Last summer, the Montreal SPCA was called to a 4½-room apartment in the Plateau that had been suddenly vacated by an elderly tenant with health problems. When they arrived, the rescue workers were met with one of the worst cases of animal hoarding they had ever seen.
“We confiscated 90 cats, several of which were pregnant,” recalls kennel attendant Summer Geraghty.
“It was an appalling environment. The smell was so overpowering nobody could breathe.”
Though the tenant managed to feed the animals, the cats had not been given any medical care. By the time kittens were born after the rescue, their numbers soared to more than 120.
An animal hoarder differs from an abuser because his or her intention is not to exploit the animals but to help them, Geraghty explains. It begins with a few cats and inevitably spirals out of control. In an overly crowded situation, cats have to fend for themselves and see other cats being sick or dying, and all the while multiplying. “It all probably happened very quickly. We can see the family lines in the animals.”
These are cats with special needs, Geraghty says. “Some have food allergies and cost more to feed than a regular cat.
“Some are still extremely wary of people. The main thing is these are not for families with small children. Some don’t like being picked up since they’ve never been handled or gotten used to hands and affection.”
The animals are comfortable in their cages and the SPCA is sending cages home with the cats to smooth the transition into their new home.
Some of the cats are younger and not born into the terrible situation, but into human contact. Many are white with blue eyes.
According to Geraghty, 90 per cent of these cats are deaf. These animals have the greatest difficulty adapting to a new environment but manage to calm down within a week.
“We’re looking for owners who never let these cats outside because they would probably not come back, and who won’t declaw them, as that would further traumatize them.”
Several of the cats have been adopted in homes with older children and the SPCA offers continuing support.
“Adopters can email me anytime and I will get back to them,” Geraghty says. As well, having lived in an environment where food was scarce, these animals can’t be free-fed, as once they begin eating they may not know when to stop.
“We need compassionate people interested in giving a traumatized cat a chance. Most of the animals are phenomenal and affectionate and the rewards will far outweigh the challenges.”
To adopt an animal, call the SPCA, 514-735-2711.
SOS pitou minou: 450-632-0011
Vétérinaire SPA BÊTE à Granby: 450-375-3686
Hôpital Vétérinaire d’Argenson: 450-655-7773, 514-910-5412
Collège Vanier: 977-738-8700, 450-375-3686
Clinique Vétérinaire Lavaltrie: 450-586-4435
CVL: culaval.com, 514-781-1200