Cat-owners are now being asked to count any rodents or birds left on their doorstep as declarable earnings in their application for means-tested benefits, according to government sources.

The latest guidelines issued to employees of Atos, the private company responsible for benefit assessments, show that small birds and mammals should be included in the calculation of how much a family earns in an average month.

Edward Edwards, Area Assessment Manager for Atos, told the Herald “It has come to our attention that earnings in kind, leftovers, shop-soiled goods and food waste can make up a considerable ‘invisible bonus’ to workers in some sectors.”

“A person working in a takeaway, for example, could be bringing home dinner every night which would give them a significant unfair advantage over someone earning a similar wage in a non-food environment.”

“We need to take account of all income to a household in our calculations, and that includes edible prey brought home by pets. Some of the larger rodents have really quite a lot of meat on them and it wouldn’t be fair to hard-working families if we didn’t take this into consideration when deciding whether to award a claim for benefits.”

“Assessment by Atos staff of monthly income and outgoings already includes reasonable expenses incurred in pet ownership, such as vet bills, and of course food” Mr Edwards explained. “It’s about time pets brought something back to the equation instead of lying in the sun licking their bum holes all day. Particularly cats, they don’t even bark at burglars or have any discernible use.”

“Frogs, snakes, unidentifiable entrails and that weird blue shiny spleen bit don’t count as declarable income” confirmed Mr Edwards. “We’re not fucking maniacs you know.”