View Full Version : Bertha Rand, Winnipeg's Cat Lady

01-12-2020, 12:24 PM
I never met Bertha but everyone in Winnipeg knew who she was. At the link there is a video of a CBC reporter talking with Bertha.


Cat lover once jailed over the amount of cats in her homeCBC News <time class="timeStamp" datetime="2015-10-10T00:57:06.299Z">Posted: Oct 09, 2015 6:00 PM CT | Last Updated: October 9, 2015


From the CBC archives: Winnipeg cat lady Bertha Rand chats with the CBC about the new bylaw coming into effect, and what she will do with all her pets 2:28<figure class="imageMedia image medium">https://i.cbc.ca/1.3265146.1444416380!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/bertha-rand-cat.jpg
<figcaption class="image-caption">One of Bertha Rand's many felines (CBC)</figcaption></figure>Fifty years ago today we were invited into Bertha Rand's cat-filled home on Queen Street in St. James.
For years, she battled her neighbours and city hall to save her dozens of cats. Quite outspoken, Bertha criticized the bylaw that was coming into effect limiting the number of cats allowed in a household. Bertha said she only had 20 cats but some thought she had close to 50.
Jailed briefly in 1967 for balking at the bylaw, she still refused to surrender her collection of cats. Eventually, the city gave up trying and neighbours continued to endure the presence of Rand's pets as well as the strays that came around for handouts.
<section id="inread-wrapper-id-12"></section> Bertha died in hospital, Dec. 31, 1981 at the age of 86. After her death, her nephew rounded up the pet cats and found homes for the healthy ones in Balmoral, Man.
Even years after her death, she still holds a place in Canadian popular culture. <figure class="imageMedia image full">https://i.cbc.ca/1.3265153.1444416478!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/bertha-rand.jpg
<figcaption class="image-caption">Bertha Rand talks with the CBC about her many cats. (CBC)</figcaption></figure>

01-12-2020, 04:05 PM
I can see that there are mixed feelings about having a large number of cats in one's home. There is no way that there wasn't any smell, unless Bertha had a staff of people in her house cleaning all day long, and how did she feed all of them adequately, and how was she providing veterinary care for them?
I'm sure that she loved all her kitties, but this law is designed to protect animals and people alike.
I enjoyed watching the interview, especially when one of the cats climbed the interviewer.
Thanks, Candace, for posting this.

We have a client who used to have so many cats that they dedicated the house they lived in to the cats, and they moved into the house right beside it. They would bring cats to the hospital they hadn't seen in years because they hid somewhere in the house.
Those people tried to do right by the cats, but there were so many that not all them received the care they needed. This was always really upsetting to me.
They are down to 3 cats now.

The most cats I had at one time was 6. Many years ago, one of the veterinarians I'm working with called me a hoarder. I know that he was joking, but I still remind him of that every now and then, also jokingly of course.;)

01-12-2020, 05:28 PM
Thanks for sharing this, Candace. These kinds of stories break my heart.

Bless this dear woman for doing all she did and for trying to help, but at the same time what kind of environment and care and life is this for any of the cats in such situations?

Our Humane Society raided a home with a number of cats like that a few months ago. I never had the nerve to ask just what really became of all these cats they brought to the shelter.

So many more cats that need loving homes than there are the homes for them.


01-13-2020, 09:02 PM
In 1965 in Manitoba, Canada, hoarding of any kind got little attention. There were no TV shows about it; Bertha was seen as an anomaly and feisty at that, so in an odd way she was a bit of a hero and even admired.

Have a read of this short article: http://archive.macleans.ca/article/1966/1/22/why-the-mice-are-playing-in-st-james

It was written as the bylaw was about to be debated and amended. A number of neighbours were naturally upset about all the cats and kittens. The actions several of them took were beyond reprehensible.

If only a shelter had been built in St. James in Winnipeg.

01-14-2020, 07:09 AM
If this article is about what people did to the cats, I won't read it.:( Sorry!

01-14-2020, 11:35 AM
If this article is about what people did to the cats, I won't read it.:( Sorry!

The whole article isn't about that, Heidi.

In any case, her nephew did find homes for the healthy ones after her death. I hope the others were taken to the Humane Society.

01-14-2020, 05:45 PM
I also don't want to read anything the least bit descriptive about any "beyond reprehensible" actions those alleged-humans did to the cats. Breaks my heart just learning of such things going on, without getting any details.

Back in 1965 animal-hoarding of any kind got next to no attention here, either. Animals were property, period, in the eyes of the law.

I'm glad the nephew found homes for the healthy cats, and I also hope the others were taken to the Humane Society or whatever reputable shelter there might have been available then, I hope something or some people, anyway.