(Picture Credit: Photo by Laurie Cinotto/Getty Images)

Typically, when rescuers and authorities discover a cat hoard, it’s a rather nasty situation. However, that wasn’t the case in Katanning, Pennsylvania, where a disabled veteran and his wife took in 61 unneutered and unspayed cats over time while feeding and providing litter for all of them.

But even the best caretakers could find the growing clowder overwhelming. Sadly, the couple knew they couldn’t keep giving all the cats the care they deserved.

Luckily, to address the situation and provide for the cats, a multi-county coalition of shelters and rescues formed to step in and care for the dozens of cats in the hoard.

Not A Single Cat Neglected

Outside of the cat hoard’s lack of population control, the Armstrong County couple took superb care of the cats, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Most cases of a similar nature, when reported, are horrifying. When rescuers and authorities find the cats, they’re often suffering from malnourishment and abuse, and their “owners” do not cooperate with authorities.

In this case, however, the disabled veteran caring for them, while suffering from PTSD, was truly doing the best that he could manage.

Armstrong County Humane Police Officer Chris Jirak O’Donnel, who volunteers at the Orphans of the Storm animal shelter, was called upon for assistance with the situation.

“I did not see one skinny cat, and most of them were friendly,” she said. “I can’t imagine what they spent each week on cat food and litter.”

How To Even Begin To Help

While healthy cats certainly didn’t make the situation harder, it definitely didn’t make it easier, either. Finding homes, or even a care facility, for 61 cats was a tall order for O’Donnell.

“One place told me they do not handle hoarding cases because they do not have the resources,” O’Donnell reported. “One big hoarding case can bankrupt a small non-profit, and everyone is swamped with cats and kittens. But I thought, ‘How can we walk away from this?’”

However, O’Donnell didn’t give up and helped form a Humane Action Team, comprised of a Kittanning veterinary clinic, four shelters, and four rescues representing Allegheny, Armstrong, Indiana, and Westmoreland counties.

These shelters and rescues had varying resources, specializations, and space. But all of them did what they could to lighten the load for everyone else.

Here’s a list of the shelters and rescues that so generously stepped up.

Spreading the cats out over this large coalition helped them receive the care they deserved while maintaining population control.

O’Donnell further credited the couple who initially took them all in for reporting and cooperating, despite the over 60 humane law violations they could have faced.

Their compassion was met with compassion in-kind from local authorities. With the help of HARP, they took in several of the cats who would have struggled with adoption.

Preventative Measures For The Future

For any future cases of cat hoards, the Humane Action Team is ready; they now have a precedent for how to handle this situation in the future.

“Because of the dedication of the staff and volunteers of these organizations, the cats and this family have a brighter future,” O’Donnell said.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Humane Action Team, donating to its efforts to the involved organizations, or inquiring about adoption, you can contact O’Donnell at her email address, [email protected].

Most animal hoarding situations don’t turn out so well for cats. If you see signs of hoarding, report the issue to local authorities or animal welfare groups. CatTime has a full guide to animal hoarding and the signs to watch for here!

Have you adopted a cat from a hoarding situation? Are you happy that this couple accepted help once their cat hoard got too big to handle? Let us know in the comments below.

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