'Cannibal' cats left to die in house
Published 03/06/2010 | 05:00
SHOCKED rescue workers who forced entry into a house full of cats were confronted with horrific scenes of decay, carnage and cannibalism.
Up to 20 dead cats were strewn around the one-bedroom bungalow in Molloway Place in Sligo town -- and a further seven live but emaciated cats were running amok around the filthy property.
The tenant of the property, a single middle-aged man with serious health difficulties, is understood to have left the house, on a small estate close to the town centre, weeks ago, and is living elsewhere.
Gardai, staff from Sligo Borough Council and animal welfare officers forced entry into the council property after being alerted by neighbours.
"It was like something out of a horror movie," said Dorothy Kilgallen from Sligo Animal Rescue, a voluntary group.
"The first thing that hit us was the smell and then the barrage of flies and bluebottles that flew out as soon as the door was opened.
"There were carcasses and cat faeces, inches deep, everywhere. The cats that were alive were scurrying in every direction in total confusion, carrying dead ones in their mouths. It was absolutely horrific," she said yesterday.
According to eye-witnesses, one garda who entered the house rushed out seconds later to get sick in the garden.
The surviving animals were removed in cages, but one had to be put down later.
"The live ones were eating the dead ones to stay alive. They are all incredibly thin, skin and bone actually, and their backs are completely arched. They were so hungry that they ran right into the cages as soon as we put food in them.
"The first one out spent 10 minutes just drinking water, it was so dehydrated," she added.
But by last night, the six surviving cats were showing signs of making a good recovery.
"I think they have used up quite a few of their nine lives, but hopefully they have some left," said Ms Kilgallen.
Evidence at the scene, including empty food cans, cat toys and pictures, suggested the animals had been cared for until relatively recently.
Yesterday, neighbours revealed they had first contacted the Borough Council three months ago to express their concerns.
"It got to the stage that we looked through the windows. The blinds were down and the curtains closed but we could see millions of flies and bluebottles on the inside of the glass.
"That was when we contacted the council again as well as the gardai. For all we knew he could have been dead inside," said 16-year-old David Murtagh.
He said neighbours wanted to know why something had not been done sooner.
In a statement, Sligo Borough Council said it was "dealing with these issues as a matter of urgency".