelated matter – and made a ‘tearful confession’ to a nurse. Staff reported the matter to the RSPCA.
Prosecutor Brian Orsborn said Cunliffe told a nurse the cat had woken her by jumping on her bed one day last September.
When she went downstairs she found her pet goldfish in four pieces on the floor.
“She was angry at the cat, and so put it in the microwave,” he said.
The cat was still breathing when she stopped the oven after a minute, and she doused its body in water before carrying it in a towel to her step-sister’s house.
Mr Orsborn said: “Her step-sister said the cat was ‘proper screeching’ and wet. Cunliffe said she had poured water on it to cool it down.”
A vet said Mowgli would have ‘suffered immensely’ and death must have been ‘extremely painful’.
“The ordeal would have been hugely painful and would have resulted in organ failure,” he said.
Alan Greaves, defending, said Cunliffe was suffering psychosis and depression, and had been sectioned several times before.
“It was something done in temper on the spur of the moment,” he said.
But the district judge told her: “This was a shocking and distressing case.
“You were entirely aware of what you were doing. This animal was caused immense suffering.”
Cunliffe cannot appeal her lifetime ban for at least five years.
She was also ordered to pay £776 in vets’ costs.