By Hanna Booth
There’s been two days this month when I’ve gone into the shelter to hear we were expecting a hoarding case with 20 plus cats coming in.
I’ve seen a number of hoarding cases in my career as a shelter vet and most of them have been dismal. The cats often have severe ear mites and flea infestations, leading to skin disease. They’re usually not well socialized and often with bad dental disease and signs of inbreeding.
It’s a tough situation to deal with especially when the shelter is already at capacity and the animals aren’t good candidates for adoption.
Luckily these two stories have a happy ending (and an education message), which is why I wanted to share them in this month’s column.
After speaking with the caretakers who were surrendering the animals, it was clear both situations weren’t your typical hoarding case.
The first group of cats was simply a situation of breeding out of control. Initially, it was a family of three intact cats, but a few litters later and two years down the road, the man ended up with 26 cats.
By the time he had made the appointment to surrender the cats, he was well aware of the importance of spay/neuter. He told me he had been meaning to get them fixed, but just couldn’t get the money together. He was choosing to keep four of the cats and already had appointments at the Toronto Humane Society to get them fixed.
This man loved his cats. They were all named, well socialized and well taken care of. This was the best “hoarding” scenario I’d ever seen. All of the cats were under three years old, in good health, sweet temperaments and good looking cats to boot.
The other saving grace with this large surrender of cats was that it was during the winter when our shelters aren’t overwhelmed with litter upon litter of kittens and pregnant queens. Had this same scenario played out in the spring, summer or fall, it would be unlikely we could have found homes for all these cats.
The group of cats was split between two of Toronto Animal Services (TAS) shelters and they’re all doing well. Most have already been spayed and neutered and are ready for adoption.
The second scenario was a colony caretaker who had 25 cats dumped on her managed feral cat colony. It happens too often that when someone wants to abandon a group of cats, they choose a feral colony that has shelters and a regular food source, expecting the compassionate person who is caring for the feral cats will continue to care for the dumped cats.
As was the case for this caretaker, she went out to feed the colony one morning to find a bunch of open carriers around and dozens of new cats. She quickly realized they were social cats and decided to bring them into her home with the plan to surrender them to a shelter.
She brought in the first group of the cats to the South TAS shelter (which had just a few days earlier accepted half of the cats from the large surrender mentioned above). The woman was to come back the next day with the other 19 cats.
Luckily, the next day our Toronto Street Cats team was holding a spay/neuter clinic at the THS so I had the caretaker bring the cats in so we could assess, vaccinate, deworm and sterilize them in hopes of then placing them in rescues. Luckily, THS had some space for cats at the time so they agreed to take in all 19 cats after they’d been processed through the clinic.
So a great ending for all cats involved. And a great example of partnerships between Toronto Animal Services, Toronto Street Cats and the Toronto Humane Society to work collectively to rehome these cats.
Feature Cat of the Month
Bruno is a middle-aged, somewhat straggly looking street cat who was brought into the Toronto Animal Services South Shelter. He came in with a bad upper respiratory infection and a lot of drooling, but progressively improved during his time at the shelter. We viral tested him at the time of his neuter and he turned out to be positive for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). He’s currently on foster until we can find him a permanent home.
Here’s what his foster mom has to say about him....
“He is a major cuddle bug. He follows me all around the condo wanting to be petted and is very friendly and sweet. He even crawls under my feet and almost trips me from following me around, lol.
Overall he is an awesome cat. Very loving, playful, eats well, not too energetic, kind of lounges more then anything. He is messy and needs to be cleaned up a lot... but would be a great fit into any home.”
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in adopting Bruno.
Orange Crush, December’s FIV cat of month, has been permanently adopted by his foster family who said “we love him and let’s us sleep with him like a stuffed animal.”
Feature related websites
Hanna Booth is a shelter veterinarian with a special interest in targeted spay/neuter programs to combat pet overpopulation. Booth and her husband spent a year spaying street animals in Central America; worked as a veterinarian at the Toronto Humane Society; now works for Toronto Animal Services; is a leading member of the Toronto Feral Cat TNR Coalition; and also runs a volunteer program www.torontostreetcats.com. She lives in Roncesvalles with her husband, son, three former street cats and a revolving door of foster cats and kittens.