A jail sentence hangs over a woman whose pet cat had a “fist-sized” ulcer infested by maggots.
Chesterfield magistrates also banned Joanne Hirst from keeping cats for seven years following the offence when she lived in Oakwood Way, Mastin Moor..
The 18-year-old cat - which had to be put down - was first brought to the attention of the RSPCA in late April by someone concerned about its condition.
An officer noticed its coat was thoroughly matted and a vet advised it should be cleaned under anaesthetic and checked for a possible urinary tract infection.
Hirst was told this but, 18 days later, the cat, named Jessy, was seen collapsed in a neighbouring garden and taken to a vet again by an officer.
“It had grossly deteriorated and had a fist-sized hole on its left flank that was filled with a large number of live maggots,” said Brian Orsborn, prosecuting.
“The ulcer contained puss and foul-smelling necrotic tissue which should have made the condition obvious to the owner.
“The maggots had eaten through the skin, exposing muscle and leaving a 7cms hole. The vet suspected they had entered its abdomen and decided it was more humane to put it to sleep.”
Hirst, 42, now of Maltkiln Road, Cuckney, near Worksop, denied charges of failing to ensure the welfare of a cat and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal on dates between April 26 and May 15.
She was convicted following a trial and jailed for 12 weeks by presiding magistrate Paul Beard. He suspended the sentence for a year and imposed a one-year probation supervision order and an 8pm-7am curfew for 12 weeks, with £1021 costs.
Hirst, who had no previous convictions, was also disqualified from keeping cats for seven years. Her other two cats will be found new homes but she was allowed to keep her pet dog.
The mother-of-two sobbed as she told the court how she adored Jessy, saying she was “really devastated” by the cat’s demise.
Hirst said it had been booked in at the vet’s for de-matting but it went missing. When it returned she picked it up and some maggots fell off.
“I just panicked and called the vet’s and they said bring her straight in. I asked if they could do anything to save her and they said she was a very old little lady and it was better to put her to sleep.
“She was a cat that never wanted to be in. She would go off wandering for days,” said Hirst, a sales representative for a heating fuel company.
Probation officer Jerry Starnes told the court: “She says she took steps to make veterinary arrangements but the cat was never in the property at the time of the appointments.
“She says there are no issues with the other pets and she would be devastated if she couldn’t keep any animals.”
The court heard that Hirst lived with her teenage sons and their father was in Australia. She suffered a stroke four years ago and was having treatment for high blood pressure.