Hoarding Cats: Tree House Recovered 61 Cats and Counting


Imagine nearly 100 cats inside a home with no air conditioning, no food, excrement everywhere and just some windows opens – luckily those open windows that provided access to the outside saved lives.  “I am not allowed to go inside the home at this point, it’s condemned,” says Tree House Humane Society TNR manager Liz Houtz. “It’s about 100 degrees inside, and you can smell the urine even from the street.”

Most of the cats inside this hoarder home are now accounted for. Tree House has 61 cats, PAWS Chicago has 22 cats. Chicago Animal Care & Control participated with the two private agencies to help to trap many of the cats.

Houtz says, “We’re unsure but believe there are still about eight or 10 cats that have eluded us..” There may be additional cats that have wandered far enough from the home that they won’t immediately, or ever be trapped – no one knows.

Tree House Humane Society Executive Director Dave deFuniak says only one cat was ‘fixed.’ All the others required spay/neuter, which Tree House has stepped up to do, or will do as some cats are still in line to be ‘fixed.”

So, now what do you do with all these cats?

deFuniak has two of the smallest kittens, which he is fostering, and both are quite under-nourished. Though health checks haven’t been done on all the adult cats, it’s appears that most are under-nourished, but otherwise in reasonably good health, though some do have problems. Also, most of the cats are either somewhat or very unsocialized. Other cats do appear social.

PAWS has reportedly relocated many of the cats into their feral farm program, Tree House has many more cats. deFuniak says, “Luckily we have some foster families who have the capacity and the time to care for many cats. And various individuals have stepped up to help out. But yes we need more foster families. Some of the cats may require longer term fosters.”

Houtz adds, “The shelters couldn’t have done this without help from neighbors who have provided us with information, and some even allowing us to set traps in their yards. Most (of the neighbors) have been great.”

The city declared the brick bungalow at 6207 W. Roscoe St. uninhabitable in April. The lone resident was evicted, though windows were left open, and the mostly black cats poured out of the house at their will. It’s clear this is a case of hoarding cats, and thought that even when evicted the owner periodically showed up late at night to feed the cats.

Neighbors said workers didn’t board up the home at the time the homeowner was evicted, fearing the cats inside would die. That’s a good thing, but no one (so far) can yet answer how this issue has gone on so long without informing animal control. “I don’t think anyone was aware of how bad this situation was,” deFuniak says. Still, it’s apparent – something fell through the cracks regarding communication with city agencies.

deFuniak says the police animal crimes unit is investigating, and he says he personally won’t be surprised if charges are filed.

Tree House has set up a fund specifically to deal with this emergency to pay for the costs of spay/neuter, and medical treatment for those cats that need it. Please consider donating here: TreeHouseAnimals.org/BelmontCentralCats. Another idea is to help Tree House pay for equipment and supplies or to purchase, more info on the Amazon Wish List can be found here: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/GZV2BMT5D1CL/ref=cm_wl_huc_view.