Up to a million watch Love/Hate as cat scene provokes protests

Opening episode of crime drama proves hit with viewers despite machine-gunning of cat

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has described the machine-gunning of a cat at the start of Love/Hate as ‘sick and horrendous’.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has described the machine-gunning of a cat at the start of Love/Hate as ‘sick and horrendous’.

Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 21:41

Nearly a million people watched Sunday night’s opening episode of the new series of Love/Hate in which the machine-gunning of a cat has led to protests from animal welfare organisations.

RTÉ confirmed that it has received 10 complaint emails and seven telephone calls about the scene.

A spokeswoman said the cat involved in the filming was not harmed. It had been led in the right direction with a fishing line around its neck and the impact blood spatter was created through CGI effects in post production. The cat was given an anaesthetic by a vet after the shooting scene was shot so that it would “play dead” for the cameras, she added.

An average of 971,000 viewers tuned in on RTÉ One to make it the most-watched episode of Love/Hate which is now in its fourth season. More than 53 per cent of people watching TV tuned in, with 1.3 million viewers tuning in at some point during the transmission. By way of comparison, last year’s first episode of the third series, broadcast in November last year, was watched by an average of 630,700 viewers, representing a 35% share of people watching television at the time.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) described the machine-gunning of the cat at the start of Sunday’s episode as “sick and horrendous”.

The society said it was writing to RTÉ and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to complain about the scene which occurred when a teenage character Wayne, played by Barry Keogh, shoots at the cat.

ISPCA chairwoman Barbara Bent said she feared that youngsters would be inclined to behave cruelly towards cats as a result of what happened on Love/Hate.

“We already have a lot of cats injured by caterpults and kittens being thrown at dogs. I know it is not a children’s programme but it sends out all the wrong messages to young people.”

Ms Bent said the cat shooting scene in the beginning was unnecessary and the same dramatic effect could easily have been achieved by shooting at an inanimate target such as a wall.

“We were horrified and absolutely speechless We got a lot of calls and complaints about it,” she added. “It is hard enough to get the message over that animals are sentient beings without something like this happening which was totally unnecessary.”

The Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN), which campaigns against animal cruelty urged viewers to boycott Love/Hate.

ARAN director John Carmody said they were “incensed and angered” by the scene and warned that it would do “ irreparable damage to our work of curbing violent crimes towards animals and comes at a time of record reports of violence towards animals around the country.”