Officers found Janet Veal's home filled with alive and dead cats (Reuters)
Officers found Janet Veal\'s home filled with live and dead cats(Reuters)

A woman was eaten by her own cats as her dead body lay undiscovered for weeks at her home in Hampshire.

Janet Veal, 56, was found in the kitchen of her home in Ringwood on 4 April after worried neighbours called the police. She had not been seen for several weeks.

Officers discovered parts of 56-year-old's body had been "gnawed and eaten" by her pets, possibly because they had not been fed for months.

It is believed Veal had died from natural causes after suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Her husband is thought to have left her a year before she died.

The inquest into her death at Southampton Coroner's Court heard how PC Dave Ivey discovered Veal's body as well as a number of dead cats and dogs.

Coroner Keith Wiseman said: "These animals had been, the officer thought, confined in these two rooms downstairs for what may well have been a period of many weeks, stretching quite possibly into several months.

"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."

The inquest revealed a post-mortem into the cause of death proved "extremely difficult" due to the amount of time that had passed before police made the discovery.

After returning a natural death ruling at the inquest, Wiseman added: "There is no indication otherwise and no suggestion, if I can go to the complete extreme, any suggestion that she had been in any way attacked by the animals while she was alive.

"I am prepared to find on the balance of probabilities this was sadly a natural death that led to really very untoward consequences, because of the inability of Mrs Veal to get any assistance for herself, and to be confined in the way that she was in this property with a number of animals that had not been fed for quite a long period of time."