Call it cat chaos.
Rescuers say they took 161 cats Tuesday from a home in southwestern Colorado Springs Tuesday after an intervention with the homeowner.
“They were not neglected. Just the sheer amount of them was neglect on her part,” said Carolyn Spillner of Lakewood-based Life Is Better Rescue, which led the rescue.
The rescue started about 2 p.m. and ended about four hours later when the Life Is Better Rescue van, about the size of a small U-Haul, showed up in the parking lot of King Soopers on Cheyenne Meadows Road with all the cats in stacked crates and kennels built into the van. The intervention included an agreement by Life Is Better Rescue not to reveal the location of the hoarder’s home.
The cats, of varying sizes and colors, were taken in by about a dozen rescue groups, including Every Creature Counts of Fort Lupton, Wild Blue Animal Rescue & Sanctuary of Black Forest and Pueblo-based Pet Project. The cats, which meowed and groaned as they were transferred from the van to awaiting vehicles, will be available for adoption.
“They’re good to go,” Spillner said.
The cats were not mistreated and lived in “big kennels” where they could run freely, Spillner said. They’re in fairly good health, though some have eye problems, which is not uncommon for cats, she said.
“We’ve already started treating some of them with antibiotics,” Spillner said.
Some of the cats are pregnant, and all will probably have to be spayed or neutered, she said.
“That’s our first goal, to get them all spayed and neutered,” she said.
Georgia Cameron, executive director of Life is Better Rescue, said all the cats were found in the garage.
“It was clean for 150 cats,” she said. “She had them separated into male and female pens, or what she thought were male and female pens.”
Tuesday’s rescue mission started with a cat bite.
Laura Lampley, a 30-year-old Denver woman who fosters cats, said one of her cats bit her last week when she was putting it in a crate. Lampley spent two nights in the hospital and was “really bored” in her hospital bed.
“I have a really bad habit of looking at Craigslist ads for animals that need help,” she said. “I came across a Craigslist ad for Pueblo that said, ‘Cats in need of homes.’”
Lampley said she called the number and got a call from a Montana woman who said her friend needed to move and find a home for her cats.
“I didn’t know how many cats it was at that time,” she said. “I was thinking it would be maybe 20 to 30 cats, but then Sunday night, she called me after she had gotten to the house and said it was about 150 cats.”
Lampley said she almost dropped her phone.
“I started calling everyone I knew in rescue and emailing. I just emailed every single rescue in Colorado Springs asking to see if they could take any cats if we were able to go to the house and get the cats out.”
Lampley said the Montana woman “negotiated” with the owner to let rescue organizations take the cats and avoid trouble with animal control.
Lampley said last week’s cat bite was a blessing in disguise.
“My boyfriend thinks that I’m crazy anyways for looking on Craigslist for cats that need help,” she said, laughing.
“But I’m passionate about animal rescue, and I spend my nights trapping cats in dark alleys in Denver at all hours, fixing feral cats, cats that no one wants, and picking up strays. I think I was supposed to find this Craigslist ad. If anyone was going to find it, it was going to be me because I do scour Craigslist to see if there are animals that need help.”
Lauri Cross, executive director of Wild Blue Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, said cat hoarding is not as uncommon as some people might think.
“I’ve been working with a group up in Wyoming where they have a hoarder of, I think, it’s 205 cats,” she said. “They were looking for help outside the state even to take care of that problem.”
Contact Daniel Chacón: 476-1623
Facebook Daniel Chacon