An overcrowded cat tale

Terry Roberts
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Shea Heights property swarming with felines; SPCA describes situation as difficult

The old wooden house with white clapboard and blue trim looks rather picturesque in the morning light. The bungalow is something of a throwback to an earlier era, with a rickety picket fence running along the property line and a droke of trees in the background.

It's rather idyllic - except for the 21 cats mingling around the front door.

This was the unusual scene Tuesday morning at 60 Blackhead Cres. in Shea Heights.

Taking shelter

The old wooden house with white clapboard and blue trim looks rather picturesque in the morning light. The bungalow is something of a throwback to an earlier era, with a rickety picket fence running along the property line and a droke of trees in the background.

It's rather idyllic - except for the 21 cats mingling around the front door.

This was the unusual scene Tuesday morning at 60 Blackhead Cres. in Shea Heights.

Taking shelter

Up to five cats were huddled together between the doorjambs of the main entrance, seemingly taking shelter from the chilly morning air; others were mingling at the base of a nearby tree; and another group paced back and forth along the fence, resting at times atop the garbage box.

Some scatter when a stranger approaches the property, while others cautiously move forward, perhaps hoping for a meal. The animals appeared to be in good health, and could be seen frolicking in the driveway.

Colony of cats

The home is obviously occupied, but no one responded to repeated knocks on the flimsy door.

A neighbour said the older woman who lives in the house has taken care of a colony of cats for many years. She estimates the total number of felines at close to 40.

She said the homeowner is not married and has no children. She said two others - an older man and woman - also live in the small house.

Officials from the city's humane services division, in response to a complaint, visited the property Tuesday afternoon and left food, blankets and several small shelters for the cats.

Supervisor Cindy McGrath said a team will visit the property again today in the hopes of convincing the homeowner to give up the colony.

"Our goal is to help the homeowner with this situation. Sometimes people get in over their heads. We are here to assist," McGrath said.

There is no law that limits the number of cats a person may own, but there are laws against allowing an animal to roam freely. Owners are also expected to provide their pets with adequate shelter. McGrath said the cats were outside in the cold.

The neighbour, who asked not to be named, said she's never had a problem with the cats, or the homeowner.

"She's a good neighbour," the woman said.

But another area resident stopped and commended the humane services officers for investigating the complaint.

It's a familiar story to Debbie Powers, executive director with the SPCA of St. John's.

Powers has visited the property several times over the years, and describes it as a "very difficult situation." She said the homeowner is not usually very welcoming to anyone asking questions about the cats.

Powers said if there are 40 cats there now, expect the number to grow to 60 by this spring. She said cats are prolific breeders.

"It creates a terrible problem with people who have to live around there with screaming, stinking tomcats," Powers said.

She said it also increases the potential for disease.

Blackhead Crescent is a low-density residential area with about a dozen homes. Only one other house is visible from the property, and it's believed to be owned by a relative of the homeowner.

It's a popular destination for people who want to discard their cats and dogs, and Powers believes this is adding to the problem on Blackhead Crescent.

"I hate seeing it, but I can't tell her how many cats she can have. I can tell her she's irresponsible, but I don't think she set out to be deliberately irresponsible. These things have accumulated and been pushed upon her," Powers said.

So how would you remove such a large colony of cats? And what becomes of the cats once they're caught?

Live traps are an option, but cats are smart. It only works four or five times before the rest catch on. So rounding up such a large number won't be easy.

Those that are caught don't have much of a future, Powers said.

"Normally and sadly, because they are so wild, and our cat population is so explosive, we bring them straight to the vet to be euthanized."

Powers said the SPCA took in 1,000 cats over a 10-month period last year; half were adopted and the remainder were euthanized.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Shea Heights, St. John's

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  • OliverAlert
    September 11, 2010 - 15:01

    Just in case of an emergency for all of you animal lovers, there is a site called OliverAlert.com for people who have lost or found a beloved pet. They have special advice and best practices for cat and use FB to send out "Oliver Alerts"...I hope this helps. http://www.OliverAlert.com

  • Mandy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    For one, as Wayne has stated, the SPCA does not have unlimited funds to just spaye and neuter animals everywhere. The SPCA relies heavily on donations from people in our city. They also hold fundraisers lets not rag on the SPCA because they acnt afford to fix 40 cats, that's about 200 per surgery which is 8000.00. Anyone have $8000.00 lying around? Also, the SPCA has ni the last year, fixed many animals, saved many animals, and placed many animals in loving foster and permanent homes. Their organization is fantastic, and they do what they can, which is a lot more than any of us do.

    Cats can live outdoors and be fine. The problem with it is that these animals are not fixed, and as feline population in NL is already massive, this will create more problems for places like the SPCA and heavenly creatures.

    This old lady who is taking care of them, is doing a good, kind hearted thing. She is caring for animals that other people are too lazy to care for. Who throws their cats away? seriously, if you don't want a pet, find someone who does. There are lots of people who love animals and are willing to provide homes.

  • Dry Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I'd rather live in the wild and risk freezing than have my life ended by a needle. Sometimes humans have an obscure idea of what being humane is.

  • Heather
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I would gladly drop off some food etc to help this wonderful lady care for these precious animals.

