THREE kittens died after their owner failed to have them treated for a severe and chronic flea infestation, a court in Leeds has heard.
One kitten had already collapsed when the RSPCA arrived, and despite attempts to revive her, she had to be put to sleep. Two more female kittens died later.
Their owner, Angela Tennant, 48, pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates’ Court to causing unnecessary suffering to five kittens and an adult female cat between 1-14 July last year.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Evans said: “It was clear to anyone that these kittens were very poorly indeed, as was the adult cat, their mother.
“One of the kittens was collapsed, listless and gasping for breath when I got there, and although she was placed on oxygen at the vets there was nothing that could be done other than to put her to sleep to end her suffering.
“The kittens were literally crawling with fleas. When the vet put flea treatment on their bodies, the fleas were trying to escape it by running up their noses, in their eyes and ears.
“Fleas suck blood which causes the animals they infest to become anaemic. This is particularly dangerous for young animals, they literally suck the life out of them.
“Only two of the kittens, the bigger and stronger male kittens, and Tilly, were able to be saved.”
The court heard that the defendant had a litter of kittens from Tilly the previous year, all of which had died or had to be put to sleep in the same circumstances.
Tennant, of Waveney Road, Wortley, was disqualified from keeping any animals for one year, given a 12 month community order including 100 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £750 in costs. She was also deprived of Tilly, who will now be rehomed. The surviving kittens were signed over earlier and have already been adopted by great new owners.
RSPCA inspector Evans said: “This situation was entirely preventable, in fact it was the second time it had happened which is inexcusable.
“Flea treatment is part of every responsible pet owner’s routine and if what you’re using isn’t working you take them to the vets.
“Severe flea infestations can kill, as happened here more than once.”