A couple lived with 88 cats in their home

It took two months for the City of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the police, firefighters and Proanima animal services to overcome a colony of 88 cats in an apartment in the Saint-Edmond district. The occupants of the accommodation said goodbye to their last animals on Monday.

The Municipality was made aware of the situation on May 2. Sylvain Dubois, the owner of the building located at 8, rue Mercier, had just reported the problem of overpopulation of cats to Proanima. On July 4, he sent to the French Canada a video filmed inside the apartment. The tenants moved in last March.

We see the tenant twisting a mop. The kitchen counters are all cluttered. There are cats everywhere: on the aquarium, on the kitchen counter, in the sink. Feces litter the lids of the litter boxes and stain the walls. The floors are stained throughout. In the bedroom, at least 30 felines occupy the bed.

Sylvain Dubois, who lives in accommodation at the same address, is desperate. Worms invaded his kitchen cupboards. He has condemned his bathroom and takes a shower at work because the smell of ammonia given off by cat urine is so strong.

Never seen

He knocked on several doors for help. The response from the Administrative Housing Tribunal stunned him. “I was told not to do anything!” exclaims Mr. Dubois. If there are no complaints against the tenants, the next landlord will have them sign a lease and I will be rid of the problem. Given their solvency, he too had seen nothing but fire. “Next time, I’m going to have the tenants sign a lease so that I don’t get tricked!” he said.

Proanima and the City have requested the assistance of the police to remedy the problem. They gave the couple of tenants two statements of offense concerning the municipal by-law on the keeping of animals.

For its part, Proanima had to show great diplomacy. The organization cannot forcibly remove animals from their masters. Between May 5 and June 8, the shelter carried out four interventions to recover 62 cats with the authorization of the tenants.

“According to Proanima’s expertise, when the health of the animals is not in danger, it is preferable to proceed gradually with the withdrawal. This makes it possible to limit the impacts of the transition to the shelter,” explains Marie-Pier Gagnon, digital strategy and media relations advisor for the City of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.


The tenants stopped collaborating after the fourth intervention. A report of negligence was sent to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ), since it is responsible for applying the law on animal welfare.

“We cannot comment on specific cases under the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information,” replies the MAPAQ publicist, Mélissa Lapointe. However, I can confirm that the file is known to our inspection service and that interventions under the Animal Welfare and Safety Act have taken place in recent months.”

On July 5, the Fire Department went to check the concentration of ammonia in the air. He found nothing abnormal. An inspector from the Urban Planning Department also followed up to ensure that the housing structure was not damaged. He would have assured Sylvain Dubois that his building was not compromised.

26 cats

The tenants again agreed to collaborate on July 11. Proanima picked up the last 26 cats there, including two litters of kittens. The shelter will sterilize those that the tenants have kept free of charge.

One of the two occupants of the accommodation initially tried to deny the story. “I don’t have that many cats. For me, your allegations are false,” he said. He then confessed to not having counted the number of cats he was hosting. “We did business with Proanima, he continues. There remains the number of cats that one has the right to have in a rent.

He says he is busy washing the floors, cleaning his litter boxes and ventilating as best as possible. Sylvain Dubois is convinced that he will have to replace the floating floors and replace the bottom of the walls to eliminate all odors. Last weekend, he also had to shut off the building’s water supply because the plumbing had been clogged with litter.

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