Friday, June 28, 2013

When Compassion and Caring Turn to Tragedy (The Foreclosure Cats Story)

Written by Donna Bolte

(Warning: this article contains difficult subject matter, but we believe it's important to honor all of the duties our volunteers take on, and we hope that by spreading the word about situations like this one, others will be motivated to prevent them.)

The countryside around Cambridge, MN is beautiful, and when you turn down the driveway of this particular address you note the lovely setting and the great set up for horses. There's an arena for training horses, stables with roomy stalls and covered outdoor area with a dove cote on the second story, and that sprawling home with lots of windows.  Then you get closer to the stables and notice the building that looked so great from a distance is boarded and patched and in a room upstairs there's patches of old-looking fur scattered on the floor. Across from the stables, a dead cat is decomposing on top of hay in the hayshed.  Then there's the house.

Again, as you get closer to the house, its appearance deteriorates. Blinds are askew, grass is high, there's junk lying around, and there's a sense of abandonment. And there's the stench. Even though all windows and doors are shut, a nauseating stench exudes from the house.

The real estate agent handling the foreclosure of this house discovered its contents and contacted Vickie Lachelt, head of the Spay-Neuter-Outreach Program at Feline Rescue.

She had worked with Vickie on a similar unfortunate situation last year where 20 kittens, pregnant females, and other adults were rescued from a nice country home when owners walked away.  Luckily outreach volunteers were able to find homes for those 20 cats.  Over the next several weeks, outreach volunteers returned to the Cambridge house again and again, taking bags of dry cat food, cans of soft food, litter boxes and litter, and containers of water.

What outreach volunteers found were almost 60 cats, luckily most still alive but starving and dehydrated, some of whom had been trapped in this house with no opportunity to escape.  The owner accumulated these cats, then locked the door and walked away.

The stench was so overpowering and the filth so pervasive that some volunteers wore masks and surgical booties to enter the house.  Live-trapping the cats to get them out of there and on the road to health and safety began immediately.

Trapping most of the cats wasn't too difficult as hunger drove them into the live-traps to reach food at the end of the traps.  Some of the cats were too scared to enter the traps and volunteers returned time and time again until convinced that all cats had been rescued; untouched food and water was a good indication that no cats remained in the house.  Unfortunately, some cats hadn't made it and several were found in an air vent, obviously attempting to escape, and one was found stretched out on the floor under a shelving unit.

Some of the cats were in pretty good shape, others were terribly thin.  A couple had damaged eyes, only one was spayed or neutered.  Most were young and petite although there were few tiny babies.

You could tell the cats had tried to be good.  Litter boxes scattered throughout the house were mounded with feces.  The excrement radiated from the area around the litter boxes, lined walls, was concentrated in corners, but was pretty much everywhere.  The stench of urine made volunteers gag.

The most heartbreaking aspects of this situation were holes in the screens and ripped wallpaper as cats had presumably tried to claw their way out of windows.  There was no escape as the holes in the screens only led to locked windows and ripping the wallpaper only led to solid walls.

The majority of the cats were scared.  A dozen were hiding in the underside of a sofa.  Trash and remaining furniture had to be overturned in order to locate terrified cats.  Most of the cats are now safely in foster homes or with other no-kill shelters that stepped forward to accept them.  A few have been fortunate enough to find permanent homes.  Most require patience, a quiet environment, and healthy food to overcome their ordeal.  Most remain skittish but in following-up with foster caregivers, they are gradually coming around and accepting human kindness.

Feline Rescue volunteers continue to return to this address to live-trap cats who are living outside the house.  These cats did not have to endure the miserable existence of the cats trapped inside the house, but must be relocated since they were left behind with no food source or caretaker.   Some of these outdoor cats are friendly and can be adopted into homes; others that are not socialized will be relocated to hobby farms or barns where they will be fed and cared for properly.

One more animal hoarding situation resolved; many lives saved that could have ended tragically.  One lesson to learn from this is that animal hoarding situations have to be stopped.  This home owner may have felt compassion for stray cats and wanted to save them.  However, spaying and neutering them would have stopped this situation from spinning out of control.  There are humane solutions to animal over-population but when the problem becomes this huge, even those solutions become more difficult to carry out.

How could one justify the filth, the starvation, the overcrowding these cats were made to endure?  What about those around who knew about this situation and didn't step in to help?  Another lesson is that everyone needs to be aware of situations like this and try to step in to assist.  Thankfully these cats were discovered by the real estate agent before it was too late for most of them.  Thankfully, she was wise enough to contact Feline Rescue's Spay-Neuter Outreach Program for help.

