The stench of urine reeked out from the apartment, and once inside the horrifying reason for the odour became clear. 73 cats and two dogs were living in one three-room apartment in Luleå, in northern Sweden.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this before,” Greta Wilhelmsson Alexis, experienced county veterinarian, said to the local newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten (NSD).
The unpleasant discovery wasn’t the first time that the owner, a 45 year-old man, came into contact with animal protection officers.
The man was reported by his neighbours in July last year, and officers discovered that he was keeping several cats and dogs in an unsatisfactory and unsanitary environment.
He was therefore immediately forbidden to have more than nine full-grown and castrated cats in the small apartment.
Instead, the situation appears to have spiralled out of control. The County Administrative Board’s check-up last month revealed the full extent of the horror.
73 cats, uncastrated male and female adults as well as several kittens were living together. Several were inbred.
Fur balls littered the apartment, and urine and faeces covered the floor and alongside the walls.
“Cats aren’t pack animals. This isn’t a good environment for them. They haven’t been able to run aside, and they’ve been forced to live in a very dirty environment,” said Erika Johansson, head of the County Administrative Board’s animal protection unit, to NSD.
When this was unveiled, the animals were immediately taken into custody, with the help of police, and are now living in an animal shelter.
“We hope that the cats can be sold, or given over in some other way, to new owners. If that isn’t possible, I’m afraid the alternative is to have them put down,” said Erika Johansson to NSD.
The cat owner has opposed the board’s decision to take the cats. According to NSD, his own explanation for the situation was that he couldn’t afford to castrate or sterilise his cats.
It’s still unsure whether or not the man will be charged with animal cruelty.