Animal rescue

Animal rescue group finds 45 cats in Townsville home after owner hospitalized

A North Queensland animal rescue group has found 45 cats living alone in filthy conditions after their elderly owner was taken to hospital.

Volunteers from Townsville Foster and Rehoming Animals were called to a home on Sunday after a cleaner sounded the alarm.

The organisation’s director, Angela Atkinson, said it was unclear how long the animals had been left to fend for themselves.

“The whole situation was absolutely devastating,” she said.

“If you leave 45 cats in a house with no one to care for them 24/7, you’re going to end up in a situation where there’s no clean litter box and the house is in disorder. .

“The cats had scratched holes in the walls, probably because they were hungry.”

Volunteers will seek to find new homes for the cats.(Facebook: Townsville Foster and animals for adoption)

Ms Atkinson said the Townsville man had been rescuing cats for many years and most of the animals had been desexed.

“Some of them are 14, 15, 17…so he’s had them for a long time or had them as adults and given them housing,” Ms Atkinson said.

“But he is now on life support and will not be coming home.”

A group of people in blue shirts stand around a large collection of cat cages.
Despite their best efforts, the volunteers were unable to retrieve all of the cats from the property.(Facebook: Townsville Foster and animals for adoption)

Cats to adopt

The group spent hours retrieving the cats, but Ms Atkinson said many could not be caught.

“There’s probably 15 to 20 left in the places that we can’t touch, we physically can’t get close to them,” she said.

Veterinarian Dr Rilie Baker was on hand to assess, vaccinate, microchip and deworm the rescued animals.

“Among those we were able to manage well, there were a few who unfortunately suffered from quite severe dental disease,” Dr Baker said.

“Some had long-term health issues, but for the most part, fortunately, they were relatively healthy.

“I don’t know what the living conditions were like when the owner of the cats was there, but by the time we arrived it was quite distressing with large amounts of feces and urine around the place.”

Eight cats in an outdoor enclosure
Some of the rescued cats had long-term health issues, but most were relatively healthy.(Facebook: Townsville Foster and animals for adoption)

Under Townsville animal management laws, only two cats can be kept on a property less than 400 square feet.

Larger blocks can accommodate up to six cats with approval.

Animals will eventually be put up for adoption once they are more comfortable with human interaction.

“Even though most of them were really well cared for and pretty healthy, 45 cats in the type of area they were in is way too many animals for them to have good social connections and a stress-free life,” Dr. Baker said.

“I know the man has definitely done his best and saving so many cats is commendable, but there are a lot of animals trying to care for just one person.”