Warning: This article contains details of animal abuse which some people may find distressing.

A Canterbury man has been sentenced to seven months’ home detention and disqualified from owning animals for 10 years after a cat sustained 13 fractures in “the most horrific” mistreatment over five months.

Vendetta, a white-mittened grey tabby, was a healthy cat when she entered the care of the man in March 2021, the SPCA said today in a media release.

The man lived in shared housing with his room only accessible through an external door, and he was not visited frequently by the other residents.

The housing situation meant she largely lived alone in his room.

By August that same year, a resident saw a “visibly thin” Vendetta through the window.

He said she had been lying on the ground and appeared as though she had been run over. Her mouth was open, and blood was coming from her mouth and spread across her face. Her eyes were closed and she was covered in faeces from the waist down.

The resident, concerned for Vendetta’s welfare, told the man she needed immediate vet care. The resident then drove the cat to a vet.

An examination found that the cat was seriously underweight, was unable to stand, and mostly unresponsive to sound or touch. The vet also noted that she was so cold, her body temperature did not register on the thermometer.

Vendetta also had teeth fractures, which would have required “significant force” to attain, the veterinarian said, and scalding to her skin on both of her thighs. They concluded that the cat was in hypothermic shock associated with severe dehydration, loss of body mass, oral trauma and ulcerated skin.

She was taken to the Christchurch Centre by an SPCA inspector, where she was examined further. Radiographs taken of Vendetta’s body revealed she was just 2.12kg — far lighter than the average weight of 3.6-4.5kgs for a female domestic cat. She also had a total of 13 body fractures to her ribs, forelimbs, feet, pelvis, and teeth. Some of the injuries had occurred one to two months before Vendetta was taken to the vet, while other injuries had occurred more recently.

Pain relief was provided, and Vendetta underwent recovery treatment.

However, the decision was made on August 24, 2021 for Vendetta to be euthanised due to the number and severity of her injuries.

‘Never seen so many fractures’

“I have never seen so many bone fractures in a single animal in my entire career, which included almost 15 years of emergency and critical care practice,” the veterinarian said.

“Vendetta would have experienced long-term, ongoing pain from any of these injuries left without treatment, let alone the collection of them.

“This level of pain would have been obvious to any layperson in that Vendetta would have been very reluctant to move at all and would have avoided physical contact or reacted negatively when touched.”

Her owner told the SPCA in interviews and follow-up emails that he believed he might have contributed to some of the injuries by being too rough but was unsure exactly which action caused which injury.

The man was charged with reckless ill-treatment and failing to provide treatment to an animal that was ill or injured.

He was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court today to seven months’ home detention and disqualified from owning animals for 10 years. He was also ordered to pay the SPCA reparations of $1525.00 and $500 towards the SPCA’s legal fees.

SPCA chief executive Todd Westwood called it “one of the most horrendous cases that we’ve seen in recent times”.

“Vendetta entered this man’s care as a normal, healthy cat and had the most horrific treatment which ultimately ended her life,” he said,

“Her pain and suffering could have easily been avoided and the level of cruelty and lack of care in this case is difficult to comprehend.

“We are so grateful that the resident took action by getting Vendetta to a vet clinic, where she received the urgent treatment she needed. At least we can take solace in the fact she was in the safe hands of the veterinary team and SPCA, and received loving care in her final moments.”