The Persian tabby that bears a striking resemblance to the saggy-clothed television character who delighted generations of children was only saved by sharp-eyed dustmen. Because of the size and shape of the bin where the elderly moggy was found languishing was so high, animal cruelty investigators believe she was deliberately targeted. Now nicknamed Matilda, the rescued pet is being cared for by the RSPCA because she has symptoms of cat flu.
Matilda, who is aged around 12, was discovered by refuse collectors in a large, chest-height bin outside a block of flats in New Addington, Croydon, earlier this month.
After the dustmen were unable to trace Matilda’s owner, a resident at the flats alerted the RSPCA because they were concerned the cat, who was wearing a pink plastic collar, was not moving.
Animal Collection Officer Tom Goldsmith continued searching for an owner after taking Matilda for treatment.
He said: “We knocked on some doors but couldn’t find anyone that recognised this poor cat. She did have sticky eyes and seemed unwell so we took her to RSPCA Putney for a check over.
“I think it’s unlikely she got into the bin herself because of the position and height of it, so sadly this may have been done deliberately.”
How anyone could have cruelly dumped a pet who brings back childhood memories for so many will confound animal lovers.
BBC’s Bagpuss series was made by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate and first screened in 1974. Although it ran for only 13 episodes with its array of characters, which included woodpecker Professor Yaffle, singing mice and rag doll Madeleine, it was later voted the UK’s all-time favourite children’s programme.
Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg was famously photographed with a Bagpuss toy when he visited a London pop-up shop dedicated to the series.
Jo Elmes, from RSPCA Putney, said: “As soon as we saw poor Matilda she reminded us of the much-loved childhood character Bagpuss. We can’t believe someone thought she was rubbish, she is such a sweet girl.”
Matilda the Bagpuss look-alike is feared to have cat flu (Image: RSPCA)Jacob Ree-Mogg at Bagpuss pop-up shop (Image: GETTY)
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Ms Elmes added: “She is doing really well here, though. So if no one comes forward, hopefully, we can find her a loving new home – although perhaps not with a woodpecker and some mice.”
The RSPCA says as well as showing symptoms of cat flu, Matilda may also be suffering because of breed problems.
“Persians are bred with extremely short, flat faces and as a result can experience health and welfare issues including breathing difficulties and problems with their tear ducts,” says the charity. Its vets are also concerned Matilda may always have problems with her eyes.
Anyone who recognises Matilda or knows how she got into the bin is urged to call the RSPCA appeal line on 0300 123 8018.