Man who let cats starve to death is banned from owning pets for life

A man who left his cats to starve to death has been banned from keeping animals for life.

After concerns were raised to the RSPCA, inspectors found two dead cats at Christian Van Souwe’s home in Oldbury in 2019 as well as an alive but emaciated cat called Abbarth.

A vet determined the two deceased cats, named Homer and Azrael, had died from a starvation-induced disease.

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BirminghamLive has decided not to publish graphic photographs showing the cats’ emaciated bodies.

RSPCA inspectors also found black foam in vomit passed by Abbarth as well as bite marks in a mat found inside the home.

Inspectors concluded the cat had likely been eating the mat because there was no other food available.

At Dudley Magistrates’ Court on August 11, two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal on or before March 2019 were proved in Van Souwe’s absence.

The charges stated that Van Souwe knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that his failure to ensure the cats were provided with a sustainable diet would cause them unnecessary suffering.

In mitigation, it was said that Van Souwe was experiencing mental health issues and that his partner was suffering from ill health and was in hospital.

The 55-year-old, of Hartlebury Road, was sentenced to ten weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.

RSPCA Inspector Vicki Taylor, who investigated the case on behalf of the animal welfare charity, said: “Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is the duty of the person responsible for an animal to ensure its welfare needs are met, including its need for a suitable diet, and its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

“The suffering endured by these cats could have been avoided by the owner taking reasonable steps to ensure fresh food and water was offered daily to the cats.”

She added: “Pieces of black foam matting were seen in vomit passed by Abbarth. The irregular edges and bite marks present in the foam suggested the pieces had been chewed off a larger foam mat, of which the material is inedible and has no nutritional value.

“It is possible this material was ingested due to a lack of alternative food sources.

“Veterinary findings from all three cats were supportive of the owner failing to provide adequate nutrition, resulting in the emaciation of Abbarth, and the deaths of Homer and Azrael through starvation and starvation-induced disease.”

Van Souwe was ordered to carry out up to 24 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days and pay costs of £500 and a £115 victim surcharge.

He can not appeal his lifetime ban for five years.

Abbarth has since recovered and has been found a new home by the RSPCA.

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