  • Re: Dockyard Cats
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    This story reminds me of something my brother gave me for Christmas. He sent me a calendar of The Dockyard Cats. There is a man in Halifax named Pierre Fillatreault who started a Trap/Neuter/Release Program. He captured each cat, had them neutered or spayed, and returned them to their colony. He has recently been awarded a Future Thought Leadership Scholarship from the pet recovery specialists Pet Lynx Corporation. He has been invited to attend the 2009 Summit on Urban Animal Strategies in Calgary to speak about his work with feral cats. He also has partnered with other rescuers and he is in discussion with the Halifax Regional Municipality to extend the TNR program to other feral cat colonies in the region. Pierre invites any concerned cat lovers to contact him for information on and assistance with starting at TNR program in their own neighborhood. Pierre's Alley Cat Society can be reached at zorro@eastlink.ca or by phone (902) 497-0577. All of this info is from the Calendar he prints to help The Dockyard Cats. The purpose of his clendar is to share some of the photographs that he has taken over the past years documenting the lives of the feral cats and recording the personalities of the cats who populate the dockyard. Second and more important the calendar is a fundraiser to help feral cats throughtout the region as well as the dockyardd; vet bills and food.

    This Calendar is one of the most treasured gifts that I have ever been given as it makes me feel good to know that the money used is for helping this beautiful creatures. Instead of the SPCA trying to capture and end their life, it would be better trying to make a difference in feral cats lives. Please help this woman to help those cats rather than condone what she is doing for her love of them.

  • b
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    There is not a cat or dog problem, but there certainly is a people problem. People purchase a kitten or pup to basically be a toy for their kids with no intention of maintaining or keeping the pet for as long as it lives. When the novelty wears off, the pet is either abandoned or passed off to somebody else. What is even worse, some of these people have the animals but do not spay or neuter them which exasperates the problem.

    This lady obviously cares for these stray/feral cats and is doing her best to provide what little food and comfort that she can. I do believe Debbie Powers is being a tad harsh when she states the lady is irresponsible.

    I made a home for a couple feral cats in my area. I managed to catch them while they were very young and was able to have then spayed and neutered. With help from Heavenly Creatures, I was able to find good homes for two others. All of these cats have good homes and are excellent companions to their owners.

  • Coda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    I can't agree with the comments that were written already. Debbie Powers is right in stating that the owner is irresponsible.
    I know the homeowner has best intentions to save these cats, but she also has the responsibility of ensuring the well being of these cats and the offspring and that involves neutering and spaying or even calling the SPCA for assistance.
    I am an animal lover too, I hate to be dissing the homeowner cuz I do know how she feels, but there is help out there which she should have taken advantage of.

  • Angela
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    TNR (Trap Neuter Return) is a humane solution to this woman's situation. I have been caring for feral colonies of cats for more than 20 years, and this solution DOES work and it is possible to catch all of the cats on her property although it won't happen overnight. She should have asked for help? Sadly, it seems the only help available in her area is euthanasia and I doubt that is an option that she wants to pursue, nor is it humane. It would be nice if the SPCA could help with spays/ neuters and perhaps some kind people in the community could help build a few shelters for the cats to have protection in bad weather. For more information, go to: www.alleycat.org for information on helping feral cats rather than killing them.
    Angela Miller, Halifax, NS
    www.tapacatrescue.petfinder.com

  • Terry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    I lived in the area for years. This woman does what she can for these cats. It seems to be getting a little too much for her to handle. Intervention from the SPCA is needed in this situation. These animals need shelter. It's sad to see these cats huddled together.

    I don't think publishing this story will help the situation.

  • this is sad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    I agree with Christine. Also, i think taking photos of someone's house and making the address public and writing about them is humiliating. I am guessing by the 'repeated attempts' to talk to her and her fear of losing her animals in good health printing this so called news is really emabrassing. I appreciate the ongoing situations faced by the SPCA and commend their work but this really shouldn't have been published due to public humiliation and private address and photos of private property.

  • Help the women
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    It is time the SPCA started helping animals/people in need. The best thing to do in this situation is offer to spay/neuter the animals and return to the women, who is taking care of the cats, they all appear to be in good health. The answer is not to capture them and kill them, if the spca cared about animals that is where they would spend the majority of their funds, offering low cost spay/neutering options for people who need help. It is unfortunate but most of the people who are loving and caring enough to open theirs homes to these animals, that others are dropping off, are they are not rich, they can offer these animals love, food and shelter but not much more, As a society we have to help caring loving people like this old lady and have the cats done and returned..

  • mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Leave them be....with the overcrowding in the shelters, and the inevitable needle, it's nice to see somebody is taking care of so many...good on ya!

  • Goomba
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    I love how you people say that these cats are in a bad situation, these cats look perfectly happy and healthy to me.

    Up to five cats were huddled together between the doorjambs of the main entrance, seemingly taking shelter from the chilly morning air .

    LOL, yeah either that, or waiting for the door to open to get food, which most likely happens on an hourly basis based on the healthy coats of fur on these animals. Last I checked, cats are far better at surviving in the wild then humans and most animals prefer outdoors to indoors. Are these cats harassing other citizens? Do those cats look unhappy? What does an unhappy even cat look like? These animals love their current surroundings or they wouldn't hang around - it's that simple. People just need to mind their own business. Nosy neighbors are a massive problem in this province, especially in these type of areas. Unless she's killing them and tossing the corpses in the dump, not unlike the SPCA would like to do with them, then LEAVE HER ALONE!

  • mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    God Bless the seniors for trying to hold on to their loving pets, discarded by idiots too ignorant to look after anything. It's a shame money is not readily available to have them neutered. I bet they all have their own names. I also agree that food and warmth for these cats are very important to keep them healthy.

  • Barb
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I agree the SPCA should assist with spaying and/or neutering the cats. The owner is taking care of the cats and most likely enjoys her family of felines.

