Ryan Tubridy has described RTÉ bosses as “utterly ridiculous” for refusing to let the owner of the ‘Love/Hate’ machine gun-murdered cat speak to his 2FM morning show.
Tubridy told his radio listeners he thought it was “frankly hilarious” that the RTÉ show bosses initially refused to reveal who the controversial cat is and have now insisted the cat’s owner does not speak to the media.
The black and white cat hit headlines on Monday morning following a gruesome scene in the first instalment of the fourth series of ‘Love/Hate’ where a teenage boy shows off to his friends by machine gunning the moggy down.
Seven disgruntled viewers called RTÉ and 10 more emailed complaints to the station after the episode aired.
“The cat’s name is Cleo, alive, well and with us in the world,” Tubridy revealed to his listeners as he explained how the cat owner refused to speak to his radio show’s researcher team.
“We found an animal handler, he’s like the cat whisperer. His name is Eddie Drew,” he continued.
“We rang Eddie and said, ‘Do you have the cat from Love/Hate’? and he said, ‘Yes, I do’.
“Eddie said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t talk to you. I’ve been told by senior members of our organisation that I can’t talk to you’.
“We said, ‘It’s just a cat, it’s just a bit of fun’ and the line went cold and his phone has not been available for us to get through ever since.”
Tubridy also invited acting cat Cleo to ‘The Late Late Show’ on Friday night to prove he’s alive and well.
Following the controversy, the broadcaster issued a statement that "no animal was harmed during the making of 'Love/Hate' series four".
An RTÉ spokeswoman said that the cat was at all times under the supervision of an experienced animal handler. She said the blood was computer generated and no fake blood was used near the cat.
The cat was anaesthetised by a vet to ensure it 'played dead'.
By comparison, an episode in the previous series, featuring the fatal shooting of a man and a woman, sparked five complaints.
'Love/Hate' writer Stuart Carolan has previously spoken about viewer sensitivity to anything involving animals.
"There was one particularly horrific scene in the first series, in which Hughie (Brian Gleeson) murders a Traveller in his caravan,” Carolan said.
“I can't overemphasise how important that scene was to me in terms of establishing the depravity of that situation. Yet I anticipated a viewer reaction that never came. We had far more complaints about the scene in which Luke killed a swan."
The new series is already a hit, with 970,600 people tuning in for the first instalment.