Officials rescue 57 cats from hoarder

TUCSON, AZ (KTRK) -- 57 cats and kittens were seized in an animal hoarding case.

The cat owner is under mental health evaluation, while animal care nurses the cats back to health.

The cats stay towards the back of their cages because they're not very interested in human contact.

That's because they didn't get much where they lived.

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"Because of their lack of socialization because of the environment they've come to us from some may not be suitable for pet homes. We have a lot of program here at Pima Animal Care Center for community cats, so cats that are more feral in nature, we have programs in place where we can find somewhere for them to go," says Adam Ricci of Animal Care Center.

He says animals uncomfortable with people could be placed where they might keep pets down and still be safe and cared for.

Animal Care says all 57 of the cats were packed into a single wide mobile home.

A neighbor who didn't want to go on camera described just how big a project it was to gather up all those cats.

She said there were six vehicles from the care center with cages stacked high.

The cats were discovered when a health problem sent their owner to the hospital.

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"Sometimes there's family that's been aware, it's gone on and they're tried to help. In some situations they are disconnected from any types of friends or family or any of those types of support systems to help them," says Adam Ricci.

Ricci says sometimes losing a special person, like a spouse can lead someone to try to replace that love with animal after animal.

He says call Animal Care if you see someone with too many pets to be healthy for the animals or themselves.

Animal Care officials weighed, vaccinated and dewormed the kittens, which ranged from young to middle-aged.

Several of the cats are in need of dental work, surgery and tumor removals.

Adam Ricci described the cats' former living conditions as "deplorable" and not suitable for humane care.

Ricci stressed that he and his team are not only working to help the hoarded cats, but their owner, too.

"Animal hoarding has been classified as a serious mental health issue," said Ricci.
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