  • Shea Heights Resident
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    As a Resident of Shea Heights I am VERY aware of this property and feel this is absolutely absurd! The owner of this home gets many helping hands from people in the community to help feed these cats. They are very well taken care of. Some of them look healthier than my next door neighbours cat who is treated like a baby! As for the remarks about the address and how this woman behaves towards the media, let me see... how would you react if a camera guy and some other stranger came knocking on your door asking about something that is absolutely NONE of there business?? Now, if the cats looked unhealthy, this story would have a totally different twist.
    The animals appeared to be in good health, and could be seen frolicking in the driveway. Hmmm, sounds like these cats are in great danger and so don't enjoy where they are...
    Remarks about flimsy doors and The old wooden house with white clapboard and blue trim looks rather picturesque in the morning light. The bungalow is something of a throwback to an earlier era, with a rickety picket fence running along the property line and a droke of trees in the background. SERIOUSLY! Nothing like calling someone down to the dirt! Who CARES what the person lives in! Are you there to complain about all the cats or about the shabby little house that the cats are around?? Sorry some people cannot afford fancy homes like maybe this Terry Roberts fella, but at least this person knows deep down that they are doing good by taking care of her family of cats!
    When you drive out through Blackhead towards Cape Spear you will see cats everywhere. They are wild and used to the cold. They have been out there for years. There is another little house located just before Blackhead Village where an older man used to live where there were also an extreme amount of cats and also a lot of rabbits running around his garden. Was this home ever in the media??? I think the man passed away last year and maybe all those cats that were there have turned to this new home for comfort?
    Hopefully, this story turns some heads and the person living here gets some help with these beautiful felines!!!

  • Tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Mike from NL writes: How many car wrecks were on the property?

    Zero, unlike those in either direction from her home. Where are the fines for those owners? Where is the Telegram on reporting those who are in violation of things for a change rather then worrying about well cared for animals.

  • D
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    I myself am a cat lover I have 2 and take very good care of them and they are both spaded.I agree with the spca about taking them away and putting them to sleep it's the most humane thing to do and not let them roam free in the winter looking for food and water.I am disgusted with the treatment this woman is showing to these animals and I don't feel sorry for her having no kids it's no excuse.I have no kids but by god I'm not going to have 40 cats to fill that void.There should be a law about how many animals you can have if they're not being taking care of and let's hope the spca can do something about this problem soon.

  • Cathy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    perhaps if spaying or neutering wasnt so expensive ,alot of people wouldnt be abandoning them.The only problem i see here is the cats have no shelter....maybe if the good neighbours that be would help build a little shelter for these animals.......Just a thought.

  • Willie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Theres no stray cats in my area.

    Willie Hunt
    Pouch Cove

  • Dianne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    I agree that the address should not have been published here.

    It is obvious the lady is trying to do some good, even if misguided.

    I do think this article is an important reminder of the need to neuter cats, and to support local animal organizations.

  • Christine
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I can't help but wonder what Mr Roberts was hoping to accomplish by writing this article. The lady looking after the cats is not breaking the law. She is obviously a private person. The neighbours do not seem to have issue with the situation. The cats appear to be well cared for?
    Congratulations on publishing the address of a person who is doing the best they can for animals that were once unwanted. Perhaps now other people that don't want their cats will bring them to the neighbourhood. Shame on you - where is the NEWS in this story???

  • Leave them
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    These cats are well taken care of. I see them once aweek and have never seen a problem. The problem is other people. If people were more responsible with animals the less we would need people like this lady to care for the unwanted. If anything she is doing what others have refused to do. She is supply food, water and shelter to these abandoned animals.

    The person down the road that calls to complain about everything is the one that needs to mind his own business. Not to mention clean up his own business.

    If anything the SPCA should be offering to supply vet services and supplies to this life saver, not trespassing on private property.

  • brian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    I am somewhat familiar with cat colonies. There is a large one in Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario which I frequently observe in my daily walk. People have taken ownership of this colony and assist in any way they can. The number one priority for these people / supporters is the spaying / neutering of the strays. Perhaps the local spca / humane services / vet's could focus on the needs of this lady in Shea Heights regarding sterilization of the cats. Stay is a harsh word for the Shea Heights Colony - they seem to know exactly where they are.

  • cat lover
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    This poor old soul probably don't have anyone else in her life and her colony of cats are her family? She is obviously a kind hearted woman to want to care for these cats and do not want to see them euthanized. Is there a solution to this problem rather then killing these poor animals who have been abandoned? I'm sure she feels she is doing more good than harm. It also costs the spca money to euthanize these animals. If more people were as caring towards animals as she is, this would not be a problem.
    By the look of the house she do not have the funds to look after these animals but by the looks of the cats, they are somewhat taken care of. If the spca spayed the animals or euthanized them... people are still going to drop off their unwanted pets to this area... now more than ever! I wish there was a solution!

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    How many car wrecks were on the property?

  • Wayne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I fully agree with Christine. Now the idiots out there who are not responsible enough to look after their cats have the address of the place to bring them, thereby adding to the existing situation.
    To those who think that the SPCA should be helping to neuter the cats.........where do you think that the SPCA will get the money for that? Perhaps you you send the SPCA a cheque for $200. That might be enough to pay for one operation. The SPCA operates on a shoe string budget and relies on donations. They can't subsidize anybody.
    The city and SPCA are doing the only things they can.
    The sad thing about this, is that the person looking after the cats is probably doing without things that they need in order to care for these unfortunate creatures. One of these days they will pass on to their reward in heaven and THEN the neighbours will have to deal with a bunch of cats that are NOT getting fed. THEN it will be a real problem

  • was sad but now angry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    I posted earlier as 'this is sad.' but the more i've thought about this, the more upset i feel. Now i'm not sad, i'm angry. The fact that this older lady and other older members in her house have been publically disclosed as to their address, their general ages, their house design and the fact that their house is without neighbors this arctile has really set up these vunerable seniors for abuse and theft. This full disclosure of these seniors location and who lives in that lonesome house has really taken away from their safety. I also could guess from the article's information they have no guard dog and no security systems. Anyone could rob easily rob or assult these poor seniors now. Shame for this reporting.

