Animal care attendants Kimberly Berry (left) and Stephany Davidson assess one of dozens of cats on Aug. 8, 2019 that was taken into the Chilliwack SPCA from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Animal care attendants Kimberly Berry (left) and Stephany Davidson assess one of dozens of cats on Aug. 8, 2019 that was taken into the Chilliwack SPCA from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

More than 130 cats retrieved from ‘disgusting’ house in Maple Ridge

SPCA branch manager says hoarding cats is often a mental health issue

A months-long BC SPCA case is finally closed after the surrender of more than 130 cats from a 600-square-foot house.

Last April, the SPCA was dispatched to a small, one-bedroom home in Maple Ridge after neighbours complained about the smell.

“The landlord himself noticed the smell, but just though it was normal for a couple of cats,” said Christine Carey, one of the SPCA animal protection officers.

But the tenant didn’t have just a couple of cats. She had well over 100 – all of them indoor cats.

The home was filthy, according to Carey. There weren’t enough litter boxes and cat feces were everywhere – cats stepping in it and sleeping in it. There wasn’t adequate food or water. There were even dead cats and kittens in the home, according to the SPCA report.

“Disgusting” is how Carey described the home.

The building was considered a HAZMAT situation because ammonia levels were so high. Staff had to wear full protective suits and respiratory equipment to go inside.

Staff removed 136 cats from the home over six months and took them to the Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and Surrey shelters. Three of them later had kittens, for an estimated total of 150 cats.

As sad as the situation is, it’s far from uncommon. Chilliwack branch manager Chloé MacBeth said all of their large-scale animal intakes are directly linked to people with mental health issues.

“[Owners] want to save them all,” MacBeth said. “Then they can’t afford to spay or neuter one, and then all of a sudden, it’s a much bigger problem.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack SPCA looks for new homes for cats like Topanga

The SPCA deals with several large-scale animal intakes every year, but they don’t often see positive end results, like in this case.

Staff did a gradual removal from the home, taking about 10 to 20 cats each visit to help ease the owner’s shock. They also took time to help the owner understand that having just a few cats is healthier and more manageable for all involved.

The woman now has six cats, all of which have been spayed or neutered. Her file was closed in October, and the SPCA did not pursue charges because she was so compliant.

They have been back numerous times to check on her and each time, it’s been a “very positive interaction,” MacBeth said.

This is exactly the type of result the SPCA wants to see.

“We’ve been consulting with hoarding experts, and the way this file was done is actually best practice in terms of recidivism,” she said.

“It’s not a shock to their system in terms of all of a sudden they go from 150 to none. They realize the benefits of having fewer and fewer animals and that compulsion to get more isn’t there.”

It’s easy for people to get overwhelmed, she added. “We are here to help. We want to keep animals and their humans together.”

RELATED: BC SPCA to recommend charges in case involving 27 horses

RELATED: 97 rats surrendered to SPCA from B.C. home

RELATED: BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jenna.hauck@theprogress.com

@PhotoJennalism
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

From left, Kimberly Berry, Stephany Davidson and Christine Carey bring cats in to the Chilliwack SPCA on Aug. 8, 2019. The cats were some of 136 surrendered from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

From left, Kimberly Berry, Stephany Davidson and Christine Carey bring cats in to the Chilliwack SPCA on Aug. 8, 2019. The cats were some of 136 surrendered from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Over the course of six months, the SPCA took in 136 cats from one cat hoarder to the Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and Surrey shelters. Three cats later had litters of kittens while in foster care, for an estimated total of 150 cats from one cat hoarder. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Over the course of six months, the SPCA took in 136 cats from one cat hoarder to the Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and Surrey shelters. Three cats later had litters of kittens while in foster care, for an estimated total of 150 cats from one cat hoarder. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Animal care attendants Kimberly Berry (left) and Stephany Davidson assess one of dozens of cats on Aug. 8, 2019 that was taken into the Chilliwack SPCA from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Animal care attendants Kimberly Berry (left) and Stephany Davidson assess one of dozens of cats on Aug. 8, 2019 that was taken into the Chilliwack SPCA from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Kimberly Berry assess one of dozens of cats on Aug. 8, 2019 that was taken into the Chilliwack SPCA from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Kimberly Berry assess one of dozens of cats on Aug. 8, 2019 that was taken into the Chilliwack SPCA from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

It can take weeks or even months for a cat from a large-scale intake to be suitable for adoption. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

It can take weeks or even months for a cat from a large-scale intake to be suitable for adoption. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Animal care attendants Kimberly Berry (left) holds a cat steady while Stephany Davidson photographs it on Aug. 8, 2019. The cat was one of dozens that was taken into the Chilliwack SPCA from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Animal care attendants Kimberly Berry (left) holds a cat steady while Stephany Davidson photographs it on Aug. 8, 2019. The cat was one of dozens that was taken into the Chilliwack SPCA from a cat hoarder in Maple Ridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

While pharmacies across B.C. are using AstraZeneca for public immunizations for people 40 years of age and older, there is no availability currently in the Kootenays. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
No AstraZeneca vaccine availability in Kootenay pharmacies, says Interior Health

Vaccine has been opened up at pharmacies in other areas of the province to people 40 years of age and older

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok. Bulletin file
Kimberley, Golden unlikely to get mass vaccination clinics: MLA Clovechok

Kimberley has 17 active cases as of Tuesday, April 20; Golden 7

Reports of a vehicle incident along Highway 95 between Golden and Radium. (Drive BC photo)
UPDATED: Vehicle incident closes Highway 95

More details to come as DriveBC updates the situation

The Golden and District Community Foundation has announced a $5,000 crisis grant to the Golden Food Bank during COVID-19
The Golden and District Community Foundation has announced the first of their small grants for the year. File photo.
First 2021 Neighbourhood Small Grants handed out

Applications are still open for small grants

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Virtual meetings are taking a toll on local governance, according to multiple mayors in the North Okanagan. (Headway photo)
Virtual meetings leave North Okanagan politicians out of touch

More than a year of Zoom has led to a disconnect between officials, according to local mayors

Nick Trask, 36, and Ryan Ellison, 35, died in a boat collision on Osoyoos Lake in 2019. (Facebook photo)
Meth, excessive speed found as factors in 2019 Osoyoos boat crash deaths

Nick Trask, 36, and Ryan Ellison, 35, died in a boat collision on Osoyoos Lake in 2019

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
‘I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident wants the Columbia River better protected

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Most Read