A MAN has been jailed for four-and-a-half months for strangling his room-mate’s cat.

Radoslaw Stefaniak throttled tabby Furbie, 12, after complaining she should be put down because she was making a mess in the tiny room he shared with her owner.

Ian Fairweather returned home one evening to find his now ex-housemate covered in scratches and his beloved pet dead in Stefaniak’s arms.

The 57-year-old, of Cavendish Place, Eastbourne, told The Argus: “He was cradling the cat and crying his eyes out and saying ‘she is dead’.

“She was a beautiful cat, a fit, healthy cat, living out her last few years.

“She came before me when it came to eating – I would go without and she would have cat food.

“I wasn’t sure how she was going to take living here, it being so small, but she loved it.”

Stefaniak was jailed yesterday at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.

He had missed his trial on July 16 at Hastings Magistrates’ Court, where he was convicted in his absence of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

He moved in with Mr Fairweather, sharing one room, about ten months before the attack on November 28 last year. That evening, Stefaniak suggested the time had come to put Furbie to sleep, having previously complained about her urinating in the room.

However, Mr Fairweather had no plans to put down his pet, who he had adopted from friends about a year earlier.

He went out and returned at about 9.30pm to the awful scene.

He called the police and then the RSPCA, which prosecuted Stefaniak.

Stefaniak claimed he had thrown the cat on the floor in self-defence after she attacked him first. However, a post-mortem examination showed that the cat had bruising around her neck, consistent with strangulation. Defending, Cerys Sayer said her client, who had moved to a different address in Cavendish Place, had been “traumatised” by the incident and it was “not his intention to harm”.

As well as the jail term, Stefaniak has been banned from keeping animals for life.

Afterwards, Mr Fairweather said he did not hold a grudge against Stefaniak – he was “like a brother” to him when he moved in.

He added: “The past is the past, you know. When I see him again in the street I will still chat to him and maybe have a beer with him.

“He had to be punished for what he did. It was wrong and I loved that cat.”

RSPCA inspector Andrew Kirby said he hoped the jail sentence “sends out the message that treating an animal like this won’t be tolerated”.