A cat owner has spoken of his shock after his pet returned home with severe burns thought to have been caused by having boiling water thrown over him.

Ben, a two-year-old Ragdoll, was wet and distressed when he arrived back at his house in Coulson Way, Alconbury on Tuesday, April 7 after being out all day. He also had an obvious injury to his ear.

He was taken to a vet who suspected he had been in a fight until his fur was shaved to reveal an enormous scab caused by scalding all over his back, neck and head. The vet said he suspected these burns were caused by extremely hot liquid having been poured over him.

The tip of Ben's ear was so damaged by the scalding that it has dropped off.

Owner Jeremy Lay said: "We were utterly shocked when the vet shaved Ben and we saw the horrible injury underneath. Before that it was just his head and ear which looked bad, we had no idea what was beneath his fur.

"The scab was over more than a third of his body and was just so awful - he must have been in so much pain. The vet said a human with these kinds of burns would have been hospitalised.

"It just would never have occurred to me that someone could throw hot water over an animal like this - I have no idea what could go through someone's mind to do something like that. Ben is a typical ragdoll - a real softy - he could not have done anything to provoke I am sure.

"Luckily, he is making a good recovery, although will always wear his battle wounds. The tip of his ear just fell off, as the tissue was so burnt it died."

The RSPCA is appealing for information and Carrie O'Riordan, one of the charity's inspectors, said: "These were absolutely horrific injuries which would have caused this poor cat an awful lot of pain.

"Unfortunately cats can be vulnerable to attacks simply because they are out there in the open, but this is the first time I have known one who has had boiling water thrown over him like this.

"It is a completely unacceptable way to treat an animal and I do wonder if whoever did this really thought about how much damage they were causing.

"We urge anyone with any information about this incident to call us, in complete confidence, on 0300 123 8018."