Growing up on a farm in central Kentucky, one of the things I got used to was cats. Cats here, cat there, cats and kittens everywhere!
Well, maybe not that many, but it sure felt like it. See, felines served as an essential part of any pest control regime, keeping the rodent population down at virtually no cost.
Having tons of cats made sense in a rural context. But someplace like, say, suburban New Jersey? Not so much.
Amazingly, though, that’s exactly what happened in the Garden State. Imagine the scene, a rural home in Ledgewood.
The residence has no electricity or running water. Its only occupant is an elderly caretaker.
Oh, an elderly caretaker and the cats. Not one cat or two cats or even a dozen cats.
Instead, the residence has 172 cats teeming in and around it. That was what authorities found when they came to investigate the property in the first week of July.
The felines were initially noticed by neighbors who saw them teeming around the home. But unlike most cases where local governments have to step in to care for neglected animals, the owner of the property didn’t try to hide the fact that he was having a problem.
Rather, the owner contacted authorities himself. Soon enough, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center and Kittens with a Mission showed up to help.
“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 told CBS New York. “There’s always an embarrassment factor, an issue of people judging for what has become this overwhelming number of cats on the property.”
This case proved particularly poignant. The kitties had belonged to the caretaker’s wife.
When she died, he did his best to continue to care for them. But it soon became too much.
Interestingly enough, authorities have decided not to press charges in the case. Also, it’s evident that the man in question really was trying to care for the little furballs.
Karen Dashfield of St. Hubert’s stated that “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.”
The center has started asking for donations since it now has nearly 200 extra mouths to feed. In the meantime, the cats are enjoying an entire new life.
Not only has the center given them pods to live in, they’ve also received regular brushing, aromatherapy, and piped-in classical music. Oh, and they’ve also been spayed and neutered to (in the words of Schatzmann) “ensure that they’re not reproducing again before they go out to adoption.”
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