The cats who endured this terrible experience will be available for adoption through Feline Rescue's Spay-Neuter Outreach Program.  After living so closely together, many of these cats are bonded and would do best if adopted together to ensure transition to a loving, patient home is successful.  If you can open your hearts and homes to these deserving cats, please contact Feline Rescue's Spay-Neuter Outreach Program at

If this story has touched you, please consider making a donation to Feline Rescue so that we can continue and expand our work. There are many ways to donate - you can find more about them on our website, or on this blog's Donate page.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


A very nice police officer found 2 tiny kittens (just getting teeth and only drinking kitten milk) on the highway in Red Lake and brought them to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue.

I worked with Feline Rescue and found a foster home for these tiny orphans, but learned that the next transport from Red Lake would not be for several days. I knew how busy Karen was at the shelter and how much care little orphans require, so I took the afternoon off work and drove up to Bemidji, met Karen to get the kittens and drove right back down with them -- an eight-hour roundtrip. The next morning I took them to their foster mom who is a specialist with tiny orphan kittens. We decided to call them "The Puffs", for obvious reasons :-)

Cheeto Puff
Cocoa Puff
The kittens are doing great! Eating hard and soft food and learning to snuggle with humans. They are so beautiful!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Abandoned cats ready for forever home

Pele and Kumo were two of the first cats to be rescued from a foreclosed home where over 60 cats were abandoned (inside and out). Here they were enjoying their first meal in days.  

The cats were very scared at first in their foster home, hiding all the time. But they are adjusting well and ready to find a forever home. Here's the update from their foster caregivers:

Pele (brown tabby) has made so much progress in being social. She doesn't mind being picked up, loves being played with and fed, and frolics around with the other kitty.  They're pretty much best friends and cuddle and play and even wash each other sometimes. I've learned that Pele is very easy to train, and I've even gotten her to play fetch with me sometimes.  Her favorite toys are tiny aluminum balls and pipe cleaners (she REALLY loves pipe cleaners, don't worry - I make sure there aren't any sharp edges). Pele has even grown to sleep with us sometimes at night at the foot of the bed. 

Kumo (grey) I have not lost hope on yet! She is older than Pele and so is taking more time to adjust, but she has made huge progress since getting here. She'll let people get close if they have something she wants.  She even ate something out of my fingers once. I took your advice and only feed them and let them eat when I'm sitting next to the food, and that seems to have helped a lot. Instead of hiding all day, she is willing to be seen most of the time.  At night, she seems much more relaxed around people and doesn't mind being close. Sometimes when I give her treats or catnip, she'll inch closer to me curiously but run away if I twitch or something. But it doesn't take her long to try again. Last night she was curled up next to Pele on the couch next to the couch I was sitting on. Also, during the night I hear them chasing each other all the time.

Thanks to Kirsten and Cory for stepping up to foster these girls so we could save more of the cats. Is anyone ready to take it from here? For information on adopting Pele and Kumo, call 651-295-3758 or email

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Sweet little Sassafras is looking for a home.  Here, Sassy's foster mom provides a description:

Describing Sassafras gets may be my imagination, but she seems to change from moment to moment (Sassy's so a lady-like sort of way...). So here's what she's not (pretty much):

Sassy's not very big or very old, but I wouldn't say she's still a kitten. She isn't always playful but she doesn't sit still a whole lot either. If there's a ribbon around, she might not jump for the Cat Dancer. And I've noticed that watching birds from the windowsill isn't quite as intriguing to her as, say, playing soccer. When her foster sister, Chipmunk, doesn't want to wrestle (which isn't often) Sassy might - or might not - be found napping at the top of the cat tree. And Sassafrass doesn't cuddle all the time, but I certainly wouldn't describe her as stand-offish.

Her fur? Well, Sassy's not a long-haired kitty, but she's not exactly short-haired either. Depending on the light, her fur might look brown and black, and those faint tabby-stripes aren't always visible. Her tail, though, is definitely not just ordinarily's maybe a little bit "puffy" - except not long puffy, if you know what I mean. Oh, and her eyes aren't totally gold or totally green - and they don't miss much.

Finally, I'm sure she doesn't know she has feline leukemia because she has no current health problems, so I'm not going to tell her. Lavish her with love and care (like you would any beautiful, sweet, quirky kitty) and she'll never know the difference!

To meet Sassafrass or hear more about her, call 651-295-3758 or email

Saturday, June 15, 2013

WARNING: Baby Kitten Cuteness Alert!!

All the kittens and Mama Tehya are doing just great. My little black kitten hit 10oz. today and Baby Dot gained a whopping 0.7oz. from yesterday to today! I am very pleased that they are all thriving.

Oh, and Baby Sage's eyes are just starting to open a tiny bit today. Once Sage's eyes are open, then all the kittens will have their peepers wide open.

The first pic is Baby Sugar, that kitten is ALWAYS snuggling by Tehya's face.

The 4th & 5th photos are Baby Cream, that kitten is a love bug and always wants us to tickle its tummy!

