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Man and woman failed to care for 11 cats

Credit: RSPCA Cymru

A man and woman have been sentenced after they failed to care for 11 cats – with four cats being concealed by the woman in a shopping bag.

The four cats were found to be concealed in a small cat carrier – expected to carry a single cat – and were discovered by RSPCA deputy chief Gemma Cooper who was driving to the defendant’s property that day.

The cat carrier smelt extremely foul of cat urine and faeces and it was stained yellow. Inside the cats were urine stained and had fleas. The discovery then led to 11 cats in total being removed due to their needs not being met and were taken into RSPCA care.

David Thomas and Pauline Perry (AKA Pauline Thomas) both of Pentwyn Avenue, Mountain Ash, appeared at Merthyr Magistrates’ Court on 5 July, and both pleaded guilty to one offence under the Animal Welfare Act in that they failed to ensure the needs of 11 cats*.

On Wednesday 23 August, Perry was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 10 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. She was also ordered to pay a £50 fine, £250 costs and a £115 victim surcharge. She was also banned from keeping all four limbed animals for four years. Custody of a cat was also transferred to the RSPCA.

On Wednesday 13 September, Thomas was sentenced to a 12 month community order including 10 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days, ordered to pay £250 costs, a £50 fine, £114 victim surcharge and was banned from keeping cats for four years.

In a written statement from RSPCA deputy chief inspector (DCI) Gemma Cooper – provided to the court – it was stated that several attempts were made to gain access to the Pentwyn Avenue property – but access was denied.

Multiple cat carriers and cages in the garden could be seen in the garden, flies were seen inside the property on the kitchen window and the smell of cat urine was described by DCI Cooper when she looked through the letterbox.

The court heard how DCI Cooper was driving along Pentwyn Avenue on February 1, 2023 – as she was due to attend the property that day – when she spotted Pauline Perry walking along the street.

Picture of Pauline Parry when found with the bag of cats

DCI Cooper said: “Pauline Perry was walking a brindle lurcher dog I know as Sheba and she was also carrying what looked like a very heavy bag for life.

“It looked heavy because she kept putting it on the floor every ten or so steps. Sheba was wearing a red jacket which covered the majority of her body. I wondered whether Pauline Perry was purposely removing Sheba from Pentwyn Avenue before my arrival because she had a health problem she did not want me to see.

“I turned the van around and went and spoke with Pauline Perry who jumped out of her skin when she saw me.

“As I approached Pauline Perry, to my horror, I could hear cats fighting in the bag for life.”

Shopping bag with cat carrier inside

DCI Cooper asked what she had in there and she replied ‘cats’ and that she didn’t know how many were in there. DCI Cooper also noted that she could see fresh scratch marks on her hands and face.

Perry agreed for DCI Cooper to look at the cats. DCI Cooper said: “The cats were inside a single cat carrier, designed for one small cat or kitten only which had been concealed inside a pink bag for life.

“The cat carrier smelt extremely foul of cat urine and faeces and it was stained yellow. I said to Pauline Perry that I did not feel safe letting them out of the carrier on the main road in case they escaped and so I would like to take them to a vet to inspect them.”

The couple also agreed for the cats to be signed over to the RSPCA and also allowed entry into their home.

DCI Cooper said: “As we entered the house there was the same foul smell of cat urine and faeces which came from the bag hit me and I had to hold my breath.

“We first went upstairs and saw two large animal crates which had been collapsed. We then went into the kitchen where there was cat faeces over the floor, up the walls and on the kitchen cupboards.

“It was extremely smelly and there were lots of flies in the room. In the middle of the kitchen was a guinea pig cage with two cats inside. These cats had no access to water or a litter tray and it was far too small to house them.”

These cats were signed over to the RSPCA. A further five cats were found in the house and then signed over. In total 11 cats were removed – one of these was not signed over but was taken into the care of the RSPCA.

The cats were taken to the RSPCA Merthyr Tydfil Veterinary Clinic where they were examined.

The first four cats to be examined were the ones found inside the bag/carrier;

  • A tabby and white male cat who had severe alopecia to the majority of his body and limbs.  He had fleas and flea dirt and was underweight. His coat was smelly and his paws were urine stained.

  • A torbie female cat who had faecal contamination over her body and tail. Her paws were also urine stained and she was underweight. Flea dirt was seen throughout her coat.

  • A black and white female cat. Her white paws and legs were yellow in colour from urine. She smelt and she was covered in fleas.

  • A dark tortoiseshell,female cat who had scabs around her neck and back end. Her fur was dirty and thinning and fleas were visible throughout her body.

Other cats had fur loss, fleas and one male cat had yellow paws from urine staining.

The vet said the four cats had been placed in the small cat carrier – which was designed to carry just one cat.

He said: “They were cramped up against each other and severely restricted in their ability to move. This will have caused notable physical discomfort and stress, the cats did vocalise and hiss repeatedly until we were able to let them out in a contained indoor environment.

“This was in contrast to how they behaved after having been let out. All the cats were a little nervous but we were able to handle them easily and did not continue their vocalisation after being released.

“This was a totally inappropriate way for the owner to transport the animals, directly causing them unnecessary discomfort and stress.”

These cats – were subsequently given the appropriate veterinary treatment in RSPCA care –  although on veterinary advice one cat was sadly put to sleep on welfare grounds.

One cat who had not been signed over was taken into possession by the police and has now been officially signed over to the RSPCA. The other cats have been rehomed or are still looking for homes.