The owners of a grey tabby cat, spotted looking skeletal and gunky with mucus, have avoided a prison sentence after the animal had to be put to sleep.

Allison Sarah Partridge, 50, and Lee Stephen Partridge, 49, both of Meyrick Street, Pembroke Dock, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a cat when they appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates on Tuesday, July 10.

They admitted failing to investigate and address the cause of Frankie the cat’s poor condition and ill health, between February 20 and April 17, when they lived in North Street, Pembroke Dock.

Jon Tarrant, prosecuting, told the court that a neighbour, who had known Frankie since he was a kitten, spotted him in the window of the home, and described him as looking like a skeleton, hunched over with whiskers gunky with mucus.

RSPCA officer Keith Hogben found four year-old Frankie in a thin condition, riddled with fleas and with a matted coat when he visited the house.

Mr Tarrant said: “At first he thought he was an elderly cat because of his condition. The inside of the house smelt of ammonia, but there were bowls of food and water for the animals.”

The Partridges relinquished ownership and Frankie was taken to a vet who estimated it would have taken at least six to eight uncomfortable weeks for him to reach such a low body score.

The bench heard that Frankie had failed to respond to treatment and had to be euthanised while in the care of the RSPCA.

Mr Tarrant added that Frankie would have been subjected to ‘prolonged neglect’ and there had been a ‘high level of suffering’.

Mike Kelleher, defending, told magistrates that Frankie had been unable to receive the usual vaccinations when he was rescued as a young kitten, which led to him suffering from chronic cat flu.

“He was taken to the vet when he was younger about these symptoms and there were told that this was chronic and was going to continue.

“Frankie suffered with this throughout this life and unfortunately Mr and Mrs Partridge got used to it. The cat would get ill and then recover, every time except this.

“They accept they should have taken him to the vet, but they were worried they would not see him again.”

Mr Kelleher added that there was ample food and water available in the house, and Frankie was eating despite being underweight.

He told the court the Partridges, who had no previous convictions, were genuinely remorseful for what had happened, and the family also owned 12 other cats, two dogs, eight guinea pigs and two hamsters, who were in good condition.

The pair were each sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, with 150 hours of unpaid work.

They were both also ordered to each pay £389.50 in costs, vets fees and a surcharge.

Magistrates decided to allow the couple to keep their other animals, after Inspector Hogben confirmed that the other animals appeared well looked after, but advised them to consider reducing their numbers.

Speaking after the hearing, RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “I found this poor cat to be in an appalling, miserable condition. Frankie had the appearance of an 18-year-old cat, despite being only three of four.

“The smell at the property was overpowering and it was very quickly clear to me that something wasn’t right.

“Sadly, neither defendant did anything about their cat’s condition - despite an obvious need for veterinary care and help. These problems ultimately cost Frankie’s life, but I feel this situation could have been avoided with a timely visit to the vets.

“This case is another important reminder as to the importance of taking unwell pets to the vet. Owning an animal is a privilege, and people have clear responsibilities towards their animals which, in the case of Frankie, were not met by the owners.”