LANCASTER — Forty-seven cats were removed last week from a Garrard County trailer, and animal shelter employees are planning to remove about 60 more from the same home in the coming days.
The cats are not victims of abuse but rather had been allowed to grow in numbers to the point the homeowner no longer could adequately care for the animals, shelter Director Earlene Harris said.
The shelter received the first report of a large number of cats at a fifth-wheel trailer in the Paint Lick school district on April 12. The first 47 cats were removed April 14, Harris said.
Since then, shelter employees have learned the woman still has about 60 more cats they plan to remove. Harris did not release the name of the woman but said she is middle-aged, possibly in her 50s.
Harris said the woman is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina and moved to the area after the natural disaster, bringing eight to 10 cats with her. The cats apparently were not spayed or neutered and began to breed uncontrolled. Their numbers grew from there, she said.
Among the first 47 removed, Harris said 10 kittens have died because they were very small and weak. Most of the rest of the cats are in fairly good health, and none has rabies, she said.
“These animals were not abused. She had too many,” Harris said. “I think she just got in over her head.”
The woman has about $5,000 in unpaid vet bills stacked up from caring for the cats, Harris said.
Harris said handling all of the cats has been a big job for a small county shelter with a small budget.
“We weren’t prepared for 100 cats,” she said.
Still, shelter employees are caring for the cats on a daily basis, traveling between the shelter near the Boyle County line and a house on Crab Orchard Road where the cats currently are being housed.
Harris said there are no plans to charge the woman with any crimes because she is cooperating with authorities in removal of the cats. Harris agreed to allow the woman to keep her original eight to 10 cats that traveled with her from the Gulf Coast area.
“I thought we were down to a handful (left at the trailer),” Harris said. “Then yesterday, I got a report that there’s actually about 60 more to go.”
Harris said the woman initially was not entirely upfront about how many cats were living with her, but she sympathized with the woman’s situation. Agreeing to have the animals removed was difficult for the woman emotionally, she said.
“It was very hard (for her),” Harris said. “She sat down and cried.”
The cats are being adopted out of the house on Crab Orchard Road, which the shelter leases to use for its low-cost spay and neuter clinics. Harris said 12 cats had been adopted out as of Tuesday afternoon.
The rest of the cats being taken from the trailer will be moved into the house as space is available. The shelter’s facility is already full with more than 60 dogs and has no space for the cats, Harris said.
The cats range in age, with the youngest at the shelter’s house being about 4-5 weeks old. Harris said a few 2-week-old kittens were adopted out on Monday, just moments after they opened their eyes for the first time.
Anyone interested in adopting one of the cats may call the Garrard County Animal Shelter at (859) 792-1562.