Jeffrey, a lovely black and white cat, had been left for six days by his owner, Natalie Armitage, before he finally became so desperately hungry that he broke into the cage of a pet hamster and ate it.
Jeffrey had been trying to survive by drinking water from the toilet and eating stale dog biscuits for almost a week, according to prosecutor Tanya Forrest.
Natalie Armitage, the 20-year-old owner of both pets (until the hamster’s untimely death), appeared in court and pleaded guilty to four animal welfare charges and has been banned from keeping any animals for five years, the Daily Mail reported on February 19.
Andrew Entwistle, Chairman of the bench at Calderdale’s Magistrates Court in Halifax (UK), heard RSPCA inspectors testify that they had repeatedly attempted to contact Armitage at her West Yorkshire, England, address in October of last year because of complaints and concerns about the animals’ welfare.
The tragic discovery was made when police were finally called and had to gain entry into Armitage’s dark house in order to rescue Jeffrey. However, it was too late to save the hamster. “In the living room the hamster cage was broken into pieces and there was no sign of the hamster,” said prosecutor Forrest.
Forrest showed photos of the demolished cage and said: 'I think that is evidenced by the cage - the cat broke into it. 'Regrettably, the consequence was the hamster met its fate.”
Armitage, who represented herself, said that she went to Crewe, which is about 55 miles away, for dental treatment, but her son became ill and she was away longer than expected. She also said a disagreement with her mother and sister left her without someone to check on the pets.
Armitage said she thought she was away for around six nights, according to the Daily Mail.
At the hearing, Chairman Entwistle, told the defendant, “You left the cat for longer than you like to admit. The cat did suffer. The hamster is no more.”
Armitage admitted to four charges: (1) not providing a suitable environment for Jeffrey; (2) not providing a suitable diet for the cat, including water; (3) subjecting Jeffrey to pain, suffering, injury and disease; and (4) not protecting the hamster from pain, suffering, injury and disease. (And, in this case, from a horrorifying death.)
Armitage, who is on welfare, was fined £50 ($77) with £200 ($308) court costs, and a £15 ($23) victim surcharge, and was banned from keeping animals for five years.
Jeffrey has been at a boarding facility while awaiting the outcome of the hearing. Armitage’s ownership rights were revoked by an order of the court as a part of the ban on keeping animals.
After the hearing, an RSPCA spokesperson told reporters that this was is a very sad situation for both the cat and the hamster--left to fend for themselves for nearly a week.
'It is not the cat's fault that he found himself drawn, through hunger, to seek out his only option for sustenance” she said, “But on the other hand, one can only imagine the hamster's terror as his cage was broken apart.”
'It is a crime to leave your pets without arranging for their basic welfare needs to be taken care of,” she told the Daily Mail.
Jeffrey, the cat, is now in a new, loving home.