French sentences couple for hoarding 160 cats

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A French couple, who shared their apartment with close to 160 cats and seven dogs, on Wednesday received a one-year suspended prison sentence and a permanent ban on keeping pets.

The Nice Criminal Court ruled that the man and woman “were guilty of the offence of abandonment, given the very poor state of health” of the animals.

It also ordered the couple to pay more than 150,000 euros in damages to animal welfare associations.

AFP reported on Wednesday that the couple lived with a total of 159 cats and seven dogs in an 80-square-metre apartment in Nice.

In 2023, police officers responding to a neighbourhood dispute found dozens of dehydrated, malnourished animals covered in parasites and lesions in every room of the couple’s home.

In a bathroom, investigators also found the bodies of at least two cats and two puppies.

At the end of the trial the owner of the animals, a 68-year-old woman, said she had no intention of “giving up”.

“Who wouldn’t appeal against an injustice like this?” she said.

“It’s like telling a woman she won’t have any more children,” she added.

“They were the loves of my life but things have gone off track,” the owner said.

She insisted that the apartment’s state of disrepair and the condition of her animals were temporary.

She said she was looking for solutions but had found herself helpless because of an infection that affected the cats and the heatwave that had made her ill.

A psychiatric assessment revealed a mental condition known as the “Noah syndrome”, or animal hoarding, characterised by an urge to keep a higher-than-usual number of animals without the ability to properly look after them.

The woman and her 52-year-old partner were facing eviction proceedings and an 8,000-euro ($8,665) rental debt.

In 2014, the couple had already been the subject of an investigation when they lived with 13 cats and a dog in an 18-square-metre studio.

Several years later the woman took in around 30 cats found in an abandoned building, believing that they were at risk of being poisoned. Then the animals reproduced.

AFP

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