  • Nasty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    The Telegram and the reporter need to make a donation now to support these animals and the lady that cares for them. Think of it as punishment for poor judgment in reporting the address of a person who is not committing a crime. Now I can just imagine the lookieloos and cat haters with guns heading up to gawk and do even worse.

    Shame on you for breaching the privacy of people.

  • James
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    I wonder if she has a rodent problem?

  • Pearl
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Imagine, 1000 cats over a 10 month period were brought to the SPCA and approximately 500 had to be put to sleep.

    When will some owners take responsibility for their animals and not simply think of them as being disposable. I get so tired of reading want ads looking for a kitten/puppy for some kid's 2 year old birthday, Christmas, etc. Then kittie/puppy grows into an adult, needs to be spayed/neutured but instead gets put outside to survive on their own. What's wrong with this picture?

    That's why this caring person has ended up with abandoned cats. She cannot turn her heart away from helping them. She cannot afford to spay/neuture them but she also does not want to see them end up without anyone caring for them or at the end of a needle.

    The SPCA can only do the best they can. They operate on charity. Until we take some responsibility to lobby for better treatment of animals, harsher penalities for animal cruelty, requirement that owners have their pets spayed/neutured before they can have one, then colonies of cats such as these will happen over and over again. This is a problem all over Newfoundland.

    I have 6 beautiful cats all spayed/neutured. They did not come to me that way. They came to me abused, hungry, frostbitten, scared, etc. because of neglect. I now have a stray male (not neutured) who I found huddled by my door. I looked everywhere to find the owner(s). The animal control officer will have him put to sleep if the SPCA don't have room for him. I decided to put a shelter in my shed and he is fed daily. I'm on a pension but I am determined to save enough so that I can take him to the vet. Then I will introduce him to my animals. What would I think of myself if I did not reach a helping hand to those who cannot speak for themselves.

    Nflders are thought of to be such nice, kind hearted people. It's time that we show it towards our animals. The unconditional love you receive from your animal is twofold.

    The great Dalai Lama once said: The cmpassion and affection we show to all creatures is a measure of our spiritual health . What is happening to us?

  • shea heights lover
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    being a person who loves to visit shea heights and cape spear... this cat lady is awesome. She adds a little somethin' to talk about to that quiet area. The cats look fine, and if she knows what she's doing than i guess that's okay. There's a bare area where people park across from her house, and the area seems quiet and under control at night.. i've never heard any cats. I actually didn't believe she had any until now.

  • Rachael B
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    As an animal rescuer of most of my childhood, and all of my adult life... I can certainly see where this woman is coming from.

    For close to 30 years, we fed lost, abandoned, neglected cats that made their way through a small crawl space which led into our basement. We gave them shelter from the something horrendous weather conditions, food for their starving bellies, and comfort of knowing where to get their next meal.

    Over the many years of doing so, we had arranged to have many of these cats trapped, spayed/neutered... and THEN released. We knew that trapping most of these feral cats would lead to untimely death. RELEASE was necessary. When a cat becomes feral, the chances of domesticating it enough to have it live in the home were slim to none.
    Many times the SPCA had given us a loan of LIVE cat traps (no worries folks.. they are humane).. and the vets would give us a discount on the spays/neuters because they had compassion for our cause.

    I agree that the cost of spay/neutering should come down in price significantly to make it affordable for those who have a LOT of LOVE, but not a lot of money.

    BUT... for the safety of these cats, I truly believe that something should be done. Yes, they may look well fed and healthy from the outside.. BUT are they healthy on the inside?

    Are they infested with fleas? Mites? Tape worms? Lung worms? Heart worms?
    Have they tested positive for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), FeLV (Feline Leukemia), cat flu, or other immune suppressant illnesses? Are the females pregnant, and about to give birth to numerous newborns who will ultimately become feral?

    If most of the males are not neutered, then the risk of spreading FELINE AIDS increases dramatically. FIV (Feline AIDS) is spread sexually, and through severe cat bites. Once a cat is infected, there is no reversal.. just as in humans. Male cats who are not neutered are territorial, and will fight HARD to protect and if they feel threatened. If just ONE male cat is tested positive for FIV.. you can rest assure MANY others are the same. FIV just like HIV depletes a lifespan.

    But to get off the medical aspect of this story... what about THE WEATHER? Hundreds of cats die needlessly every winter here in St. John's... due to no shelter, freezing temperatures and starvation. Obviously, I can't give you stats, because it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to document.

    Just this fall, I rescued a cat living in an abandoned car in the middle of St. John's who tested POSITIVE for FIV. He had lacerations all over his body, double eye infections, upper-respiratory infection, frostbitten feet and ear, chipped/cracked/rotted teeth (due to lack of proper nutrition), a heart murmur... and the list goes on. I KNEW he was going to be a lot of work, and I couldn't do it alone. Through a facebook group I started, Scrappy's life was saved, thanks to kind and generous people who wanted to help this cat. He had surgeries to fix him up, many medications, and of course.. he is now NEUTERED.

    So instead of trying to point fingers here... how about we offer to help? Help to educate others about the effects of NOT spaying/neutering. Help to donate food, blankets, and cat houses? Help to raise money to provide adequate medical care to those who need it most?

    This woman has a HUGE heart... she should be commended for what she has already done, and help should be granted as a token of appreciation.

    Sorry if I pissed off anyone.

  • Belle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Nate, I could not have said it better myself.
    I understand where this lady is coming from. As a fan of no kill shelters, I see what she is doing. Maybe she wouldn't have that many cats if people did the responsible thing and didn't drop their no-longer adorable kitties on the side of a non-populated road!!! Or for that matter dropping a litter of unwanted kittens off, because you don't have guts to bring them to the shelter!!!!!

