An Auckland woman has been disqualified from owning felines for five years after 32 cats were discovered living in squalid conditions at her property.
Jane Whitworth, who appeared in Manukau district court today, has also been sentenced to 12 month's supervision, a fine of $5,000 and ordered to pay the SPCA $4,416.
The animal hoarder was prosecuted by the SPCA after SPCA Inspectors were alerted to the woman's South Auckland property in 2016.
When they arrived, Inspectors found the front of the house was heavily littered and a large volume of cat litter bags were piled outside the front door.
Inspectors saw multiple enclosures housing cats around the property and approximately 10 cats with obvious signs of illness.
The cats on the property had thin body condition, poor grooming, eyes missing, eye and
nasal discharge, breathing difficulties and were unsociable.
When approached, the cats retreated in a frantic manner.
With further investigations, Inspectors found enclosures housing multiple cats and littered in soiled furniture and bedding, torn-up newspaper, and faeces.
Inside, the kitchen and living areas were also covered in faeces and excessive amounts of household objects.
Throughout the enclosures, house and property there was an excessive stench of ammonia.
The Inspectors left a notice of entry and requested the owner to make contact.
Whitworth responded, telling Inspectors she owned the property and the cats but resided in Central Auckland.
She said she came back daily to feed them and give them water, but admitted she failed to do any cleaning at the property and the state of the place was not acceptable.
She revealed that she treated some of her pets for cat flu, however she knew that the cats were getting reinfected because of the unsanitary living conditions.
Therefore, Whitworth agreed she would start a cleaning regime and a recheck inspection was set up for a fortnight.
When SPCA Inspectors returned two weeks later, the property was in the same condition as it was previously.
While some newspaper scraps had been cleaned from the outdoor cabin floors, faeces and urine remained.
A week later, an SPCA vet went to the property along with the Inspector team to complete a full examination of all the cats.
When they arrived, Whitworth became volatile, saying she did not want the cats removed, as they had been living at the residence their whole lives.
Eventually, she left and the inspection continued.
Many of the cats had health concerns including discharge and mucosal tissue visible in empty eye sockets, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, sneezing, dental disease, increased respiratory effort and open mouth breathing.
Several cats had severe skin diseases, ringworm, severe dental diseases, glaucoma, ocular discharge, nasal discharge and Feline Leukaemia.
The SPCA vet said, "the majority of these health issues caused continual pain and suffering due to the lack of medical treatment needed. The environment itself would have made it additionally difficult for any cat to remain healthy."
The veterinarian recommended 18 of the 32 cats be humanely euthanised due to their severe level of ill health and suffering.
A week later, SPCA Inspectors executed a search warrant, assisted by the New Zealand Police.
Thirty-two cats were then seized by SPCA, and staff took the cats to SPCA 's Auckland Centre veterinary hospital.
A veterinary pathologist found that most of the cats had a thin body condition, and clinical signs of upper respiratory disease, leading to stress, discomfort and pain.
"This particular case is one of the worst cases of animal hoarding we have prosecuted. These cats were living in filthy conditions which made them extremely unwell. There was no way to effectively administer the critical medication they needed, let alone let them have a healthy, good life," says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.
"Thankfully, under the watchful eye of the SPCA team, the cats who recovered from their illnesses were soon adopted into loving families. It is a relief for them to be able to live out their lives in happy, healthy homes, never again living amongst the waste of dozens of other cats, battling recurring health issues, and fighting to survive."