A BARNSLEY man has been handed a suspended prison sentence after his flea-ridden cats were found living in squalor.

Darren Woodhouse, 41, of Aireton Road, had been given a warning notice by the RSPCA in July last year about the appalling conditions at his property - which was at Roundwood Court in Worsbrough.

He was subsequently told to clean it up or sign his two cats - a ginger and white cat called Pud and a tabby cat called Curly Tail - over to the charity.

The RSPCA described the situation as ‘horrendous’, and the cats were both underweight and suffering from a severe flea infestation.

Woodhouse was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison - suspended for 12 months - at a hearing on May 16.

He was also disqualified from keeping animals for ten years after admitting to two charges contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 at an earlier hearing.

RSPCA inspector Jack Taylor said: “The landing area was filled with household rubbish and bin bags.

“The room to the left, which was mostly blocked by bin bags, was also stacked with black bags.

In Text Promo Image

“To the right was a bedroom, also covered in household rubbish with a dirty mattress, no bedding and general clutter.

“Cat faeces were seen on the floor under the window.

“Finally I saw the cluttered living room which had a large leather sofa and an armchair.

“I spoke to Darren and told him the conditions were appalling and he had two options - sign the animals over to the RSPCA for rehoming as this was not the first time we had attended over complaints of poor conditions, or be given the opportunity to clean up.”

Inspector Taylor returned with a colleague the following month to check on the conditions but there was no answer and calls to Woodhouse - who was advised that a warrant would be sought to enter the flat - went straight to voicemail.

On September 8, Woodhouse was arrested as the flat had somehow become even worse.

“The images shown to me by Inspector Taylor depict an environment totally unacceptable for housing cats or other companion animals,” said the vet - who wished to remain anonymous.

“No water bowl was present and the only images of food that were captured was of a small amount of cat food in a sealed container that was not accessible to them.

“The large amount of litter and debris in the home posed a risk of injury to both of them.

“The litter tray had not been cleaned or emptied in several weeks.

“The owner had therefore failed to protect either of their cats from illness or suffering.

“In my professional opinion I would attribute a minimum period of suffering of three months for both cats, with a range of three to six months being most probable.”

He narrowly avoided a jail sentence due to having no previous convictions, but will pay court costs of £500.

The cats have since been rehomed by the Sheffield branch of the RSPCA.

Inspector Taylor added: “The living conditions inside the flat were not fit for humans or animals.

“The owner in this case was given ample opportunity to clean up and provide a safe and comfortable environment for Pud and Curly Tail, but he failed to do so.

“The cats also suffered because they were infested with fleas and veterinary advice and treatment was not sought.

“With the right treatment and care at our Sheffield centre they both recovered well and have since been happily adopted.”