The individual was walking down a lane when they saw the handbag. Why had its owner left it on the ground? They approached the accessory to take a closer look and froze in their tracks. Something was inside the bag – and it was alive.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is an illustrious British organization with a long past. In fact, its roots go back to the 1800s, when discussions raged over how people should treat animals. It was the hot topic at the time.
That’s because in those days, no laws were in place to protect our voiceless friends. It was a time of animal blood sports, lab experiments and working beasts of burden ragged. However, there were some who sought to change that.
One of those people was an animal lover named Reverend Arthur Broome. Together with several like-minded individuals, Broome founded a voluntary group to spread compassion for animals. They called it the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and it would later become the RSPCA.
Continuing Broome’s original animal welfare vision, the RSPCA is an organization that remains active in England and Wales. Its message has reached further than that, though, as it’s inspired the creation of similar charities across the world. The RSPCA has counterparts in Japan, Australia and the U.S., to name just a few.
As a result of the nature of their work, RSPCA employees probably often encounter the results of animal abuse. But in 2018 a good Samaritan brought one case to their attention that even shocked the organization’s experienced inspectors. It all started with an object in a country lane.
On June 6, 2018, someone from Cardiff, Wales, was traveling down a lane on Albany Road. The route was close to their home, so the area was familiar to them. However, something was different that afternoon.
To be more specific, the person spotted a woman’s handbag – not something you often see abandoned. After all, a handbag is usually a treasured combination of hand luggage and fashion accessory. Seeing one discarded was unusual and so seemed worthy of investigation.
Unsure of whether someone had lost the handbag, stolen it or just left it behind, the good Samaritan approached the object. And that’s when they noticed the strangest thing of all: the bag moved. Whoever was last in possession of the item had trapped something inside.
When the person took a closer look, they realized the bag had been zipped up almost completely. That had apparently been done in an attempt to stop whatever was inside from getting out. And when the good Samaritan slid the zipper open, they were stunned by what they saw.
A terrified little kitten looked back up at their rescuer from the depths of the bag. Not only had she been trapped inside, but she’d also endured stifling heat. Outside, the temperatures had reached 80° F, and it’s likely that the inside of a sealed handbag would have been even hotter.
The discovery stunned RSPCA inspector Annie Simmonds. She spoke openly about the issue with The Wave in June 2018. “I feel shock and dismay that anyone would deem it acceptable to treat a kitten in such a cruel and dangerous manner,” she said. It turned out that the cat was approximately 20 weeks old.
The kitten’s rescuer left her in the capable hands of the RSPCA, and Simmonds has since provided an update on the young cat’s progress. “She must have been absolutely terrified,” the inspector said. “But thankfully, this very sweet, friendly cat is doing well in our care.”
With the kitten safe, Simmonds has appealed for help to locate the abuser. “We’re desperate for anyone with information related to this awful abandonment to contact our inspectorate appeal line,” she announced. “We’d urge anyone who knows something about how this kitten came to be trapped in this bag to contact us.”
The idea that someone would knowingly do such a thing to a cat is distressing. However, it isn’t even the only unusual cat-and-handbag story to come out of the area. Another seemingly unrelated incident occurred nearby in January 2013.
Despite taking place years apart and apparently being unrelated, there are some similarities between the two incidents. This earlier event took place at a store called Albany Pets in Roath, close to where the handbag detailed above would later be found. And it hit Carol Ivory, the owner of the store at the time, hard.
CCTV footage showed a gang of people – three of whom were children – in an area of the store that was off-limits to the public. There, they picked up a kitten that Ivory was looking after for a vacationing friend. A female member of the gang subsequently placed the cat in her handbag before escaping.
“I think that it was an absolutely despicable thing to do,” Ivory told BBC News in January 2013. “You don’t think anyone would do that.” The theft shook her to the core, in fact, to the extent that she no longer wanted to continue to run a pet store.
Furthermore, Ivory was worried sick about the kitten’s health. She said, “The thought of him being with them is just horrifying. He’s a very nice quiet little kitten who doesn’t stand up for himself. What are they going to do to him if he makes a mess on the carpet out of fright?”
But this story also had a happy ending, thankfully. A man recognized the thief from the CCTV footage as his own wife, contacted the police and returned the kitten to Ivory. “I’m so glad he’s OK,” she told the Mail Online in January 2013. “I really feared the worst, I never thought I’d see his little face again. He’s going to get so pampered and cared for now.”