Forced to feed cats through a letterbox

An animal welfare charity was forced to feed two cats through a letterbox after their owner left them to fend for themselves for around a week.

The Scottish SPCA was eventually able to gain access to Elisha Walker's house in North Lanarkshire and took the pets into its care.

Walker, 27, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court last week and admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Minty, a black and white female, and Hamish, a tabby and white male.

She also pleaded guilty to failing to provide a suitable living environment or making adequate provisions for the two cats.

Walker was fined £270 and banned from keeping animals for two years.

The Scottish SPCA said it was first alerted to Walker in September 2019 amid concerns she had abandoned her Motherwell home and left her cats behind.

Officers attended and found three cats inside the property that were in a good condition.

The pets had access to food but had run out of water.

Jack Marshall, Scottish SCPA inspector, said: "The property was in substandard condition and somewhat cluttered. The litter trays needed to be cleaned and there was a bin in the bathroom shut away from the cats which smelled foul due to festering meat in in the bottom of it.

"Provisions were made for the cats, the property was secured, and a Scottish SPCA calling card [was] taped to the door urging the owner to make contact urgently."

Walker replied to the card a few hours later.

The Scottish SPCA attended the following day and reported that the property had been partially cleaned and tidied.

Inspector Marshall added: "We issued Walker with an animal welfare notice for the rest of the property to be cleaned and tidied to an acceptable manner, and for the cats to be tended to at least twice daily to ensure their welfare needs were being met."

Inspectors returned a few days later and reported that the notice had been complied with.

The charity was next contacted on 16 May 2021 following concerns that Walker had once again left the cats unattended, this time for around four days.

Inspector Marshall said: "An inspector visited the property and found it to be unoccupied with a foul smell emanating from it.

"We taped the doors to see if anyone was attending the cats and continued to visit over the next few days, supplying them with wet food through the letterbox.

"During this time the tape remained unbroken."

The Scottish SPCA eventually gained entry to the property on 19 May and took Minty and Hamish into its care.

Inspector Marshall said: "The premises were in very poor condition with household rubbish, clutter and cat faeces strewn throughout.

"There was no food or water present for the cats and the litter trays were full of faeces.

"Some of the rubbish showed evidence that the cats had been chewing and clawing at it looking for food.

"We immediately removed both cats from the property took them to be seen by a vet."

Both cats were found to be dehydrated and in lean body condition.

Officers returned to the house the following day to check on a humane cat trap that had been set up just in case other pets were present at the property.

During the visit, Walker arrived in a taxi.

Inspector Marshall said: "When questioned about the incident she stated she had been unwell and staying at her partner's address and a friend had agreed to care for the cats. However, she was unable to provide any contact details for the person she named."

Although the Scottish SPCA is "glad" Walker received a ban, the charity would have "liked" it to be longer.

Inspector Marshall added: "Walker has never offered any reasonable explanation as to why Minty and Hamish were left in such conditions, which resulted directly from her failure to attend regularly and maintain a suitable living environment for the cats.

"The situation overall was completely unacceptable and caused the cats considerable suffering."