More than 100 cats and kittens, some so hungry they were eating rocks, have been rescued from a property on Juniper Canyon Road, officials said Thursday as they continued efforts to care for them.
They were discovered two weeks ago after neighbors and the Crook County Sheriff's Office tipped off the Humane Society Of the Ochocos that there might be a problem.
A woman in her 90s lived in the home, and those involved in the case told NewsChannel 21 she may not have realized there was a problem.
The shelter staff went to the property and assessed the situation. They found more than 100 cats and kittens. Unfortunately, some of the cats had died of starvation and other causes.
"About probably 40 percent of them being kittens, running all over the property," Stephen Drynan, executive director of the humane society, said Thursday. "Some of them, unfortunately, being dead -- dead kittens lying about."
Many of the cats were starving and eating by any means possible.
Three of the kittens had to receive surgery to remove rocks they had consumed, thinking it was food.
"We're finding a lot of them, like this little guy here, that are coming in wasting away, starving," Dr. Bethany Holman said. "They are healthy otherwise, once they eat. He's putting on weight like crazy."
Food, medical bills, spay and neuter costs for more than 100 cats was more than the shelter could handle. It was going to cost somewhere around $11,000.
Drynan approached PetSsmart and looked into their emergency relief grants. They have provided a grant of more than $10,000, easing the monetary stress of caring for the animals.
Many wonder how something like this could get this out of hand. Shelter workers say they think the problem probably started with a few cats that were not spayed or neutered cats.
Drynan said that just one unspayed female cat can cause a huge overpopulation problem.
"Just one unspayed, if the entire group is unspayed, can create 65,000 cats," Drynan said. "That's a lot of cats. It does become a burden on neighbors."
Many of the older cats that were found are feral and not adoptable to people looking for indoor house cats.
The shelter is working closely with CRAFT (the Cat Rescue, Adoption and Foster Team) in Tumalo and its cat placement program that will find the feral cats homes on farms, ranches or barns.
Many of the other cats found are tameable and are going to be put up for adoption, once they are ready. Many of them are too small at this point, but will be ready for adoption soon.
The shelter is still in need of fosters and donations as they are still trapping new cats from the property every day.
You can find a link to the website if you are interested in helping here.