Friar Tuck stretched a paw across his cage as a volunteer reached for him, then purred contentedly. It’s a far cry from where he came from. He is one of 68 cats recently removed from a tiny Toronto apartment.
The job of removing all the cats was so large it involved the Etobicoke Humane Society, Burlington Humane Society, Toronto Humane Society and Ninth Life Cat Rescue.
Rebecca Gordon, a volunteer with Etobicoke Humane Society, said the first thing she noticed was the smell.
“It’s indescribable to be honest. It’s not urine, it’s not anything else – it’s a lot of things,” she said.
She said it was hard seeing the condition of the cats.
“I’ve heard of these situations before, but I never knew what to expect and it was really difficult. We knew as soon as we got in there that they just… they needed to be out of there,” said Gordon.
Veterinarians did basic triage and took care of the worst cases first.
“There were a lot of upper respiratory (issues), there were eye infections, ear infections, there were untreated fractures, which we have to get a vet to put a plate in one of the cats,” Etobicoke Humane Society volunteer director Karen Heaslip said.
“Two (or) three cats also needed to have their ears removed due to untreated ear mites.”
Adding to the workload of staff and volunteers is that several cats are pregnant.
The cats were surrendered when the former owners were evicted.
“Our main concern, the concern is the well-being of the animals,” Peter Wilson, one of the former owners, told Global News.
Wilson and his wife were convicted in 2008 of causing pain and suffering to animals. At the time, they had 50 cats and two dogs.
This time there was one dog, but she was doing so poorly that Toronto Humane Society said she had to be euthanized.
The OSPCA is currently investigating and no charges have been laid.
The humane societies and cat rescue said donations have started coming in. However, as they’re faced with so many cats, they need more financial and volunteer help.
Meanwhile, the cats are being dispersed to foster homes with hopes of one day finding forever homes.
Gordon said to see a dramatic improvement in the cats is thrilling.
“They were so affectionate and so sweet and they just wanted attention, so that’s what we gave them.”