A STRAY kitten is fighting for its life after being deliberately set on fire in Casino on Friday.
Lismore vets are debating whether they can operate safely on the animal given the extent of its injuries, which cover 30% of its body and include burns to its head, chest and back.
The burns to the kitten's ears are so severe that a decision is made to operate, it is expected they will be surgically removed.
The cat was first seen wandering out of a drain in Callistemon Place, Casino, on Friday afternoon about 2pm.
Witnesses describe the cat "dragging its back legs".
It was subsequently rescued on Saturday morning and taken to local vets.
RSPCA Far North Coast regional inspector Alistair Hills said local vets in Casino and Lismore would make a call on the kitten's fate today.
"At this point we just don't know," he said.
"They have just cleaned it up, put it on pain relief, antibiotics and a number of other things and today there were going to look at what surgery they were going to be able to give to it.
"It's very bright… in itself, but just because of the extent of the injury they just don't know after a few days once that skin comes off just how extensive it is."
Mr Hills said there was no evidence yet pointing to who may have set the kitten on fire, but it was almost certainly not an accident.
"The way the burns are I don't see how it would have been able to do that to itself.
"There's no burns to its feet so it hasn't run through fire; it's been burnt around the top of the head and the back and underneath the chest area."
He said it was "inconceivable" that people would do such a thing.
"I've seen similar things like this many times over the years… you really can't say anything. Trying to get a grasp on what their mental state is to do that to another living thing… is inconceivable."
RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David O'Shannessy said it appeared to be a dreadful, and deliberate, attack.
"These types of crimes are of the most heinous in nature. The little kitten is in a pretty bad way," he said.
"At this stage we are looking for the owner, and are urging anyone with information regarding its home, or who may be behind this crime, to come forward," Mr OShannessy said.