VIRGINIA BEACH — A veterinarian who practiced in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach faces 26 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. The charges against Dr. Claude Andre Grenier stem from a Sept. 26 incident in which 25 cats were abandoned outside the Virginia Beach offices of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

SPCA officials said the purebred cats were packed so tightly into animal carriers that one suffocated.

As of Friday, five of the cats were dead, two of them euthanized because of serious health problems. The cats, discovered in five animal carriers, had several health problems, SPCA officials said.

Dehydrated and underweight, many also had eye and severe upper-respiratory infections. Some were covered with fleas, and one was infested with maggots, SPCA officials said.

“They were a mess,” said Sharon Adams, the SPCA’s executive director. “They were dying.”

Reached Friday in Canada, Grenier said he owned the cats but denied dumping them or neglecting them. “The conditions that have been reported to you are wrong,” he said. “Certainly, I’m not guilty.”