ST. GEORGE — Multiple animal rescue agencies have stepped up to find foster homes and permanent families for over 30 cats who were born inside a home they never left.
A St. George resident reached out to the St. George Animal Shelter after being served an eviction notice, letting the shelter know dozens of young and adult cats were still in the home. The cats were all born inside the house and have never been outside.
Due to their isolated upbringing, the re-homing process is expected to be quite traumatic for all of the cats involved, and foster homes are currently being sought to help socialize the cats before they are adopted. Although the owner has no problem handling the cats, they have become wary of strangers and will hide when others enter the home.
In a statement, Kelli Stokes, founder of the animal rescue RSQ Dogs, said 12 cats had been taken from the home Sunday and were brought to the St. George Animal Shelter, who will supervise each of the cats’ placements into foster homes. The shelter, however, has reached its maximum capacity, despite about 20 cats remaining with a number of rescues and within the home.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is housing six fixed cats and RSQ Dogs has a litter of 8-week-old kittens and a litter of 3-week-old kittens along with their mother. Stokes and other RSQ volunteers will be entering the home again on Tuesday to trap more cats that are still in the home even though the tenant has moved out. The organization is also working to help provide foster homes.
One of the cats accepted to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary was medically assessed and euthanized due to injuries he sustained from prolonged neglect.
One More Chance Cats, a local feral cat trap and release organization, has offered its services, spaying and neutering each of the cats. Kris Neal, director of the organization, told St. George News that the cats’ isolated upbringing may pose a problem in trying to adopt them out.
“They have not been exposed to other people, therefore they like her, but visitors come, other people come, and they run,” Neal said. “They may or may not be adoptable.”
Neal said the organization is working to prepare the cats for any situation, including giving them rabies shots and clipping one ear to indicate the cats have been spayed or neutered, in the event that they become outdoor cats.
Since working as a trap-and-release organization, Neal said she has been involved in dozens of situations like this one. She said instances like this can be avoided by ensuring pet owners are spaying and neutering their animals.
“These situations turn from two cats to 30 cats in less than two years,” she said. “The living conditions in a house with that many cats become horribly unsafe.”
Linda Thomas, RSQ Dog’s feline medical director, agrees, adding that a lot of these cases can be helped with proper education and increased availability of resources.
“I think it’s just about getting resources out there,” she said. “Would that have helped this woman? Yes, absolutely.”
Rescues like RSQ Dogs, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and PAWS are nonprofit organizations that offer resources for pet owners at little to no cost.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and the Humane Society have low-cost spay and neuter programs for animal owners who don’t necessarily have the funds to pay full-price. One More Chance Cats has a little-to-no cost spay and neuter program for feral cats — also known as community cats — around Washington County.
For owners who can’t take care of their pets anymore, there are also a number of shelter options in Southern Utah, including several no-kill shelters.
“This is not the only one, this is just one that we became aware of,” Thomas told St. George News. “How can we help these people? How can we get the information out that there is help available for people who don’t have the resources? There are community resources available for them.”
Thomas hopes the community will understand that the woman did the right thing by reaching out to the shelter.
The city of St. George allows two dogs or cats per residence, but residents can own up to five pets with a “sportsmanship” permit.
If residents want to get involved but are unable to foster, Thomas said animal rescues are always in need of donations, including money, blankets, food and litter.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.