More than 100 cats were removed from an Edmonton-area home over the course of five weeks beginning last December.
The Alberta SPCA said 143 cats were removed from a house in the greater Edmonton area after the owner of the animals agreed to surrender the cats.
Dan Kobe, communications manager with the Alberta SPCA, said another agency contacted the SPCA after dealing with the animal owner.
The SPCA said the cats were not in distress, which is why peace officers took a “slow and steady approach” to remove the animals. The organization began taking the animals out of the house on Dec. 12, when 35 cats were surrendered.
“We prefer to work with owners whenever possible to improve conditions for animals,” said Ken Dean, director of animal protection services for the Alberta SPCA.
“This allows us to reduce the stress on the owner, our peace officers, and most importantly, on the animals.”
Over the course of five weeks, peace officers made five visits to the home, according to the SPCA.
“It is a lot of cats. The home certainly had a high ammonia smell. There were a lot of feces,” Kobe said.
“It was cluttered, but as we returned each and every time, the home actually got cleaner. The homeowner cleaned it up. The cats certainly had control of the home — they were everywhere — but it wasn’t the worst situation we’ve seen. The cats were healthy, they were well taken care of.
“They were removed slowly because the animal owner was co-operating, recognized he had too many cats in the house.”
Edmonton bylaws limit the number of cats in one household to six. Kobe said the municipality in which the cats and the owner were residing does not have a cat bylaw.
The SPCA would not release where the home is located. Kobe said the animal owner still has about seven cats in the house.
“The municipality in which he lives does not have a cat bylaw so he’s allowed to have cats. And if the cats aren’t in distress, we’re not in position to take them all,” Kobe said.
“All of the cats that he does have have been spayed or neutered, so we’re somewhat optimistic that the situation will not return.”
The cats were taken to the Edmonton Humane Society, where they were checked by a veterinarian and spayed or neutered. The SPCA said some of the cats were put up for adoption, while others were sent to three other agencies — Kirby Safe Team, Alberta Animal Services and WHARF Rescue — to be rehomed. Anyone looking to adopt one of the animals from Alberta Animal Services is asked to check out the rescue group Companion Animal Outreach Society.
“We’re grateful we could support the Alberta SPCA with this case by providing the cats with the care they needed as well as their spay and neuter surgeries, giving them the opportunity at a new life while preventing further pet overpopulation,” said Liza Sunley, CEO of the Edmonton Humane Society.
The cost of vet care and boarding for the cats is expected to exceed $25,000, according to the SPCA.
The SPCA said situations like this are not unusual; in 2019, the organization investigated 10 files that involved 20 or more cats in one home.
The SPCA said Alberta “continues to have a cat overpopulation problem.” The agency hopes this will serve as a reminder to pet owners of the importance of spaying and neutering their animals.
“Often when people get this many cats, they are taking cats in for other people who do not want their cats. They want to find a place for them, and shelters are always full so it’s hard to surrender them to shelters,” Kobe said.
“But if you don’t have them spayed or neutered, they can go from 10 to 20 to 143 in an awful hurry.”
Kobe said because the animals were in good health and the homeowner co-operated with peace officers, charges will not be laid under the Animal Protection Act.