Animal welfare officers have seized 120 cats from a home in Winnipeg.
Dr. Colleen Marion of Manitoba’s Office of the Chief Veterinarian says the felines were confined and in distress.
She also says rescue workers had to deal with a hostile resident and an overwhelming odour from inside.
Marion believes the owner had the best intentions but said it’s likely the owner was dealing with mental issues.
The cats were living in crowded rooms in the home and in unsanitary conditions. Marion says the cats had food but not enough and many cats were not well.
Staff and police officers were seen choking and gagging after being in the home, said neighbours.
Police have charged a woman with uttering threats towards the rescue workers.
Officials received complaints from residents recently that there were too many cats but neighbours say they had no idea there were that many in the house.
“I knew she had cats but 120? No way!” said a man seen coming from the home Friday. He didn’t want to give his name but said he was a friend of the woman who lived there.
Marion said there were adult cats and kittens in the home.
“If these animals had been left in the environment that they’re been in, in these unsanitary conditions, with time it would have significantly impaired their health and well-being,” said Marion.
The vet says there have been other cases of animal hoarding. A Gull Lake man currently faces jail time for hoarding and mistreating 64 dogs.
Psychologist Richard Shore says jail is not the answer. Hoarders need help, not punishment, he said.
“It often comes from a history of where there is trauma, animal hoarding, especially because it’s a live animal that’s being abused,” he said.
So far none of the cats has had to be euthanized. Vets are also checking to see if any of the cats have identification, in case they have an owner to go home to.
Lynne Scott, the owner of Craig Street Cats, a local rescue, says for years area residents have called her saying their cats were missing. She now wonders if they ended up in the home.
Scott hopes they’ll be returned to their rightful owners.