I was able to capture Mama Tehya's look of concern that she bears every night as I weigh the kittens in pic 6. She always looks on like if she can read the scale! She is patient and calm as I handle the kittens to weigh them, but she does seem interested to know the numbers :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Foreclosure cat update: Henry at home

Henry, the orange and white kitty, was one of the last few cats to be rescued from the foreclosed property where over 60 cats were abandoned without food. He has already been adopted and is living the good life with plenty of food, love, and a kitty companion.

Some kitties, especially the shyer ones, are still looking for foster or forever homes. Marlin and Little Turnip would love to find a home with someone willing to work on socializing them together. Marlin, a beautiful black cat, is an adult and the only cat found on the property who was already spayed/neutered. He likes to be petted but is shy. Little Turnip, the fluffy kitty, is younger and much more afraid. But she finds comfort snuggling with Marlin in tight places. And she also loves mealtime! If you can help email

Monday, June 10, 2013

The right diet for your cat

Good nutrition can make all the difference for the health and happiness of your cat.

Albert weighed 22 pounds when he was abandoned. At this weight, it was difficult for Albert to play or even get around. He came to stay at Woody’s Pet Food Deli, where he was fed a raw food diet to lose weight and get healthy.  

Today Albert is several pounds lighter and happy and healthy in his forever home.

Mama Love arrived at Feline Rescue with possible food allergies, missing fur from her midsection back.


After several weeks on a raw food diet, Mama Love’s coat has grown in. Now she’s happy in her new home too!  

To learn more about cat nutrition, visit The Feline Nutrition Education Society features lots of articles on the connection between diet and disease and information on how to feed your cat for a long and healthy life.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tehya and her six new kittens

Just in the nick of time, a stray cat was rescued on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and taken to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. Two days later- she had a beautiful litter of six kittens!  Her belly was big as a balloon when we took her in, but we did not think she was going to have kittens so soon.
Thankfully, Feline Rescue was able to take in the little mama and her family.  She was transported on Monday, May 27th to her new foster home.
We are so happy we got her just when we did! She is a wonderful cat and a great mother too. 

So far, so good! My momma (Tehya) is doing an awesome job taking care of her kittens, and the whole bunch seems happy and healthy. I snapped a couple of pics during our session when we weighed the kittens yesterday. My youngest son holding the kitten he named “Dot.” Oh boy, he’s already starting to bond with that kitten!
Our momma is sweet and gentle and she genuinely seems to love it when we all hang out in her room with her and the kittens. Last night we sat on the floor and played Oceanopoly while Tehya lounged in bed with the babies and purred loudly. She enjoyed standing in the middle of our game board for several bouts of tickle time! She’s quite a little ham.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Update on foreclosure cats Petunia and Posey

Petunia and Posey were taken in by a Feline Rescue volunteer and are making wonderful progress. This week Petunia will return to the vet for her eye and spay surgery.  Then the girls will be ready to find their forever home! Here's their story from their foster mom:

Petunia was one of the most adversely affected cats at the foreclosed home hoarding situation. Frighteningly thin with a damaged eye, this petite tabby has touched my heart. Yes, she is shy but is coming around. Petunia has stripey legs and tail but her torso has a more solid/mottled gray appearance with a darker stripe running down her back.

Because Petunia needed extra recovery time to become sufficiently robust for her spay surgery and to have her eye examined, she was staying in my computer room on her own. However, after living with 50+ cats, she seemed pretty lonely and scared. So to help Petunia adjust to her new life, Posey joined her. It was beautiful to watch their reunion. They curled around each other, bumping heads, and settled down to sleep together. They remain very bonded and need to be adopted together.

Posey is also very petite and is a lovely calico with beautiful markings of black, orange, and white. She has a black moustache and a black dot under her chin. Posey is the most outgoing of the two kitties while Petunia has a very gentle nature. Posey thinks she's a real smarty pants.  She loves her bed now that she's discovered it.

Both cats are shy but are responding well to attention and are relaxing in their new environment. Of course, they enjoy sitting in the windowsills, playing, and are excellent about using their litter box. Both cats are young and LOVE other cats. When the door to their room is open and my own cats walk by, or come into the room, Petunia and Posey cry and rush over to greet them. They assume every cat will love them, probably because they lived with so many.

Petunia was fascinated with the feather wand when I was playing with one of my cats in their room. Tentatively, then with more enthusiasm, she started playing as well. Posey is more assertive with her toys and drags or bats them around. Both are now interested in expanding their horizons beyond their room. The normal cat curiosity has kicked in.

It’s been rewarding to watch Petunia and Posey respond to loving care, particularly considering the horrifying environment in which they lived. These little girls don’t ask for much; a safe home together with sufficient food, comfortable places to curl up, and the human love they didn’t experience in the past.

For more information about adopting Petunia and Posey or to help care for other cats abandoned on this property email or call 651-295-3758.
Related Posts with Thumbnails