Waukesha Co. officials expose severe case of cat hoarding

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WAUKESHA CO. (WITI) -- Animal welfare officials are calling it one of the worse cases of cat hoarding.  They removed nearly 150 cats from a property in Waukesha County living in deplorable conditions.

“We got a call from the humane officers that there was a property that had been overrun with cats,” Lynn Olenik, Executive Director of Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County said.

It's a call any animal lover hates to get, and when Olenik went out to the home last week, her team found 40 cats the first day and even more the next.

“We found out she had another property and all together we collected 144 cats in a week's period of time,” Olenik said.

Most of the cats were either found dead or were in such terrible shape, that the only option was to euthanize.

“They were underweight.  They were dehydrated.  They had numbers of different types of infections going on,” Olenik said.

Fortunately, HAWS -- the Humane Animal Welfare Society in Waukesha was able to take back 50 of them.  Some are as young as three days old, and officials say they are very social and ready to go to a new home.  Others, however, require a bit more attention.

“They are in the various stages of upper respiratory.  They'll be spayed and neutered.  They'll be de-wormed.  They'll get their vaccinations,” Olenik said.

While they'll eventually go to better homes, she says this should serve as a reminder to be watchful of owners with signs of hoarding, like odor, excessive pet waste and cats with poor coats.

Olenik says the owner willfully surrendered the cats, and at this time, there is no word as to whether charges will be filed.

“They have such an emotional bond that they're unable to release them, and something goes a little haywire.  All of a sudden, 20 turns to 40, turns to 80 and these animals are continuing to breed,” Olenik said.

In this case, Olenik says a simple call or welfare check earlier could have saved dozens of lives.

“It's very difficult for the staff involved.  That's not why we're here. We're here to save lives,” Olenik said.

“It'll be some time before these cats are up for adoption, so until then, HAWS is asking for donations of cat food, kitty litter, towels and money so the staff can provide the necessary treatments.

HAWS does offer free spay and neuter services for animals in Waukesha County.

When these cats are available for adoption, they will be posted to the HAWS website: CLICK HERE.