Fifteen cats trapped in two plastic containers in a ditch were at risk for at least four days before they were rescued Thursday.
Nine five-week-old kittens and six adult cats could not escape the duct-taped bins. Holes were drilled into the containers’ lids to provide a source of air.
Deanna Thompson, executive director of the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, said the mistreatment of the felines between Stettler and Erskine is the cruelest case of abandonment she has seen.
“It’s very distressing to know that these cats and kittens may have been out there for upwards of four days. They were urine- and feces-soaked, hungry,” Thompson said Friday.
“We’re just very thankful that the person who found them, stopped, and made the call to Saving Grace Animal Society, who then called us.
“We have reported it to the Alberta SPCA, who enforce the Animal Protection Act in Alberta and they have opened a case file to investigate.”
The cats were found in a ditch near railroad tracks close to an intersection on Highway 12.
“We were just really lucky that the weather wasn’t really cold. They surely would have froze to death otherwise.”
They were also in danger of dying from dehydration, she said.
Thompson said the kittens are very sick and are being treated for a common upper respiratory infection. The adults cats are friendly and not underweight, so at one time, they belonged to somebody.
Thompson said whoever abandoned them may have hoped that someone would see them and help them. But throwing them out like trash is wrong, she said.
“We understand that people need to rehome cats. There are animal shelters, there’s places you can go.
“It’s really difficult on animal lovers when it’s intentional harm and neglect like this. These cases really hit home and it’s unfortunate that especially cats have such low value.”
Thompson said the bigger issue is that people need to spay and neuter their cats to address overpopulation.
The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society will care for the cats while the Alberta SPCA investigates. If an owner does not come forward, the society will spay or neuter the cats and put them up for adoption.
The society has named the cats Courage, Honor, Compassion, Honesty, Kindness, Loyalty, Dignity, Respect, Generosity, Gratitude, Empathy, Tact, Excellence, Integrity and Tenacity.