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Reclusive woman's body eaten by her starving cats

The body of British recluse Janet Veal was "gnawed and eaten" by her starving pets after she died in her isolated Ringwood home as long as three months ago.
Woman body eaten by cats 2013 08-13Enlarge
The body of a reclusive British woman was "gnawed and eaten" by her starving cats for weeks after she died, a coroner says. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In every pet owner's worst nightmare, the body of a reclusive British woman was "gnawed and eaten" by her starving cats for weeks after she died.

Janet Veal, 56, may have been dead for as long as three months when police in Ringwood found her body on the kitchen floor.

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A number of dead cats and a dead dog were also found throughout the house.

Neighbors raised the alarm after not seeing Veal for months and watching mail pile up at her door.

Officers used a ladder to get inside the home, and found a "distressing" scene when they entered, police said during an inquest hearing into Veal's death in Southampton Coroner's Court.

The floors upstairs were covered in garbage and it was clear the rooms had not been aired out in some time, according to testimony.

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Downstairs, an officer discovered Veal's body and the numerous animal carcasses.

“This too was a distressing experience because it was clear that certain parts of Mrs Veal’s body were missing and had, the officer formed the view, effectively been gnawed and eaten away by the animals.

“One can only imagine the difficulty with the scene the officer was having to deal with," Coroner Keith Wiseman said.

Decomposition made it difficult to determine exactly what killed Veal, but medical records showed a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.