Woman given 10-year cat ban after 29 felines found in squalor at her Christchurch home

One of the cats found in poor conditions. Credit: RSPCA

A Dorset woman who kept a large number of Persian cats in conditions of squalor has been given a 10-year ban from owning any further felines.

RSPCA officers, who went to Lorraine George’s home in Christchurch on March 8 last year, found 29 cats were living in the property.

George had the housed the felines in the bathroom, bedrooms, ensuite and two pens in a conservatory of the property, which were all littered with faeces and dirt.

They, along with officers from Dorset Police, found many of the cats were in poor health, suffering from a number of ailments, including eye infections, respiratory illness, flea infestations, severely matted fur, while many were emaciated, two had ingrown claws and others dental issues.

One of the cats found in the property. Credit: RSPCA

One cat had to be put to sleep to end her suffering, the charity said.

RSPCA inspector Patrick Bailey said in a statement presented to the court that nearly all the ground floor of George’s property was inaccessible because of the amount of clutter.

“We were confronted by a wall of boxes and parcels, creating a thin walkway through the hallway to the kitchen, and I could hear cats calling throughout the house,” said the inspector.

“There was also a very strong, unpleasant smell of ammonia and it was impossible to enter the living room and dining room as they were stacked floor to ceiling with boxes of belongings."

Conditions at the property were described as 'squalid'. Credit: RSPCA

The court heard that police found the defendant asleep on the floor of a bedroom, while her bathroom and an ensuite were occupied by cats.

A vet, who examined the cats, stated: “None of the pens provided a suitable environment for the needs of the cats as they were housing too many cats for the area provided. That and poor ventilation and hygiene contributed to a high prevalence of multiple infectious diseases.

“The provision of food and water was inadequate and food bowls were dirty and empty, litter tray provision was inadequate and there was a lack of enrichment for all the cats.”

One of the bedrooms some of the cats were living in was too hot, with poor ventilation, and the vet noted: “There was faecal staining all over the furniture, windowsill, bookshelves, bedside cabinets and faeces in the bed itself. The smell in this room was horrific.”

29 cats were removed from the property in total. Credit: RSPCA

George, of Freshwater Road, Christchurch, pleaded not guilty to 13 Animal Welfare Act offences, but was convicted after a trial. She was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison  suspended for two years when she appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court on August 8.

She also received a disqualification order, which bans her from owning cats for 10 years and she was told to pay the costs of the legal proceedings, which amounted to £53,275.78.

Sentencing her, the judge, HHJ Fuller, KC, said: “You had an excessive number of cats, which you were incapable of caring for. You obstinately refused to accept advice from others relating to the cats’ care. All these conditions would have been obvious to a careful and competent cat owner.

“This is not a case of incompetent care, this was prolonged disregard. This is a case of obstinacy and obsession and you showed deliberate disregard for animal welfare.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...