Two young cats left behind when MP John Tamihere moved house had feline HIV and have been put down.
The ginger toms, both aged 2 to 3 years old and believed to have been un-neutered, were left without food or water for 11 days at Mr Tamihere's West Auckland home when he shifted.
The Herald understands they were destroyed after being found suffering from feline immunodeficiency virus - the cat equivalent of the human Aids virus - though the SPCA would not confirm this.
SPCA Auckland chief executive Bob Kerridge said he would not comment on what happened to the cats after they were picked up.
However, he said the SPCA was "really angry" about the situation of the animals.
"We take it very seriously. Abandonment is one of the worst crimes. It is deliberate. It is not as if they lose them."
More controversy is the last thing Mr Tamihere needs on his first week back in Parliament.
He has just returned after stress leave prompted by the fall-out from his explosive interview in which he aired offensive views about Jews and women and called some Labour colleagues "queer", "tosser" and "smarmy".
He now faces a new public backlash, with criticism from Opposition MPs last night and one animal welfare organisation calling his actions inexcusable.
The SPCA received a complaint about the cats from neighbours on April 21 - 11 days after Mr Tamihere left the Henderson Valley Rd property.
Officers rescued the pair and spoke to Mr Tamihere the same day.
He confirmed they were his, but said he had been planning to return to pick them up.
Mr Kerridge said abandoning an animal was a "callous act" and it was astonishing that a high-profile member of a Government which passed laws to protect animals had abandoned the cats.
"It does not matter if it is Smith, Brown or Tamihere. It is the same crime.
"People abandon cats thinking they can look after themselves, and it really does annoy us."
Mr Tamihere has been given a written warning which will be placed on file.
But the Tamaki Makaurau MP avoided prosecution because he willingly signed over ownership of the cats to the SPCA.
However, National MP Judith Collins said he should have faced charges.
"I don't care who you are. There's no excuse to treat domestic cats in this way."
Mr Tamihere was in a Government that passed laws about animal cruelty and he should face the consequences of his actions, Ms Collins said.
Green MP Sue Kedgley said a lot of cats were abandoned in New Zealand and the fact Mr Tamihere was a high-profile person threw light on the issue.
"I think it's terrible to abandon cats. If you have a pet, there's an obligation to care for them," she said.
Animal Advocates spokeswoman Catriona MacLennan said there was no excuse for abandoning defenceless animals.
"The fact that an MP and former Cabinet minister, who should be a good role model, would behave in such a way sends an appalling message to the wider community about how animals should be treated," Ms MacLennan said.
Mr Tamihere refused to discuss the incident yesterday.
"If the SPCA says that's what happened," he said, "then that's probably the case."
* Feline immunodeficiency virus is a viral infection which attacks the immune system.
* It is caused by the same family of viruses that triggers Aids in humans.
* Infected cats eventually fall prey to a wide variety of secondary illnesses that overwhelmingly prove fatal.
* There is no cure, but cats can live up to 10 years before succumbing. It cannot be transmitted to humans.