A Yorkshire man has been banned from keeping animals for the rest of his life after he admitted killing a cat and neglecting more than a dozen others.
John Fitzgerald's partner Jacqueline Glennon has also been banned from keeping animals for life after the neglected cats were found at their home in Malton Street in Halifax.
RSPCA inspectors Kris Walker and Nikki Cheetham had been sent to the couple's on April 1 after it was reported that Fitzgerald, 51, had strangled his pet cat called Guinevere. They were also concerned about the health of the other 18 cats the couple kept at the property.
Mr Walker said when he got to the home he asked Fitzgerald if he had strangled the cat, to which he instantly replies "yes", however a report later found the cat died due to a blunt force trauma.
After checking the conditions of the other cats, he found they had various ailments including flea infestations, skin disease, underweight body conditions and some were suffering from flu-like symptoms.
He said: "I noted six cats in the living room, all were scabby and smelled strongly of urine, and five cats on the second floor that were all underweight and scabby.
"On the top floor of the property I noted more female cats who appeared to be in the worst condition. They were all scabby, full of fleas, had hair loss, breathing issues, were snotty and fluey.
"All of the cats in the house I noted to have health issues, all of the rooms smelled strongly of ammonia and were dirty, the cats were all scratching and had open sores in various areas and varying degrees of hair loss.”
The body of Guinevere was found in the bathroom sink. A pathologist report later found she had an obvious tumour which had spread to her lymph nodes and the kidney. It also found that the cat had not been strangled but had died from a blunt force trauma.
The report added: “The tumour is likely to have been rapidly progressive but it would have been a clearly observable mass for a prolonged period before death. The cat will have become progressively weak and required vet evaluation for several months prior to death.
"The pathologist also comments that is likely to have been very weak at the time of death and also that there was no evidence to confirm that had been strangled. The features suggest that a blunt trauma to the head was the likely cause of death.”
The couple admitted all the cats were in their joint care and none had received treatment from vets.
Fitzgerald pleaded guilty to six animal welfare offences while Glennon, 45, pleaded guilty to three.
As well as the ban on all animals Fitzgerald was also handed a 12 month community order requiring him to carry out 280 hours of unpaid work in the community. He was also ordered to pay £400 costs and a victim surcharge of £95 at the sentencing hearing on December 14.
In mitigation for Fitzgerald the court heard he had no previous convictions and he had served his country in the Army and would be deeply ashamed if he received a prison sentence.
Glennon was also given a life ban on keeping all animals and was ordered to pay £300 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
In mitigation the hearing was told Glennon was in poor health, was no longer in a relationship with Fitzgerald and she accepted she could have done more.
Mr Walker added: “I am grateful to the member of the public who reported this matter to us. This meant we were able to rescue 18 cats in poor health and they were rehabilitated in our care and I am delighted to say they have all been rehomed.”