    Pet ownership is a big deal and it's really not that expensive!!! Even if you don't vacinate, at least spay or neuter them, then they are not adding to the problem!! They want some food and water, they don't ask for much and if your a pet owner you know how much you get in return!!!

    I didn't see requests for help for this lady in providing food or spay or neuters for any for this cats. People want something to complain about... same old story.....they're not happy unless they are talking about some else!!!! I wish these people would take good look in the mirror and around them to see that they are not so perfect themselves.....

    So, we should condem this woman because she has opened her heart to all these beautiful creatures!! I think not!!! We should applaud her for her kindness and generousity!! She's picking up where many have failed....they know who they are and they should hang their head in shame!! They all may not be strays and drop-offs, but that's where it started. Maybe knock on her door and ask if she needs help or drop a bag of food on the doorstep!!
    Instead of putting the cats down maybe the SPCA should help this lady spay and neuter these cats and return them to her. Vets make a fortune off those of us who use them...and their are alot of us!!! If enough Vets got together and donated some time, those animals could be fixed!!! Maybe if some Vets remembered why they got in the business of animal care they would remember it was to help the poor defenseless animals and not for how much money thar could be made!!

    Don't condem her give her a hand!

  • angus
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I think instead of takeing the cats and leaving them alone the spca should just help and descretly moniter the situation so the cats and the homeowner are undesterbed and they can then they would no for sure the cats are healthy.maybe after a little wile of helping the homeowner would answer the door and talk to you because she cares about the cats or they woudnt be there. the homeowner would trust you and maybe you would be able to give the cats shots and etc.

  • Dan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    It will probably cost about $8000 or more to spay and neuter these cats.... that's about how much the kind lady in this article should ask to cover her legal fees for when she sues the Telegram for publishing her address like that. Or at least that's one option.

    Shame on this newspaper, very unprofessional

  • Mandy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    For one, as Wayne has stated, the SPCA does not have unlimited funds to just spaye and neuter animals everywhere. The SPCA relies heavily on donations from people in our city. They also hold fundraisers lets not rag on the SPCA because they acnt afford to fix 40 cats, that's about 200 per surgery which is 8000.00. Anyone have $8000.00 lying around? Also, the SPCA has ni the last year, fixed many animals, saved many animals, and placed many animals in loving foster and permanent homes. Their organization is fantastic, and they do what they can, which is a lot more than any of us do.

    Cats can live outdoors and be fine. The problem with it is that these animals are not fixed, and as feline population in NL is already massive, this will create more problems for places like the SPCA and heavenly creatures.

    This old lady who is taking care of them, is doing a good, kind hearted thing. She is caring for animals that other people are too lazy to care for. Who throws their cats away? seriously, if you don't want a pet, find someone who does. There are lots of people who love animals and are willing to provide homes.

  • Dry Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I'd rather live in the wild and risk freezing than have my life ended by a needle. Sometimes humans have an obscure idea of what being humane is.

  • Heather
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I would gladly drop off some food etc to help this wonderful lady care for these precious animals.

  • Re: Dockyard Cats
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    This story reminds me of something my brother gave me for Christmas. He sent me a calendar of The Dockyard Cats. There is a man in Halifax named Pierre Fillatreault who started a Trap/Neuter/Release Program. He captured each cat, had them neutered or spayed, and returned them to their colony. He has recently been awarded a Future Thought Leadership Scholarship from the pet recovery specialists Pet Lynx Corporation. He has been invited to attend the 2009 Summit on Urban Animal Strategies in Calgary to speak about his work with feral cats. He also has partnered with other rescuers and he is in discussion with the Halifax Regional Municipality to extend the TNR program to other feral cat colonies in the region. Pierre invites any concerned cat lovers to contact him for information on and assistance with starting at TNR program in their own neighborhood. Pierre's Alley Cat Society can be reached at zorro@eastlink.ca or by phone (902) 497-0577. All of this info is from the Calendar he prints to help The Dockyard Cats. The purpose of his clendar is to share some of the photographs that he has taken over the past years documenting the lives of the feral cats and recording the personalities of the cats who populate the dockyard. Second and more important the calendar is a fundraiser to help feral cats throughtout the region as well as the dockyardd; vet bills and food.

    This Calendar is one of the most treasured gifts that I have ever been given as it makes me feel good to know that the money used is for helping this beautiful creatures. Instead of the SPCA trying to capture and end their life, it would be better trying to make a difference in feral cats lives. Please help this woman to help those cats rather than condone what she is doing for her love of them.

  • b
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    There is not a cat or dog problem, but there certainly is a people problem. People purchase a kitten or pup to basically be a toy for their kids with no intention of maintaining or keeping the pet for as long as it lives. When the novelty wears off, the pet is either abandoned or passed off to somebody else. What is even worse, some of these people have the animals but do not spay or neuter them which exasperates the problem.

    This lady obviously cares for these stray/feral cats and is doing her best to provide what little food and comfort that she can. I do believe Debbie Powers is being a tad harsh when she states the lady is irresponsible.

    I made a home for a couple feral cats in my area. I managed to catch them while they were very young and was able to have then spayed and neutered. With help from Heavenly Creatures, I was able to find good homes for two others. All of these cats have good homes and are excellent companions to their owners.

  • Coda
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    I can't agree with the comments that were written already. Debbie Powers is right in stating that the owner is irresponsible.
    I know the homeowner has best intentions to save these cats, but she also has the responsibility of ensuring the well being of these cats and the offspring and that involves neutering and spaying or even calling the SPCA for assistance.
    I am an animal lover too, I hate to be dissing the homeowner cuz I do know how she feels, but there is help out there which she should have taken advantage of.

