Hygiene officers laid baits and set traps yesterday at a flat where neighbours said the tenant was keeping 'rats as big as cats' as pets. They caught five rats in the ground-floor flat in Sai Ying Pun and found the bodies of several others. 'It was appalling,' Central and Western councillor Tai Cheuk-yin said. 'A group of rats stormed out from a hidden place when we were about to leave. Rats' droppings were everywhere and it was disgusting to walk around the flat.' The operation, which began at 10.30am, was jointly carried out by the Home Affairs Department, police and the Social Welfare Department, and assisted by the owner of the flat. Food and Environmental Hygiene Department officers put baits in drains and areas around the building at 5 Hing Hon Road. 'Our officers were shown into the unit in question and helped remove some rubbish. They also sprayed pesticide and laid traps there to catch rats,' a spokesman for the department said. According to Mr Tai, the woman tenant said the creatures had been kept by a tenant who lived in the unit before she moved in. 'Many people like to keep little animals as pets,' said the woman, who declined to be named and did not seem to mind the presence of the rats. 'What is wrong with keeping them? ... There are many rats in this world, you cannot kill them all.' Her neighbours on the upper floors complained about noise from the rats and poor hygiene. 'When evening comes, the rats come out and there are so many of them. They are very noisy. I have to close all windows and turn on my air conditioner and my hi-fi or turn the volume of my television higher to cover the noise,' a resident told Cable TV. Some residents installed nets around windows to keep the rats out of their homes.