Just last week, more than 170 cats were rescued – along with the man struggling to care for them –after surviving in a dilapidated rural home for several years. After a tremendous effort on the part of animal rescuers, the cats are now safe and looking for their forever homes.
The cats were found roaming on the premises of a home in New Jersey, when the St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center was alerted to the conditions by concerned neighbors and a local rescue group, Kittens on a Mission.
The home was found to be in much worse condition than imagined, nearly in ruins and without running water or electricity.
The 80-year-old resident of the home reportedly did his best to care for the hundreds of felines on the property after his wife passed nearly two years ago. The elderly man struggled for years with the loss of his wife, unable to part with the property and the cats he loved until he finally asked for the help the cats deserved.
“It’s an unfortunate circumstance where the original caretaker had passed away a year or two ago and this gentleman was doing his best to care for the animals with food and water,” said Kathleen Schatzmann, of St. Hubert’s. According to CBS, the elderly man will not be charged in this case.
“There’s always an embarrassment factor, an issue of people judging for what has become this overwhelming number of cats on the property,” she said.
The safe removal of the 170 cats began on June 19th and has taken weeks, nearly a month, to complete. There are still some cats at large that rescuers are working to trap.
While many of the cats were covered in fleas and were underweight due to parasites, veterinarian Karen Dashfield said that luckily, the cats were all treatable. “So the major concerns we have in these big hoarding cases with large numbers of animals of diseases we can’t fix and then make the animals unadoptable. We found none of those diseases,” said Karen Dashfield, of St. Hubert’s.
This is the largest rescue St. Hubert’s has taken on in its 80-year history. They had to convert dog kennels and pods into areas for the surplus of cats. The staff are taking extra measures to make sure the cats are safe and happy, even playing soothing classical music and using aromatherapy to create a calm environment.
While many of cats are adoptable, some are skittish and wary of humans, making them a bit more difficult to place in homes, with some even being classified as feral. St. Huberts has already re-homed the outdoor feral cats as barn cats, providing the cats with a safe outdoor environment where they are well cared for.
If you want to help, please visit at: www.sthuberts.org/emergencykittyrescue.
[h/t Cole and Marmalade]