April 20, 2011

CANADA: Elderly man lay dying for days in cat-filled home

VANCOUVER ISLAND, British Columbia / CTV News / News / April 20, 2011

An elderly Vancouver Island man has died after being found unconscious in a home crammed with almost 50 cats.

SPCA investigators removed 45 cats and two dead kittens from inside a home on Vancouver Island. (Duncan SPCA)

By: Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca

RCMP say the 85-year-old had been lying on the floor of his Shawnigan Lake residence for up to three days before his wife realized he was there and called 911.

Sgt. Rob Webb told ctvbc.ca that the spouse, 83, was very confused and suffers from mental health issues. She was sent to hospital for a medical examination.

Police were called in to assist after BC Ambulance attendants and the Mill Bay Volunteer Fire Department found "deplorable conditions" inside the home, including a significant amount of debris blocking doorways.

SPCA investigators removed 45 cats and two dead kittens from inside the home. Another nine cats were found wandering outside.

Webb told ctvbc.ca no emergency personnel went into the home without a respirator because of the overwhelming stench of cat urine and feces.

"The ammonia levels were off the charts," he said. "Many of our members are junior and these are some of the worst conditions many of them have ever seen."

The wife was treated in hospital, where she remains. RCMP are working with the Vancouver Island Health Authority to find the woman a temporary residence because authorities have deemed that it is unsafe for her to return home.

The man passed away in hospital Monday.

Police say they haven't located any relatives in B.C., but they have contacted next of kin in Ontario.

Marcie Moriarty, general manger of SPCA cruelty investigations, said the cats were in remarkably good condition based on the state of the home, although one may need to be put down.

She expects the majority will be eligible for adoption at various Vancouver Island shelters within a few weeks.

Moriarty said the agency believes the couple are hoarders, both of felines and household objects.

"It's a sad case of too little spay and neuter and certainly a situation that got out of control for an extremely elderly couple," she said.

© 2011 Bell Media