Faeces, mould, rubbish, rotting food, soiled clothing and overflowing cartons of urine – it was some of the worst living conditions our team had ever seen, and it was home to 15 animals.
It was a police officer who first alerted RSPCA South Australia to the vacant Kilburn property, in Adelaide’s inner north, that could only be described as every animal’s worst nightmare.
Deprived of their most basic needs of food and water, several cats were locked in tiny cages, days from death – while others barely had room to walk through fly-infested rubbish and years’ worth of animal waste.
With the help of RSPCA rescue officers Soraya and Dave, RSPCA Inspector Leisa seized 13 cats and two dogs, all of whom were quite literally starving to death.
After freeing all 15 animals, RSPCA team begins treatment
Our team left a seizure notice on the door of the now-empty house, but it took another two days for the owner to return to the property and contact us.
It’s frightening to think that, without our intervention, these animals would have been left alone, forced to suffer in filth, for another 48 hours.
And it was filth like you wouldn’t believe.
“Flies were flying into our mouths while we were trying to breathe, as the smell was so intense that we couldn’t breathe through our noses without gagging,” RSPCA Rescue Officer Dave recalls.
Led by Chief Veterinarian Brad Ward, RSPCA South Australia’s veterinary team examined the distressed and underweight animals when they arrived at our Lonsdale shelter.
While the majority of cats didn’t have any life-threatening diseases, medical issues were rife. Issues ranged from rotten teeth, fleas, conjunctivitis and worms, to diabetes, digestive issues, skin irritation and cat flu.
“It was evident that the cats were not being fed adequately prior to seizure, and their living conditions and lack of human contact amounted to abuse of their mental health,” Dr Ward says.
Thankfully, for most of these felines, it was all uphill from here.
A new life just around the corner
With patience and care from our Lonsdale shelter team, 11 of the cats came out of their shells as they were nursed back to health. One by one, they were adopted into loving homes.
In particular, 8-year-old Ninja had no idea just how much his life was about to change.
Trapped in the smallest cage of all, our team predicted it was this Oriental kitty who had been left alone the longest.
In a touching end to his story, Ninja was welcomed into a luxurious and loving home with proud fur-mum Louann and fellow RSPCA rescue cat Sapphire.
“It was clear that Ninja never had a normal cat life, so I do everything I can to make sure he is happy and knows that he is loved,” delighted mum Louann tells us.
Lucky Ninja has his very own royal jungle gym, complete with cat hammocks and draped with the finest ribbon. He and Sapphire sit the sun daily, having ‘picnics’ on their favourite rug.
It couldn’t be further from the Ninja our team met at that vacant property – desperate to escape from his prison.
Horrendous treatment leaves four animals with irreversible conditions
Unfortunately, not all the animals were able to recover from living in such appalling environments.
The only dogs at the house, Lou Lou and Puddy were of grave concern to RSPCA veterinarians with their extensive health issues.
While flea-riddled Lou Lou had a severe case of ear mites, one of Puddy’s infected eyes needed immediate removal as it was close to rupture.
With serious sight issues and severe mental trauma, two cats – Sebastian and Deeshar – lost their fight.
We did everything we could to help these poor animals, but we had no choice but to put them out of the ongoing pain they had endured for far too long.
We’re glad we could be there for them in their final moments, and we hope they rest in peace.
But – Ninja and 10 other cats won’t have to worry about being trapped in a prison of squalor ever again.
The fight for justice in court begins
Behind the scenes, our legal team worked hard to advocate for all these animals in court, and to honour the four who didn’t make it.
While RSPCA South Australia is sympathetic to the plight of hoarders like the owner of this Kilburn property – we understand that hoarding is a mental illness – we exist to make sure that animal welfare standards are adhered to and that animals are safe.
In court, the defendant was ordered to pay $3,800 in vet bills and forbidden from owning any animals indefinitely.
“Conviction is great, cost recovery is ideal, but the best outcome is that no other animals will come to harm at the hands of this defendant,” says RSPCA South Australia Legal Counsel Damon Ind.
Thanks to the support of people like you, this horde of animals will never again have to suffer.
But it’s only with community donations that we can help animals like these be freed and regain their health before finding a loving home to see out the rest of their days. Please help them by donating today.