KUALA LUMPUR - An animal rights group in Malaysia called Tuesday for the owners of a pet-boarding business where hundreds of filthy, hungry and neglected cats were discovered to face jail.
The case marks the latest in a series of animal cruelty incidents in Malaysia, which activists say too often go unpunished.
Police broke into two locked sites run by the pet shelter just outside the capital Kuala Lumpur on Sunday and rescued about 300 cats.
Their owners had returned to claim the pets following the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday and Malaysian National Day celebrations, but found the premises abandoned.
Nine cats were found dead, while the other caged pets appeared hungry, dehydrated and sickly -- some covered in their own feces and urine -- The Star newspaper reported.
Local media reports said police had questioned two owners of the facility but no arrests have yet been reported.
The local branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) called for the operators of the business to face the maximum penalty of six months jail for animal cruelty for running what it called the "pet hotel from hell."
In a statement, it also called for the operators to "undergo psychiatric treatment and be banned from animal businesses and from owning pets for life, unless the court has been satisfied by their rehabilitation."
Veterinary Services Department head Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin was reported saying Monday that Malaysia would introduce a new law next year imposing fines of up to 100,000 ringgit ($34,000) to curb animal cruelty.
The current fine for animal cruelty is just 200 ringgit.
Abdul Aziz also said that the department would start rating clinics and other premises that take in animals, based on sanitary conditions and cleanliness.
Animal abuse cases are common in Malaysia, with critics saying culprits are rarely brought to book. Last year, activists expressed outrage over pictures of a puppy apparently being tortured appeared on micro-blogging website Twitter.