IT IS said that it is bad luck to have a black cat cross your path.
For two policemen who tried to save a feisty feline from a Melbourne freeway on Wednesday morning, the adage proved painfully true.
The officers were badly bitten and scratched by the ''savage'' cat as they tried to rescue it from the West Gate Freeway on-ramp at Kings Way.
It is, after all, 2013 - perhaps the most foreboding year since, well, 1913.
The pair, from St Kilda Road police station, had to be taken to the Epworth Hospital for treatment.
The officers blocked one lane of the road after being called about the cat about 6.50am.
With the help of CityLink staff, the feline was captured and put in a cardboard box, a police spokeswoman said.
''It's just a very savage and very frightened cat,'' she said.
The spokeswoman said the officers received puncture wounds to their hands, wrists and fingers, and an ambulance had been called, but was not needed.
The officers had taken video of the incident, which was being reviewed on Wednesday night. The cat had no collar or microchip, and RSPCA staff had not been able to get close enough to even determine its gender.
RSPCA Burwood supervisor Alice Curry said the cat would be given a name if it was determined to be fit for adoption later this week.
The cat, which Ms Curry said was a typical moggie aged between one and five, will be given two days to settle down so staff can establish if it lashed out because of the stress of being stuck on a busy road.
If it proves to have too violent a temperament for adoption, or appears to be feral, it will be euthanased.
''It's showing a typical flight or fight response at the moment, so we can't tell if it's timid or aggressive,'' Ms Curry said.
''As you can imagine, being pulled off a busy road by a policeman is extremely traumatic.''
Ms Curry said she had never been so badly injured by a cat that she required treatment in hospital, but said the policemen were right to be cautious.
''Cat scratches and bites can get infected much more easily than dog bites,'' she said.
''It is pretty funny, though.''