Couple Had 159 Cats in Small Apartment

Court in Nice, France, bans them from having pets for life
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2024 8:59 AM CDT
Couple Who Kept 159 Cats Banned From Having Pets
A group of cats unrelated to the Nice case.   (Getty Images/subjob)

A French couple found to have been keeping 159 cats and seven dogs in their small Nice apartment have received a lifetime ban from having pets. Police arrived at the apartment last year to intervene in a neighborhood dispute and discovered the animals, and their poop, spread around the 861-square-foot space, the BBC reports. At least two cats and two dogs were found dead in a bathroom. Police said some of the animals died later due to poor health. Many were dehydrated, malnourished, and infected with parasites.

The man, 52, and the woman, 68, had been investigated in 2014 for keeping 13 cats and a dog in a smaller, 194-square-foot studio apartment. After last year's discovery, the woman was diagnosed with Noah's syndrome, also known as animal hoarding disorder, a psychiatric condition in which patients compulsively collect animals, even those they can't properly care for. She said the animals were "the love of her life" but she'd "screwed up." She reportedly took in her parents' three cats and three dogs in 2018 before taking in 30 cats living in an abandoned building. The cats then reproduced.

Prosecutors requested an 18-month prison sentence. The Nice Criminal Court judge, who found the couple "guilty of the offense of abandonment," instead issued a one-year suspended sentence and a permanent ban on the couple keeping pets. They were also ordered to pay more than $162,000 in damages to animal welfare groups. The woman was not pleased. "Who wouldn't appeal against an injustice like this?" she said, per the Independent. "It's like telling a woman she won't have any more children." (More pet hoarding stories.)

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