Saturday, February 6, 2010

15 cats, one house -- all to themselves

Even for seasoned London Humane Society investigators, the find was a first: a house maintained only for cats.

Fifteen felines -- more than seven times the number any adult is allowed -- lived in the Huron St. house. Several of the cats were pregnant, many were feral.

The cat house was unfurnished, except for a dining room table, two end tables and a floor lamp.

Someone fed the cats daily, but no one lived there. The smell of ammonia -- caused by a mixture of cat urine and spray from male cats -- clung to the clothes of the inspectors who seized the cats.

The curtains were discoloured and the floor was gone. The cats were living on the sub-floor, soaked in urine and male spray.

"I believe it's the first house I've seen dedicated solely to cats," said inspector Chris Chew, who estimates he goes at least once a month to homes where people hoard large numbers of animals. "The house appeared to be in dire (need of) renovations and I would say it is now uninhabitable."

While the case was extreme for London, animal hoarding is on the rise, Chew said. "Hoarding is a surprisingly frequent phenomenon. I wouldn't say it happens ever day, but it's more frequent."

"We see everyone from people in low-class housing to people that are financially set," Chew added.

People who hoard animals tend to think of themselves as rescuers. Often, they can rhyme off information about all their pets -- everything from ages, to names and stories, Chew said..." More