Pensioner found dead was 'killed by cat'

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A woman found dead in her home is believed to have bled to death after her cat punctured a varicose vein in her leg, police said yesterday.

Diana Dick, aged 60, was found by her carer on her bedroom floor in Botley, a suburb of Oxford. She was pronounced dead at the scene on Saturday.

Mrs Dick is believed to have complained to her carer about a cut she had received. The carer, an 18-year-old woman who was covering for a week while her colleague was on holiday, tried to staunch the bleeding with tissues, after which she left the house.

She returned later in the day to find Mrs Dick collapsed on the floor, and tried unsuccessfully to revive her. Her family was said to be furious because she had been left alone despite being injured. They found out she had died when they became concerned about not being able to contact her.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said the death was not being treating as suspicious, although a full inquest is to be held to establish the exact cause.

He said:"This was a very unusual death. It seems that the pet cat is the cause of the scratch to the woman's leg and, unfortunately, it clawed a varicose vein.

"The woman was found by paramedics with a substantial amount of blood near the body. It was established that the cat appeared to have punctured the vein, and this contributed to the woman's demise."

A report will be presented to the Oxford coroner today. Doctors said it was possible to die quickly of blood loss from a pierced varicose vein, and that the patient would start to feel faint as the blood drained away, and collapse before they were able to do anything to help themselves.

Friends of Mrs Dick are looking after the cat, a white Persian which she had named Frangipani.