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It took 10 minutes to remove the duct tape that was encased around the three-year-old tabby's face.The Canadian Press

An Ontario woman says she’s shocked by the depths of human cruelty after discovering a young cat with duct tape wrapped around its face.

Nicole Paling of Burlington, Ont., says only fortunate chance brought her to the cat’s aid on Tuesday night roughly an hour after it had been dropped off in the parking lot of a local veterinary clinic.

Paling says she originally thought someone had left a carrier in the lot by mistake, confusing the clinic for animal control.

But when she looked inside, she says she saw the three-year-old tabby with her head encased in silver duct tape, leaving only enough room for her nose.

A shaken Paling summoned her boyfriend to the clinic, who spent a painstaking 10 minutes carefully removing the multiple layers of tape that had constricted the cat’s ears and mouth.

The cat has been named Lucky and is making a full recovery, but Paling says she and her boyfriend are still grappling with the shock and horror of the incident.

“We’ve never seen this kind of abuse,” said Paling, founder of the Every Life Matters Cat Rescue in Burlington. “We’re used to seeing sick cats and we’re used to dealing with feral cats, but we’re not used to seeing torture.”

Paling said she had not originally planned to stop by the clinic where she works as a volunteer, but did so shortly after 8:30 on Tuesday night in order to tend to the medical needs of one of her other rescued animals.

Discovering the cat carrier on the curb outside the clinic, she said, brought on a wave of panic and revulsion that left her trembling and barely able to punch in the access code for the building.

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The cat is shown after being freed.Nicole Paling/The Canadian Press

Her boyfriend, Brett Norton, came to the scene after receiving Paling’s urgent call for help. In a video shot by Paling, Norton is seen calmly trying to reassure both his girlfriend and the cat while he uses a pocket knife to find an opening in the tape.

Paling said he performed his delicate task under difficult conditions.

“Her ears were folded as well, so he had to do it millimetre by millimetre at some points because he didn’t want to cut her ears,” she said. “We couldn’t see where her eyes were. It felt like forever, but it probably wasn’t more than 10 minutes to get it entirely off her face.”

The next day, while clinic staff examined Lucky, Paling said she combed through video surveillance footage from neighbouring businesses.

She said she believes she has pinpointed a car that pulled into the lot at around 7:25 p.m. and remained for less than five minutes before dropping off the carrier.

Paling said she has been in touch with Halton Regional Police, who have told her they’re investigating the incident. The police force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Paling said hundreds of adoption offers have flooded in for Lucky, who must remain at the clinic for a couple of weeks for more evaluation.

She said the outpouring of support and compassion will hopefully help dull the memory of what the cat endured.

“I don’t want to think about it,” Paling said. “I’m trying to look at her and see her beautiful green eyes and know she will be going to a wonderful home.”

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