Daviess County Animal Control found more than 35 cats and kittens Wednesday in a small apartment on W. Byers Ave. According to animal control, the felines were taken to the Daviess County Animal Shelter (DCAS), and the owner of the cats was charged with animal cruelty.
DCAS Director Ashley Thompson said the cats were living in unhealthy conditions when animal control arrived at the scene.
“Their food supply was OK, but we didn’t see much clean water and there was a lot of hair loss. The hair loss is consistent with flea infestation,” she said.
Thompson said several of the cats looked sick, something that can be expected when so many animals are living in a small space. The cats could be suffering from upper respiratory infections, but Thompson said it’s possible they’ve contracted feline leukemia, which is very difficult to treat and can be passed down genetically when cats breed and multiply.
“We asked her where they all came from. She said a couple of the cats kept having babies,” Thompson said. “This is an example of what happens when you don’t get your pets fixed.”
Animal control chose to charge the pet owner with animal cruelty based on unfit living conditions for the animals, as well as a lack of veterinary care.
“There was a strong smell of ammonia throughout the apartment,” Thompson said. “The litter boxes were full and looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in a while. That’s a lot of cats to take care of.”
Thompson said the animal shelter is already holding an overabundance of cats and that, unfortunately, this situation may see some of the cats euthanized so that the shelter has enough room for a healthy number of cats.
“We have to take them in and take care of animals in neglectful situations,” she said. “It’s not a good life for them there. We’ve got to have foster homes for these cats.”
Each cat and kitten has already been vaccinated and will be seen by a vet on Thursday.
Animal hoarding isn’t something the animal shelter sees often, but Thompson said they’ve seen a few instances over the years. While many animal hoarders suffer from mental health issues, Thompson doesn’t know that the owner of these 35-plus cats suffered from any.
“Animal hoarding does seem to go along with mental health issues, but she was cooperating with us,” she said. “There were a couple of cats hiding in the home that we couldn’t get to, and she said she’s going to bring them in [to the shelter]. She asked us if she could have 10 of them back [after being treated], but I think maybe four would be a better number for her.”