The city of Toronto has a limit on the number of cats you can own. That number is 6–more than some people could ever imagine having. But for one woman suffering from a severe hoarding mental disorder, her home had quite a higher number. Authorities discovered 300 cats living in her 18th floor apartment!
Neighbors had been complaining about the smell of cats for the past 7 years, but no one imagined a hoard this size.
When the Toronto Animal Services (TAS) were called in, they knew they’d need as much help as they could get. One of the rescues that they work with daily is Toronto Cat Rescue (TCR). Belinda Vandersluis, the Executive Director of TCR, explains their partnership and how they help the Toronto felines.
We work with them every day to take cats from their shelters that are not doing well at the shelter, have medical or behavioural issues or otherwise unadoptable. We take all those cats.
TCR rescues and adopts out about 2,800 cats each year. And regularly have between 200-300 cats in our programs at any one time.
Their first guesses put the number of cats around 70, and even that is an overwhelming number. The TAS enforcement officers and TCR staff and volunteers showed up on Saturday May 4th. By the end of the day, their original estimate was put to shame as 300 cats were counted in the home.
About a dozen people were at the crowded apartment, evaluating and removing the cats. There were another dozen volunteers driving cats to foster homes and to veterinary clinics. But for the Toronto Cat Rescue team, they have a wonderfully large foster program.
We have over 1100 volunteers, and 400 foster homes in the Greater Toronto Area as well as the Kitchener Waterloo area. Our unique structure allows us to mobilize quickly in these urgent situations.
The TCR organization ended up taking 70 of the felines from the hoard into their program.
With 300 cats living in a crowded apartment though, they were surprised at the overall health of the animals.
Sadly, there were a few deceased cats found in the apartment. But the majority of the [surviving] cats were in surprisingly good shape. No fleas or parasites or major illness were discovered.
There were some dehydrated cats that needed veterinary care right away. And a number of pregnant Queen’s who are now delivering.
With pregnant cats that are undernourished or very young sometimes the litters do not fair very well compared to cats that are well cared for. We’ll see how it goes as the litters arrive.
The 300 cats seemed to range in their ages, but many looked to be young. This could account for why they were in such good shape. Being born indoors, 18 floors up, there isn’t a way for them to get outside. The cats living or born on the streets must contend with outside influences and parasites. Something that these indoor felines were able to avoid.
For the cats rescued from the confined apartment, their futures seem to be bright.
The main goal for all the cats rescued is to have them eventually find forever homes. But coming from a stressful, crowded environment, they need to be socialized first. This can take months and in some cases, traumatized cats never fully recover. Fortunately, these felines seemed to be loved as well as could be, and it showed.
These cats are surprisingly social. They are fine with humans, and many are craving attention and snuggles. We won’t need to place cats in barn program. Our foster homes are amazing at socializing and caring for cats of all sorts.
The mother cats are now starting to have their babies. They will all remain in foster care until they are old enough to be fixed and adopted out.
While the woman will surely receive help for her mental disorder, hopefully she knows her cats are being well cared for.
We [TCR] are getting good reports from our foster homes. Some of the cats are shy and nervous, but many are friendly and very happy to be in a better place. We have already spayed and neutered and vaccinated many of the cats in our care. They are ready for adoption and we’re placing them in our partner pet stores.
Our average length of stay is about 7 weeks in our program, so we expect that most of these cats will be adopted by the summer.
It was less than a week after the rescue that Toronto Cat Rescue had their first adoption of one of the cats! We’re sure with these now happy and well cared for cats and kittens, there will be lots more in the upcoming weeks.
Please remember that hoarding is a serious mental disorder and sufferers need our support; not our judgement or criticism.
This is the second large cat hoarding situation [TCR] have been involved with in a month! It’s very important that this NOT continue. It’s a terrible way for cats to live. If you know that someone has too many cats, it is best to report it sooner rather than later.
Unsterilized cats breed prolifically, and with only a nine week gestation things get out of control VERY quickly. To make a report in the City of Toronto, call 311 and you will be directed to the appropriate department.
If you would like to show your support for Toronto Cat Rescue, please follow them on Facebook. Please visit their website to see how you can donate, volunteer, foster or adopt! They’re always fundraising and would love to see you at their events.
Thank you to all the volunteers and workers that helped the cats in this hoarding situation. Help educate people on the benefits of spaying and neutering!
REMEMBER: SPAY/NEUTER, FOSTER, VOLUNTEER, TNR and as always, ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!
Related Video: 40+ Cats/Kittens Rescued from Hoarding House