When an animal cruelty investigator responded to a concerned individual's tip that a neighbor had 13 or so cats in their home, he found something unbelievable.
Not 13, but 88 cats resided in the home in Ypsilanti Township, Mich.
"This is probably the worst hoarding case we’ve seen in recent years," Matt Schaecher, director of the Humane Society of Huron Valley's Animal Cruelty and Rescue Department, said in a release. "The house was beyond disgusting, with feces, flies and garbage everywhere. There were fragile little cats in every nook and cranny of the house. I literally pulled four cats out of the silverware drawer."
The Humane Society of Huron Valley rescued the cats Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, according to MLive. They were malnourished and flea-ridden. Many were suffering from upper respiratory illnesses, Deb Kern, director of marketing and media relations, told The Huffington Post. But the felines are now on their way to recovery.
“Even though many are in pretty rough shape, I think with the right treatment and care they have a great prognosis," Dr. Carrie Allen, HSHV shelter veterinarian, said in a statement.
Kern said their shelter was already close to full capacity for adult cats before the rescue. Though the rescued kittens are not ready for adoption yet, HSHV is having an event Friday through Sunday where people can adopt one of the shelter's other cats over the age of 5 months for free. The shelter is also asking for donations and items from their wish list like food and pet beds for the rescued cats.
Animal hoarding is a growing problem, with reported cases increasing steadily in the last 10 years. Since 2010, more than 4,000 animals have been rescued, according to Mother Nature Network's Morieka Johnson.
HSHV CEO Tanya Hilgendorf acknowledged the problem of animal hoarding, but said they still planned to have the case prosecuted.
“Animal hoarding is a mental illness, but prosecution, combined with mental health treatment, is the only immediate way to stop it and make sure no more innocent animals are hurt," she said. "This is a serious and growing problem nationally and it creates immense suffering and public health and blight concerns. It is also a costly, difficult burden on local shelters already overburdened and under-funded. These cases require a serious response.”