  • Angela
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    TNR (Trap Neuter Return) is a humane solution to this woman's situation. I have been caring for feral colonies of cats for more than 20 years, and this solution DOES work and it is possible to catch all of the cats on her property although it won't happen overnight. She should have asked for help? Sadly, it seems the only help available in her area is euthanasia and I doubt that is an option that she wants to pursue, nor is it humane. It would be nice if the SPCA could help with spays/ neuters and perhaps some kind people in the community could help build a few shelters for the cats to have protection in bad weather. For more information, go to: www.alleycat.org for information on helping feral cats rather than killing them.
    Angela Miller, Halifax, NS
    www.tapacatrescue.petfinder.com

  • Terry
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    I lived in the area for years. This woman does what she can for these cats. It seems to be getting a little too much for her to handle. Intervention from the SPCA is needed in this situation. These animals need shelter. It's sad to see these cats huddled together.

    I don't think publishing this story will help the situation.

  • this is sad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    I agree with Christine. Also, i think taking photos of someone's house and making the address public and writing about them is humiliating. I am guessing by the 'repeated attempts' to talk to her and her fear of losing her animals in good health printing this so called news is really emabrassing. I appreciate the ongoing situations faced by the SPCA and commend their work but this really shouldn't have been published due to public humiliation and private address and photos of private property.

  • Help the women
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    It is time the SPCA started helping animals/people in need. The best thing to do in this situation is offer to spay/neuter the animals and return to the women, who is taking care of the cats, they all appear to be in good health. The answer is not to capture them and kill them, if the spca cared about animals that is where they would spend the majority of their funds, offering low cost spay/neutering options for people who need help. It is unfortunate but most of the people who are loving and caring enough to open theirs homes to these animals, that others are dropping off, are they are not rich, they can offer these animals love, food and shelter but not much more, As a society we have to help caring loving people like this old lady and have the cats done and returned..

  • mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Leave them be....with the overcrowding in the shelters, and the inevitable needle, it's nice to see somebody is taking care of so many...good on ya!

  • Goomba
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    I love how you people say that these cats are in a bad situation, these cats look perfectly happy and healthy to me.

    Up to five cats were huddled together between the doorjambs of the main entrance, seemingly taking shelter from the chilly morning air .

    LOL, yeah either that, or waiting for the door to open to get food, which most likely happens on an hourly basis based on the healthy coats of fur on these animals. Last I checked, cats are far better at surviving in the wild then humans and most animals prefer outdoors to indoors. Are these cats harassing other citizens? Do those cats look unhappy? What does an unhappy even cat look like? These animals love their current surroundings or they wouldn't hang around - it's that simple. People just need to mind their own business. Nosy neighbors are a massive problem in this province, especially in these type of areas. Unless she's killing them and tossing the corpses in the dump, not unlike the SPCA would like to do with them, then LEAVE HER ALONE!

  • mary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    God Bless the seniors for trying to hold on to their loving pets, discarded by idiots too ignorant to look after anything. It's a shame money is not readily available to have them neutered. I bet they all have their own names. I also agree that food and warmth for these cats are very important to keep them healthy.

  • Barb
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    I agree the SPCA should assist with spaying and/or neutering the cats. The owner is taking care of the cats and most likely enjoys her family of felines.

  • Shea Heights Resident
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    As a Resident of Shea Heights I am VERY aware of this property and feel this is absolutely absurd! The owner of this home gets many helping hands from people in the community to help feed these cats. They are very well taken care of. Some of them look healthier than my next door neighbours cat who is treated like a baby! As for the remarks about the address and how this woman behaves towards the media, let me see... how would you react if a camera guy and some other stranger came knocking on your door asking about something that is absolutely NONE of there business?? Now, if the cats looked unhealthy, this story would have a totally different twist.
    The animals appeared to be in good health, and could be seen frolicking in the driveway. Hmmm, sounds like these cats are in great danger and so don't enjoy where they are...
    Remarks about flimsy doors and The old wooden house with white clapboard and blue trim looks rather picturesque in the morning light. The bungalow is something of a throwback to an earlier era, with a rickety picket fence running along the property line and a droke of trees in the background. SERIOUSLY! Nothing like calling someone down to the dirt! Who CARES what the person lives in! Are you there to complain about all the cats or about the shabby little house that the cats are around?? Sorry some people cannot afford fancy homes like maybe this Terry Roberts fella, but at least this person knows deep down that they are doing good by taking care of her family of cats!
    When you drive out through Blackhead towards Cape Spear you will see cats everywhere. They are wild and used to the cold. They have been out there for years. There is another little house located just before Blackhead Village where an older man used to live where there were also an extreme amount of cats and also a lot of rabbits running around his garden. Was this home ever in the media??? I think the man passed away last year and maybe all those cats that were there have turned to this new home for comfort?
    Hopefully, this story turns some heads and the person living here gets some help with these beautiful felines!!!

  • Tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Mike from NL writes: How many car wrecks were on the property?

    Zero, unlike those in either direction from her home. Where are the fines for those owners? Where is the Telegram on reporting those who are in violation of things for a change rather then worrying about well cared for animals.

  • D
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    I myself am a cat lover I have 2 and take very good care of them and they are both spaded.I agree with the spca about taking them away and putting them to sleep it's the most humane thing to do and not let them roam free in the winter looking for food and water.I am disgusted with the treatment this woman is showing to these animals and I don't feel sorry for her having no kids it's no excuse.I have no kids but by god I'm not going to have 40 cats to fill that void.There should be a law about how many animals you can have if they're not being taking care of and let's hope the spca can do something about this problem soon.

