WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WREG) – Staff at the West Memphis Animal Shelter have their hands full after rescuing 60 cats crammed inside a storage closet.
The unit measured 10 feet by 20 feet, although the Arkansas shelter won’t reveal where it is located.
“The ammonia level in that tight space was so high that it was toxic,” shelter director Kerry Facello said.
Facello said the problem began a little over a year ago when the cats’ owner died. Her relatives weren’t prepared for all the cats she left behind.
“It just got overwhelming,” Facello said.
They ended up putting the cats in the unit on the woman’s property, where they were given food and water but lacked space and medical attention.
Many of the cats have upper respiratory and eye infections. Some have matted fur.
“It’s very likely they started out with less than 60, but none of the cats being spayed or neutered, it resulted in many, many, many more cats,” Facello said.
Because of the nature of the case, Facello said it doesn’t meet the strict standard for animal cruelty; therefore the owners aren’t facing charges.
“The state laws are very specific, and animal cruelty ordinarily is defined by more of an aggravated act of cruelty purposefully directed to an animal,” Facello said. “This situation was a situation that clearly got out of hand.”
She said the owners reached out to multiple rescue groups for help but hadn’t received any.
Facello said a Memphis rescue group has agreed to take half of the rescued cats, while the other half will go to her shelter.
The West Memphis Animal Shelter said they need help from the public.
They are asking anyone can to donate supplies, including scoopable cat litter, canned cat food, Purina cat chow in the blue bag and money for vet visits.
If you would like to adopt or foster one of the cats, call (870) 732-7599.