Animal lover Mary Cunningham-Simpson has been warned by housing bosses that she must not take in any more cats.

The 67-year-old GreenSquare tenant, of Page Close, Calne, has 16 cats, a rabbit and two goldfish in her two-bedroom house.

GreenSquare has written to her telling her not to take in any more pets because of health and safety risks.

Last month housing officers from GreenSquare, who inspected her home, said it smelled strongly of cats and was not suitable for a large number of animals.

They said contractors had refused to carry out repair work in her home due to the number of cats and litter trays, which could pose a health risk.

Miss Cunningham-Simpson, who has been a tenant for 20 years, said she had previously been told in a letter by Westlea Housing Association, which became GreenSquare, in 2008 she could keep cats.

She said: “I don’t know why it started up again. It was out of the blue.

“They couldn’t say the animals are not being looked after, because I said ‘if they’re not well I run them up to the vets’.

“According to them they were wrecking the house, they were crawling up the walls, but they just sleep most of the time.”

She can keep her existing animals but has been told not to replace them or to take in any new pets.

Many of the animals she cares for belonged to people unable to look after them or were ill-treated. She raises money to pay her animals’ vet bills by setting up stalls at annual events.

Miss Cunningham-Simpson, who struggles with health problems, including arthritis, said: “I wouldn’t be without them, they are part of my life.”

Chris Winter, head of neighbourhoods at GreenSquare, said they understood she took good care of her animals but she needed to ensure there was a safe working environment when maintenance contractors visit the property, clear of obstructions with adequate ventilation.