  • Cathy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    perhaps if spaying or neutering wasnt so expensive ,alot of people wouldnt be abandoning them.The only problem i see here is the cats have no shelter....maybe if the good neighbours that be would help build a little shelter for these animals.......Just a thought.

  • Willie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Theres no stray cats in my area.

    Willie Hunt
    Pouch Cove

  • Dianne
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    I agree that the address should not have been published here.

    It is obvious the lady is trying to do some good, even if misguided.

    I do think this article is an important reminder of the need to neuter cats, and to support local animal organizations.

  • Christine
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    I can't help but wonder what Mr Roberts was hoping to accomplish by writing this article. The lady looking after the cats is not breaking the law. She is obviously a private person. The neighbours do not seem to have issue with the situation. The cats appear to be well cared for?
    Congratulations on publishing the address of a person who is doing the best they can for animals that were once unwanted. Perhaps now other people that don't want their cats will bring them to the neighbourhood. Shame on you - where is the NEWS in this story???

  • Leave them
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    These cats are well taken care of. I see them once aweek and have never seen a problem. The problem is other people. If people were more responsible with animals the less we would need people like this lady to care for the unwanted. If anything she is doing what others have refused to do. She is supply food, water and shelter to these abandoned animals.

    The person down the road that calls to complain about everything is the one that needs to mind his own business. Not to mention clean up his own business.

    If anything the SPCA should be offering to supply vet services and supplies to this life saver, not trespassing on private property.

  • brian
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    I am somewhat familiar with cat colonies. There is a large one in Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario which I frequently observe in my daily walk. People have taken ownership of this colony and assist in any way they can. The number one priority for these people / supporters is the spaying / neutering of the strays. Perhaps the local spca / humane services / vet's could focus on the needs of this lady in Shea Heights regarding sterilization of the cats. Stay is a harsh word for the Shea Heights Colony - they seem to know exactly where they are.

  • cat lover
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    This poor old soul probably don't have anyone else in her life and her colony of cats are her family? She is obviously a kind hearted woman to want to care for these cats and do not want to see them euthanized. Is there a solution to this problem rather then killing these poor animals who have been abandoned? I'm sure she feels she is doing more good than harm. It also costs the spca money to euthanize these animals. If more people were as caring towards animals as she is, this would not be a problem.
    By the look of the house she do not have the funds to look after these animals but by the looks of the cats, they are somewhat taken care of. If the spca spayed the animals or euthanized them... people are still going to drop off their unwanted pets to this area... now more than ever! I wish there was a solution!

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    How many car wrecks were on the property?

  • Wayne
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    I fully agree with Christine. Now the idiots out there who are not responsible enough to look after their cats have the address of the place to bring them, thereby adding to the existing situation.
    To those who think that the SPCA should be helping to neuter the cats.........where do you think that the SPCA will get the money for that? Perhaps you you send the SPCA a cheque for $200. That might be enough to pay for one operation. The SPCA operates on a shoe string budget and relies on donations. They can't subsidize anybody.
    The city and SPCA are doing the only things they can.
    The sad thing about this, is that the person looking after the cats is probably doing without things that they need in order to care for these unfortunate creatures. One of these days they will pass on to their reward in heaven and THEN the neighbours will have to deal with a bunch of cats that are NOT getting fed. THEN it will be a real problem

  • was sad but now angry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    I posted earlier as 'this is sad.' but the more i've thought about this, the more upset i feel. Now i'm not sad, i'm angry. The fact that this older lady and other older members in her house have been publically disclosed as to their address, their general ages, their house design and the fact that their house is without neighbors this arctile has really set up these vunerable seniors for abuse and theft. This full disclosure of these seniors location and who lives in that lonesome house has really taken away from their safety. I also could guess from the article's information they have no guard dog and no security systems. Anyone could rob easily rob or assult these poor seniors now. Shame for this reporting.

  • Nasty
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    The Telegram and the reporter need to make a donation now to support these animals and the lady that cares for them. Think of it as punishment for poor judgment in reporting the address of a person who is not committing a crime. Now I can just imagine the lookieloos and cat haters with guns heading up to gawk and do even worse.

    Shame on you for breaching the privacy of people.

  • James
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    I wonder if she has a rodent problem?

  • Pearl
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Imagine, 1000 cats over a 10 month period were brought to the SPCA and approximately 500 had to be put to sleep.

    When will some owners take responsibility for their animals and not simply think of them as being disposable. I get so tired of reading want ads looking for a kitten/puppy for some kid's 2 year old birthday, Christmas, etc. Then kittie/puppy grows into an adult, needs to be spayed/neutured but instead gets put outside to survive on their own. What's wrong with this picture?

    That's why this caring person has ended up with abandoned cats. She cannot turn her heart away from helping them. She cannot afford to spay/neuture them but she also does not want to see them end up without anyone caring for them or at the end of a needle.

    The SPCA can only do the best they can. They operate on charity. Until we take some responsibility to lobby for better treatment of animals, harsher penalities for animal cruelty, requirement that owners have their pets spayed/neutured before they can have one, then colonies of cats such as these will happen over and over again. This is a problem all over Newfoundland.

    I have 6 beautiful cats all spayed/neutured. They did not come to me that way. They came to me abused, hungry, frostbitten, scared, etc. because of neglect. I now have a stray male (not neutured) who I found huddled by my door. I looked everywhere to find the owner(s). The animal control officer will have him put to sleep if the SPCA don't have room for him. I decided to put a shelter in my shed and he is fed daily. I'm on a pension but I am determined to save enough so that I can take him to the vet. Then I will introduce him to my animals. What would I think of myself if I did not reach a helping hand to those who cannot speak for themselves.

