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Crime Merthyr Tydfil News South Wales

Eight cats found abandoned in unsuitable and filthy conditions in Hirwaun

EIGHT abandoned cats were taken into the care of the RSPCA – after rescuers found them in a property full of rubbish, multiple lumps of faeces, stale food and urine stains

The cats were found unattended in a Hirwaun property and were seized by police on Monday 7 August last year. The cats were then placed into the care of the RSPCA.

They included a tabby long haired Maine Coon cat who had some matting on its back end, a cream and brown ragdoll cat, a cream and brown ragdoll cat, a grey and white ragdoll cat, a cream and brown ragdoll cat which was heavily matted all over its back end with urine stains all over its feet, a dark grey Maine Coon cat, a cream and brown ragdoll cat with large amounts of matting all over its body and a urine soaked stomach and hind legs and a cream and brown ragdoll cat with severe matting and a urine soaked coat. 

Jolene Collette Harris (d.o.b 09/06/1984) of Station Road, Cefn Coed, Merthyr Tydfil, was sentenced at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 8 May.

This followed a previous hearing in April when she pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act. 

They were that she failed to ensure the needs of eight cats were met in terms of a suitable environment, failed to meet their need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury or disease and by failing to provide adequate or reasonable daily care and supervision in respect of their protection from harm.

She also failed to check for signs of ill health leading to untreated ear and dental disease in respect to one cat and also failed to ensure two other cat’s coats were maintained in an appropriate condition.

The court also was provided information in regards to previous dealings with the RSPCA which included advice and guidance on suitable living environments.

At sentencing she was handed a five year disqualification ban on all animals. She was also ordered to pay a £200 fine, £400 costs and a £80 victim surcharge.

An order was also made for three cats to be signed over to the RSPCA, and there was also an order relinquishing her ownership of one elderly female cat that had remained in her care.

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In mitigation it was heard that she had no previous convictions, had personal difficulties and had genuine remorse.

The court heard from a witness statement provided by RSPCA Deputy Chief Inspector (DCI) Emma Smith that she attended Greenwood Drive in Hirwaun on 7 August last year alongside police who gained access.

She said: “The smell inside the bungalow was incredibly pungent from the minute you walked in. It was extremely unkempt inside the location with household items strewn everywhere, bags of rubbish piled up and grime and mess on the floors.”

As she entered the living room she saw two cats – one cream ragdoll and another which ran off. She saw a cat food bowl in the room which was empty but there was water present. Two litter trays contained multiple lumps of faeces and there was some diarrhoea on the floor.

DCI Smith said she then walked through the living room to a small hallway which led to a toilet and a bedroom. 

“The overwhelming smell of urine and ammonia continued throughout the bungalow along with the grime and rubbish,” she said.

She found a third cat in the bedroom which “appeared nervous” and ran off. This cat had access to a bathroom which contained a bowl of water and bowl with some dry cat food. There were also two litter trays present which contained multiple lumps of faeces.

DCI Smith said she then came to a closed door which said ‘Please do not open door cats in here loose’. She was only able to open the door a third of the way.

She said: “I was able to squeeze through the gap and look behind the door and could see that the resistance was coming from piles and piles of mouldy faeces which had built up behind the door, stopping it from opening. 

“The sight and smell in this room was the worst I have seen in 14 years of being an RSPCA Inspector and I had to keep taking breaks from the room to stop my eyes watering and my nose lining stinging. 

“The room was caked in old and new faeces throughout. Urine stains were all over the floor along with rubbish and ground in old and stale food. There were piles of cat fur which were caked in faeces and knotted up and there was no clear part of the floor that was not smeared or caked in faeces.


She found water bowls but the contents were yellow where the cats had obviously urinated inside. There were a number of cat carriers in the room but again all of these were completely caked inside with faeces. There was no clean space and no suitable bedding. 

There was a small bowl of water present by the door but DCI Smith was told that it had been put there by another person on Saturday when they had discovered the cats in these conditions with no access to food or water. 

Five cats had been confined within this room, all of whom DCI Smith described as “subdued”.

She added, “Their coats were stained and smelly and a number of these cats were heavily matted. There was no ventilation in this room and no way of escaping the conditions.”

All eight cats from within the bungalow were seized by police and were transferred to the RSPCA Merthyr Tydfil Veterinary Clinic.

Five of the cats were signed over by the owner – four of which have been rehomed. Now following the court case – the others will be made available for rehoming. 

One of them – Skylar (known for the case as ES-3, and pictured before and after above) has been under the care of one of RSPCA Newport Adoptober Centre’s foster carers – who now are hoping to rehome her.

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