This bengal UK cat breeder, Elizabeth Richmond-Watson, with a posh name, won numerous awards for her cats including the best bengal cat in the world in 2002 with Mr Marbles (TICA made the award). I believe her breeding cattery is Owlsdene Bengals. Her Bengals were featured in the Channel4/National Geographic program “Animals in the Womb – Cats”. She was a high profile and successful breeder.
And yet when the RSPCA were tipped off about the welfare of the cats in her charge, they found her unhygienic home and facilities in chaos. The cats that she had breed were suffering extreme neglect. Clutter and rubbish was all over the place. You can imagine it. There were 70 bengal cats in her possession. Sixty-four were confiscated. Three were euthanised on the spot while another four were euthanised later. Many were suffering from eye infections and flu.
Richmond-Watson had been breeding bengal cats for more than fourteen years. In her defence it was said that she had been suffering from cancer and was committed to the cats. But clearly she was out of her depth and neglectful. Matters got out of control. It sounds a bit like cat hoarding coupled with greed. She should have asked for help.
She was given a suspended 12-week prison sentence and banned from keeping animals for three years. In addition she has to complete 60 hours of unpaid work and she will have to pay court costs of around £10,000 and a victim surcharge of £115.
Rachel Smith an RSPCA inspector who attended the breeding facility said:
“When we arrived there were lots and lots of cats just roaming the house and the outbuildings, which had been built for breeding in completely unhygienic conditions.
It was chaotic with clutter and rubbish and there was food lying around – a totally unsuitable environment for these cats to be living in.
Sadly, the owner was just not providing proper care for these cats, leading to some extreme neglect.
She may have had the best of intentions but the reality was the animals were suffering and we had to act to ensure there was no further suffering.”
The moral for people looking to buy a Bengal cat is: always visit the breeder’s place and ask questions. Look around. You don’t want to adopt an ill cat that buries you with huge veterinary bills. And let’s think of the cats. Buying from bad breeders encourages them and therefore creates more suffering for their neglected cats.
Better still, adopt a rescue cat from the RSPCA or any shelter. They are just as good and you’ll be doing a good turn at the same time.