    Nflders are thought of to be such nice, kind hearted people. It's time that we show it towards our animals. The unconditional love you receive from your animal is twofold.

    The great Dalai Lama once said: The cmpassion and affection we show to all creatures is a measure of our spiritual health . What is happening to us?

  • shea heights lover
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    being a person who loves to visit shea heights and cape spear... this cat lady is awesome. She adds a little somethin' to talk about to that quiet area. The cats look fine, and if she knows what she's doing than i guess that's okay. There's a bare area where people park across from her house, and the area seems quiet and under control at night.. i've never heard any cats. I actually didn't believe she had any until now.

  • Rachael B
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    As an animal rescuer of most of my childhood, and all of my adult life... I can certainly see where this woman is coming from.

    For close to 30 years, we fed lost, abandoned, neglected cats that made their way through a small crawl space which led into our basement. We gave them shelter from the something horrendous weather conditions, food for their starving bellies, and comfort of knowing where to get their next meal.

    Over the many years of doing so, we had arranged to have many of these cats trapped, spayed/neutered... and THEN released. We knew that trapping most of these feral cats would lead to untimely death. RELEASE was necessary. When a cat becomes feral, the chances of domesticating it enough to have it live in the home were slim to none.
    Many times the SPCA had given us a loan of LIVE cat traps (no worries folks.. they are humane).. and the vets would give us a discount on the spays/neuters because they had compassion for our cause.

    I agree that the cost of spay/neutering should come down in price significantly to make it affordable for those who have a LOT of LOVE, but not a lot of money.

    BUT... for the safety of these cats, I truly believe that something should be done. Yes, they may look well fed and healthy from the outside.. BUT are they healthy on the inside?

    Are they infested with fleas? Mites? Tape worms? Lung worms? Heart worms?
    Have they tested positive for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), FeLV (Feline Leukemia), cat flu, or other immune suppressant illnesses? Are the females pregnant, and about to give birth to numerous newborns who will ultimately become feral?

    If most of the males are not neutered, then the risk of spreading FELINE AIDS increases dramatically. FIV (Feline AIDS) is spread sexually, and through severe cat bites. Once a cat is infected, there is no reversal.. just as in humans. Male cats who are not neutered are territorial, and will fight HARD to protect and if they feel threatened. If just ONE male cat is tested positive for FIV.. you can rest assure MANY others are the same. FIV just like HIV depletes a lifespan.

    But to get off the medical aspect of this story... what about THE WEATHER? Hundreds of cats die needlessly every winter here in St. John's... due to no shelter, freezing temperatures and starvation. Obviously, I can't give you stats, because it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to document.

    Just this fall, I rescued a cat living in an abandoned car in the middle of St. John's who tested POSITIVE for FIV. He had lacerations all over his body, double eye infections, upper-respiratory infection, frostbitten feet and ear, chipped/cracked/rotted teeth (due to lack of proper nutrition), a heart murmur... and the list goes on. I KNEW he was going to be a lot of work, and I couldn't do it alone. Through a facebook group I started, Scrappy's life was saved, thanks to kind and generous people who wanted to help this cat. He had surgeries to fix him up, many medications, and of course.. he is now NEUTERED.

    So instead of trying to point fingers here... how about we offer to help? Help to educate others about the effects of NOT spaying/neutering. Help to donate food, blankets, and cat houses? Help to raise money to provide adequate medical care to those who need it most?

    This woman has a HUGE heart... she should be commended for what she has already done, and help should be granted as a token of appreciation.

    Sorry if I pissed off anyone.

  • Belle
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Nate, I could not have said it better myself.
    I understand where this lady is coming from. As a fan of no kill shelters, I see what she is doing. Maybe she wouldn't have that many cats if people did the responsible thing and didn't drop their no-longer adorable kitties on the side of a non-populated road!!! Or for that matter dropping a litter of unwanted kittens off, because you don't have guts to bring them to the shelter!!!!!

    Pet ownership is a big deal and it's really not that expensive!!! Even if you don't vacinate, at least spay or neuter them, then they are not adding to the problem!! They want some food and water, they don't ask for much and if your a pet owner you know how much you get in return!!!

    I didn't see requests for help for this lady in providing food or spay or neuters for any for this cats. People want something to complain about... same old story.....they're not happy unless they are talking about some else!!!! I wish these people would take good look in the mirror and around them to see that they are not so perfect themselves.....

    So, we should condem this woman because she has opened her heart to all these beautiful creatures!! I think not!!! We should applaud her for her kindness and generousity!! She's picking up where many have failed....they know who they are and they should hang their head in shame!! They all may not be strays and drop-offs, but that's where it started. Maybe knock on her door and ask if she needs help or drop a bag of food on the doorstep!!
    Instead of putting the cats down maybe the SPCA should help this lady spay and neuter these cats and return them to her. Vets make a fortune off those of us who use them...and their are alot of us!!! If enough Vets got together and donated some time, those animals could be fixed!!! Maybe if some Vets remembered why they got in the business of animal care they would remember it was to help the poor defenseless animals and not for how much money thar could be made!!

    Don't condem her give her a hand!

  • angus
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I think instead of takeing the cats and leaving them alone the spca should just help and descretly moniter the situation so the cats and the homeowner are undesterbed and they can then they would no for sure the cats are healthy.maybe after a little wile of helping the homeowner would answer the door and talk to you because she cares about the cats or they woudnt be there. the homeowner would trust you and maybe you would be able to give the cats shots and etc.

  • Dan
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    It will probably cost about $8000 or more to spay and neuter these cats.... that's about how much the kind lady in this article should ask to cover her legal fees for when she sues the Telegram for publishing her address like that. Or at least that's one option.

    Shame on this newspaper, very unprofessional