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‘Scared’ cats ‘flee into woods’ as hunting hounds race through sanctuary

Over 20 cats have gone missing after hunting hounds rushed into an animal sanctuary for an hour and a half during a hunt.

Staff at the Celia Hammond Animal Trust’s Greenacres branch near Hastings claimed that the centre was “swarmed” by the fox hounds on 9 January as the animals were having their feed.

The Celia Hammond Animal Trust provides shelter for 130 rescued animals and cares mainly for cats. 60 of the cats fled the scene as staff and volunteers tried to chase the hounds away. The incident was finally calmed down with the help of police.

Nearly 40 of the cats returned, with staff saying the animals were left “traumatised” by the ordeal. It is believed that the remaining cats fled into the nearby woodlands.

Founder, Celia Hammond, believes that the missing cats may never return and suggests they may have already been killed.

The huntsman was found to be complying with the Hunting Act 2004 and has since apologised to the sanctuary.

She told The Independent: “It looked like a whole pack of hounds had split into two. Half of them went after a fox, and half after a deer. And then they were coming into the sanctuary from all different areas – they’ve got their horns, they were in full cry. They were after the fox and after the deer.

“There was 21 missing at the last count. We don’t know what’s happened to them. It’s absolutely outrageous – I’m so angry, I’m so upset.”

She added: “We bring these cats down to what’s supposed to be a sanctuary, where they’re supposed to be safe.

“If they’ve got health problems or they’re old and a bit doddery, we keep them here safely. For this to happen in the place where they’re supposed to be safe – we just feel violated.”

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