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Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
A mother-of-three who killed the family’s cat by deliberately putting it in a washing machine has been jailed.
Fluffy the cat took up to 10 minutes to die after 34-year-old Holly Thacker put the animal in the machine at her home in Hellesdon, Norwich, a court heard.
Vets told the court that Fluffy was gripping to the washer’s metal drum so tightly its claws broke off as it spun round. Eventually the cat drowned.
Thacker, who denied cruelty, was jailed for six weeks by Norwich magistrates.
Magistrates heard that Thacker had told her ex-husband, Simon, she had put the cat in the washing machine because it had scratched her.
She allegedly bragged: “I put it on boil wash as well.” She then showed Mr Thacker the cat’s body in a plastic bag.
A report from a veterinary surgeon said the black and white cat would have struggled because its claws were frayed and broken.
Death would have been a “slow and terrifying process” taking between five and 10 minutes, he said.
The court heard Thacker, who has a baby and two daughters aged six and 16, had mental health problems and was on anti-depressants.
Ms Thacker has received hate mail since the story was reported in the media, magistrates were told.
RSPCA inspector Rob Melloy said: “In the seven years I have been with the RSPCA I have never come across anything as horrendous.”
Campaigners protesting against cruelty to animals gathered outside the court waving banners.
Anne Nathan, of East Anglian Animal Rights Coalition, said stricter laws and tougher jail sentences were needed to protect animals.