The grant of just over £11,000 was presented by Ms Bourne - the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner – to members of the charity during an event to raise awareness of domestic abuse.
At a recent public meeting East Sussex’s county councillor Carolyn Lambert (Lib Dem, Seaford South) demanded the rationale of the grant to be spelled out.
According to the Bexhill Observer, Ms Lambert said, “I do wonder, for the public listening in, how you would explain to them, how the spending of £11,137 on Cats Protection is actually helping to keep Sussex safe?”
In response to the councillor’s question Ms Bourne promptly replied, “This isn’t for looking after cats, per se. This was specifically for a piece of work they are doing called Paws Protect.
“Domestic abuse victims will often not leave their abusive partners – and there are many reasons why – because they are worried about their pet.
“An abusive partner will use a pet, very often a cat or a dog, as a means of coercive control over that partner. ‘If you leave me I will kill your pet’, is a blunt way of putting it."
The Sussex PCC then went on to explain that the money was in fact part of a grant from the Ministry of Justice in aid of victims’ support services.
The money is destined for Paws Protect, a volunteer scheme designed to support those who are or have been the victims of domestic abuse.
A subsidiary of Cats Protection, Paws Protect supports victims by providing fostering care for animals within an abusive household.
The work of the PCC has determined that most coercive partners will use a pet as a leverage to their gaining control of their partner.
Paws Protect ensures that an animal caught in the middle of a troublesome relationship is taken out of the equation and looked after until such time as it can be reunited with one of its owners.
The PCC hopes the money will allow the volunteer-led project to continue for a further 18 months.