About 200 people made an astonishing 66,000 prank and nuisance 999 calls to the Met Police this year, Scotland Yard has revealed, prompting officers to warn they were being prevented from dealing with real emergencies by a small number of timewasters.
Figures also show 10 people alone were responsible for nearly 20,000 of nuisance calls made since January.
Among some of the more ridiculous calls to 999 made this year include a complaint about being followed by a hissing cat, a dispute over dog grooming, and a report of a fox outside someone's home.
Callers also dialled the emergency services about an undelivered freezer, a pair of faulty headphones and to request a lift home because they had no money for a taxi.
The Met Police have released audio extracts of some nuisance calls as part of a campaign to remind the public that 999 calls should only be made if someone is in danger or when a crime is actually taking place.
Chief Superintendent Pippa Mills, who leads the Met's Command and Control Unit, said: "Although the majority of people who require police assistance use the numbers correctly, there are still too many calls to emergency lines where the 999 number is being used as an information service. In many cases a simple internet search would provide the answer to the question posed by the caller.
"This presents a real risk to our ability to respond to genuine emergency calls."
She urged people not requiring immediate assistance to instead ring the police non-emergency 101 number. Certain crimes, including theft, damage to property, and hate crime, can also be reported online.
The Met Police said the last 12 months had seen the number of 999 calls rise by 11.2% – an additional 216,000 calls – with the increase thought to be, in part, due to London's increasing population and the reduction of some out-of-hours services by other service providers.
Scotland Yard said the rise had affected service delivery, with the average 999 call answered by operators in 11 seconds.
Some 25 arrests have been made for nuisance calls to the emergency services this year, with some culprits being fined and others held under the Mental Health Act. The estimated cost of timewasters is said to be £500,000 (€594,000, $619,000).