Cat hoarding case strains DeKalb County animal shelter

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Almost every cage in the feline intake area of DeKalb County Animal Services holds at least one, but more like two or three cats suffering from some sort of illness. From respiratory infections to conjunctivitis that's so severe, their eyes are swollen shut.

Shelter spokesperson Karen Hirsch told FOX 5's Portia Bruner animal control officers removed 56 cats from a two-bedroom apartment in DeKalb County on January 23. She said code enforcement officers cited the woman hoarding the cats and said that woman could face animal cruelty charges when she appears in court.

"You would turn a mattress over and 20 cats ran out all over the place. They were in the cabinets, the closets, just everywhere. The furniture was all torn up and the cats were covered in urine so the health of these animals has really deteriorated," said Hirsch. "The animal control officers said the apartment smelled like someone poured bottles of ammonia all over the place."

When it comes to cats, the shelter is pretty much at capacity and according to Hirsh, 80 percent of these cats are not eligible for traditional adoption.

"If you have a farm or an outdoor business, these cats will be good mouse hunters. They'll be perfect for that kind of setting where you just feed them and let them roam because they don't care for human contact. But the other 20 percent will be eligible for traditional adoption once we get their health back in order," she said Monday.

Hirsch said she hopes other people who see or smell signs of trouble will report it to their county animal services shelter.

"If you see something, say something. You may be the only voice for these animals if they are in need of help. I feel sad for the animals and the owners because sometimes they are just trying to help, but then they get in over their head," Hirsch said.

The DeKalb County Animal Services is managed by LifeLine Animal Project, a non-profit animal welfare organization located in Atlanta. Anyone wishing to donate to help the cats can do so by clicking here.