Thirty cats and a ferret were rescued from a bungalow which was waist-high in animal faeces, a court has heard.

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The owner of the animals, Martin Jones (DOB 23/8/1958), of Yew Tree Drive, in Shirebrook, appeared at Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court today (Weds 9 Aug) to be sentenced for an offence of causing unnecessary suffering to the animals.

Magistrates handed him a lifetime disqualification order on keeping animals, an 18-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered him to pay £400 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

He pleaded guilty to the offence at a hearing on Thursday last week.

The court heard that an RSPCA inspector visited the property in Hillsway, Shirebrook, in March this year after a member of the public contacted the animal welfare charity with concerns.

RSPCA inspector Deborah Scotcher said: “Initially I looked through the window and saw what looked like an extremely messy room cluttered with furniture and general rubbish. But once we got inside, I realised that what I saw through the window was not the full story.

“There were 30 cats and a ferret living in this bungalow and they were all feral, just left to fend for themselves. It had, quite simply, become overrun with the animals. The conditions in the house were horrific – there was so much animal faeces which in some parts of the bungalow were waist-high and completely embedded in surfaces.

“There was literally nowhere else for the animals to relieve themselves and they had resorted to defecating on the tops of wardrobes and kitchen surfaces. The property was dark, damp and not fit for humans or animals to live in. It felt unreal.”

The court heard the house had belonged to Jones’s late mother and that initially Jones had put two cats in the house, but that over time they had interbred.

Inspector Scotcher said: “Jones was visiting the house and throwing food down, but he had no way of knowing whether all the animals were eating properly.

“Some of the cats were so feral that the only way we could handle them was with thick gauntlet gloves.”

The animals were removed from the house over the following three weeks. Cat traps were set and checked daily.

Each cat was examined by a vet, who had attended the property and viewed the conditions first hand. Sadly however, some of the cats were put to sleep on veterinary advice as they were suffering from feline AIDS and a variety of other health problems. Many could not to be handled and had had no human interaction or contact for the whole of their lives.

The ferret and a number of cats have since been rehomed.