The SPCA has rescued 49 extremely sick cats "in distress" from Forgotten Felines, a B.C. animal rescue operation.

SPCA officials say three of the cats seized Wednesday were already dead, including one which vets say was on the kitchen floor for at least three days.

Forgotten Felines is a cat rescue operation run out of a Delta-area farm, which is owned by an uncle of B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen.

Volunteers who work at the facility were alarmed by the condition of the felines, and alerted the SPCA. Delta Police supervised the raid as a precaution.

"All of the cats were suffering from a variety of ailments, including dehydration," says the SPCA's Marcie Moriarity.

There were more than 200 cats living on the rented farm in the 9200-block Ladner Trunk Road.

"This is a very sad case," says Moriarity. "These cats were not receiving the dire medical attention they needed."

One kitten has died since the raid. Preliminary vet reports suggest many of the felines are emaciated and dehydrated -- many more have untreated ringworm and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

Forgotten Felines bills itself as a charity shelter that takes in abandoned or sick cats, and is funded 100 per cent by donations.

Moriarty says the raid comes after issuing several ignored warnings to shelter owner Penny March, who calls herself "the Pied Piper of felines."

"While it's admirable to take in sick cats you have to be able to provide them the medical treatment they deserve," she says.

"It's not fair to take in a cat that sick and then fail to treat it - you're just prolonging the cat's agony."

The SPCA says the van Dongen family is not involved with the shelter, but the Solicitor General's uncle has had a troubled history with the organization - including a lengthy court battle over the seizure of several horses from his Abbotsford farm.