Crazy Cat Lady!


5 minute read

April 27, 2011

If you didn’t see the following article in yesterday’s Toronto Star, then I implore you to read it now.

We make so many references to the proverbial “crazy cat lady” in our society, but rarely do we ever actually see it.

So the next time you tell your friend Plain Jane that she’d better get out and start dating again or she’s going to grow old and get cats – show her this article!

Nicki Thomas
The Toronto Star

Police have charged a 63-year-old woman with cruelty to animals after more than 50 cats were found roaming inside her home near Mt. Pleasant Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. on Monday.

The OSPCA seized the cats one day after a pollster going door to door called police over the odour emanating from the Manor Rd. home. Neighbours, who had complained for years about the state of the house, watched as emergency crews broke down the back door when the homeowner didn’t answer. Inside, firefighters found that the urine and feces causing the stench had also buckled the floorboards.

The two-storey brick house, still surrounded by yellow police tape Monday evening, is no longer habitable, said an officer on the scene.

The homeowner, identified by neighbours as Diane Way, is reportedly staying with a friend and could not be reached for comment. Property records show that Way purchased the home in 1993 with a man neighbours say was her former husband. She took sole possession in 2004.

OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross said veterinarians are examining the cats, which are suffering from eye and respiratory problems. She said the investigation is ongoing and Way could be charged under the provincial animal welfare act as well as criminally.

Police have also charged Way with causing or permitting unnecessary suffering to animals. She will make her first court appearance in June.

Neighbours on both sides of Way’s home said they’ve been trying for years to get city officials to address the stench, which grows so putrid in the summer that they can’t go into their yards.

Peter Murphy and his wife, Eduarda Sousa, said they have tried all avenues, calling animal services, public health, municipal licensing and standards and their former councillor, Michael Walker. They were repeatedly told that no one could enter the house without the homeowner’s permission.

“It breaks my heart to know that I was living next door to cats which were suffering,” said Sousa. “But the house, you can see it from the outside, you can smell it from the outside. . . . Here’s a woman who obviously needed help and every attempt to get something done was ignored.”

The area’s new councillor, Josh Matlow, said he’s been making calls to “everyone imaginable” since the seizure.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s a very good system in place to be able to enter homes where there is reasonable suspicion of cat hoarding and rescue the cats and ensure that the neighbors are respected,” he said. “We hear a lot at city hall about how things need to change but this is a substantive matter that needs to be addressed by city hall and perhaps other levels of government.”

Lots going on here!

First of all, let’s laugh about this.  Can we?  Is that wrong?

I think if you put a number to it, you’d probably hear one “crazy cat lady” reference per week if you really listened hard enough for it.

There’s something synonymous about “crazy old ladies” and “cats,” so much so that we’ve taken to teasing our single female friends about growing old and getting cats.

For those of  your that grew up with The Simpsons, you might remember this:

This was the crazy cat woman who actually THREW cats at people!

Like I said – can we laugh about it?  A little bit?  The fact that we actually know of this happening instead of just making obscure societal references to it has to make you at least smirk.  Right?

Okay, so a lot of sad cats were treated poorly.  I get it.

But at the risk of being insensitive, I think the real victims here are the neighbours.

The article touches on a subject that I’ve long wanted to discuss on my blog, and that is: what do you do when you know that somebody next to you or on your street is doing something illegal, but the laws in place make it impossible for the powers-that-be to do anything about it?

Case in point, I have a friend, who has a friend, who has a friend.  This guy, who is really good looking and has his own blog, lives next door to a girl who is running a marijuana grow-operation in her home.

For the longest time, nothing could be done.

And when something finally was done, and the police were involved, they did nothing.  Call it swift justice if you want, but the drug squad and CSI decided that charges would never stick and/or wouldn’t be worth pursuing.

The friend of a friend of a friend is now certain that the constant noise coming from her home is that of the methamphetamine lab being constructed…

The residents of Manor Road have been held hostage in their homes by the foul smells originating in this crazy cat woman’s home for the last few years.

They were completely helpless, and as the article explains, their countless pleas for help were rebuffed by authorities.

“Rules” prohibit unlawful entry to a residence, and just like the Landlord and Tenant Act which goes out of its way to proect the “rights” of tenants, above all rational and reasonable expectations, some of our municipal and federal laws make it impossible for police to enter a home because residents suspect that 50 cats are literally pissing and crapping through the floors.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to be in a society where totalitarianism prevails and police can shoot first and ask questions later, but clearly the measures weren’t in place to effectively “rescue” the residents of Manor Road from this senile old woman who was interferring with their quiet enjoyment.

These residents are tax-payers, and they are hard-working people who shouldn’t have to keep their kids inside from June to September because the 40-degree heat mixed with the 50 cats and their lack of potty-training results in a scent so vile that you’d rather sit inside on a beautiful, sunny day.

I can’t think of a more basic human right than “fresh air,” and yet it was taken away from these people.

I’d like to think that if you were to call the police “on your neighbour,” that they would show up and investigate your complaint.  Just from standing on the front porch alone with the door propped open five inches, a police officer should be able to deduce what is going on, and then escalate this to the next level.

Otherwise, what are we paying taxes for?  What is our government doing?  Why are we working so hard and so many hours to buy houses in nice are and have this happen on our watch?

Maybe I’m just being an ass.  I don’t know.

But how does this thing go unchecked for so long?

This house will likely need to be torn down and rebuilt, and it will always have a stigma.

But even the house around the corner on Balloil Street that was the scene of a brutal, homicidal lover’s quarrel a couple years back was sold, and eventually renovated and flipped!

So what’s a measley 50 cats in the grand scheme of things, right?

Well, I suppose it could always be worse.

It could be more than “just” 50 cats…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Kristin

    at 10:32 am

    Just to share a link for those of your readers who may have a fastination with Cat Ladies. This was an official selection from HotDocs 2009

  2. Ralph Cramdown

    at 11:19 pm

    The neighbours should have sued under the tort of nuisance.

  3. George

    at 1:13 am

    The problem with freedom is that people are free to be stupid too.

    Neighbours…they’re the worst.

  4. buk

    at 1:37 am

    probably smells better than the slaughterhouse at wellington and niagara!

  5. Jamie

    at 9:44 am

    I’m a little confused… what changed to make the police actually check it out? If the neighbours had been complaining for years with no result, how did the pollster get such a prompt response?

    1. Josie

      at 2:06 pm

      The complainant was totally unrelated to the issue – just a random individual who happened to see this and depending on how the neighbours complaint was told to whoever they were complaining to theirs might have been pooh poohed and not taken seriously – just looked as a crabby neighbour. There are tons of those out there too.

  6. Yvonne

    at 10:52 pm

    Crazy Cat Lady, I just read your post and it was really interesting to see the reality of the “crazy cat lady” stereotype. It’s sad to see so many cats suffering and the lack of action taken by city officials. I think it’s important to remember that hoarding is a serious issue and those affected by it may need help and support. But, as you mentioned, the real victims here are the neighbours who had to deal with the stench for years and were ignored by officials. It’s a reminder for us to be more aware of our surroundings and to speak up when something seems off.

    Your readers might wanna check out as well.

    Kind regards,

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