Police in Malaysia have rescued 46 neglected cats from an apartment in Kuala Lumpur following a complaint by animal rights activists.

The 41-year-old man was said to be using his Facebook account to ask for financial help from people, reportedly to buy cat food and also for the treatment of his sick cats.

It was suspected that the unemployed man had exploited the cats to make money, said Mohd Rosli Mohd Ariffin, the chairman of Sahabat Kucing Jalanan, an organisation that rescues and treats sick or abandoned cats on the streets.

Rosli lodged a police report at the Sentul Police Station. He and his friends along with the police went to the man's house and found the cats locked up in cages in several rooms.

"It is very sad to see the cats being locked in small cages in the kitchen and that the cats were not looked after at all. Almost all the cats were infected with 'sporo' and were sick," he said, according to South China Morning Post.

Sporotrichosis or sporo is a type of fungal infection, Rosli added.

The owner of the cats is said to have uploaded multiple statuses and videos of his cats for several months on Facebook, appealing for financial help.

A Facebook user who had also suspected the man's activities stated that the man was a fraud and had 23 Facebook accounts. He was using these accounts to 'sell' sad stories about his cats.

It took about 15 minutes for the police to persuade the man to surrender the cats.

The man told the police that he loved all his cats, but had no time to clean the house since his mother died in April 2016.

"My house is small...I have no other place to keep the cats. I did not abuse them, it's just that I could not afford to provide treatment for the sick cats as I have no money," he said, adding that this made him depend on public contributions to maintain the cats.

His neighbours had earlier lodged complaints with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall about the unpleasant smell coming from the house.

Few of the rescued cats have temporarily been placed at a shop that provides 'cat hotel' services, said Datuk Leen Mustafa, a member of Kelab Pencinta Kucing Malaysia, according to South China Morning Post.

Members of the Sahabat Kucing Jalanan are now seeking assistance to treat the sick cats.