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Felines feeling better after rescue

Annie Zelm • Feb 4, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Five of the 86 cats seized last week from a woman's Willard home are responding well to the care of humane workers, officials said.

The animals still have digestive problems and have yet to be tested for worms and other health conditions, but their social dispositions may give them a better shot at adoption, humane investigator Kathleen Hampton said.

"We're going to try to make them better, but we just don't know what the end result will be," she said.

The cats' ages haven't been determined, and they still need to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated before a new owner can take them home.

Hampton said the cats haven't adapted to using a litter box yet, though it's an instinct for most cats.

It's likely they were never encouraged to use a litter box, or there were never enough boxes available in the Spring Street house they shared with dozens and dozens of other cats.

Police and humane workers seized the cats from filthy conditions last Wednesday after receiving an anonymous tip.

Most of the cats retrieved from the home were immediately euthanized because of illness or injuries, according to Huron County Humane Society workers.

Ruth Barnett, the homeowner, told officials she took in the strays and cared for them. She had not been charged with any crime as of Thursday.

Willard law director Scott Christophel, who is reviewing the case, hasn't returned multiple phone messages this past week seeking comment.

Hampton, meanwhile, said Barnett has called her multiple times each day to ask about the animals.

Hampton said Barnett is as a prime example of an animal hoarder — someone who has good intentions but is unable to adequately care for the animals she takes in.

A few months ago, Barnett promised Hampton she would spay or neuter the cats and wouldn't bring any more into the house.

At that time, Hampton said, it was difficult to determine how many cats actually lived there. There was also not enough evidence at the time to merit a search warrant.

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