NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Owners struggle with 'robot cat' illness

The owner of a cat with a rare condition which causes muscles to tense rigid, making his pet appear "robotic", has been telling of his struggle to deal with the illness.

Allister Sim, from Huntly in Aberdeensire, said the disease made Tinkers' legs and tail go rigid.

He said the condition had made it difficult for him and his wife Shona to leave Tinkers alone.

The cat becomes stressed and scared because it cannot defend itself.

Mr Sim told BBC Radio's 5 live Breakfast programme that he and his wife had effectively been Tinkers' carers for the past two years.

Brain disease

He said a local vet identified the "robotic cat" illness after Tinkers had begun getting thin and stopped eating and drinking.

Mr Sim said: "The tail sticks right out the back, it doesn't turn up or down and the back legs, he can't control them.

"It's a brain disease. He forgets things, you have to keep on reminding him to eat and reminding him to drink.

"It's just like a dementia in cats."

Mr Sim said someone had to be with Tinkers constantly.

"If he goes out for a walk in the garden you have to go with him because he gets stressed if you're not there," he said.

"Really, I can't go anywhere because I've got to be with him all the time.

"If he's alone he goes eyes wide open and he gets scared if anything's going to attack him, because he knows he's vulnerable."

Mr Sim said he was aware that cats with similar conditions get put to sleep, but that he was prepared to dedicate his time to Tinkers.

He added: "I always believe if you take on a pet you've got to give it 100%, you can't just forget about it whenever it suits you."