Glenwood shelter takes in 86 cats |

Glenwood shelter takes in 86 cats

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
Chad Spangler/Post IndependentColorado Animal Rescue Shelter employee and veterinary tech student Stacy Cannon, left, holds on to a cat while CARE Executive Director Leslie Rockey cleans its ears Thursday afternoon at CARE's Spring Valley facility in Glenwood Springs. The shelter received 86 cats Wednesday that were discovered living in a single residence in Battlement Mesa.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Three cats lay curled up next to each other in a tiny cage at the Colorado Animal Rescue shelter.

None of the cats in that small crate took a sip of water or nibbled at food they had been offered hours before. One cat’s paw seemed to shake and quiver in anxiety.

“They are freaked out,” said Leslie Rockey, the executive director of Colorado Animal Rescue, or CARE. “They are not eating at all.”

The sensation that cat felt was probably shared by the 85 other cats and kittens that Garfield County Sheriff’s animal control officers brought to the shelter Wednesday afternoon. All those felines were discovered at one residence in Battlement Mesa, according to CARE staffers.

Additional details about the discovery of the cats were not immediately available from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office late Thursday.

The sudden influx of dozens of cats to the animal shelter, which already has about 80 cats, caused its staff to rally for more than eight hours to catalog, vaccinate and house the animals at the shelter late Wednesday.

The staff also worked to treat the animals for intestinal parasites and tested them for two major feline diseases, said Rockey, adding many of the cats brought to the shelter had upper respiratory problems.

Rockey said the first group of cats, about 36 of them, came to the facility about 3 p.m. Wednesday and that they staff didn’t stop working until about 10:30 p.m.

“It was controlled chaos,” said Stacy Cannon, a veterinary technician student at Colorado Mountain College who also works at CARE, of the sudden addition of dozens of cats. “We had people triaging the cats and setting up crates. We had a good system going. It was a good team effort.”

With little sleep after Wednesday’s event, staff at CARE were back working to clean and care for all the new cats Thursday, along with finding additional crates to give them more leg room.

“It is a little overwhelming,” Rockey said of the situation. “It is going to strain everyone. This is a huge burden for us.”

The vast majority of the cats have been put into about 34 crates, many of them stacked on top of one another, in a small building the shelter uses to isolate sick animals away from the shelter’s main population. The cats were located there because of initial reports that the newly arrived cats had respiratory problems.

“We had no idea how bad they were,” Rockey said. “We wanted to set them up totally away from our current population because we don’t want to bring anything bad in here.”

However, Rockey added some of the cats were surprisingly healthy.

“I think a couple days of some high quality food and a clean environment they are going to be great,” said Rockey, adding all the cats show a gentle and kind demeanor. “They all need a bath. They were in a bad situation.”

Rockey said CARE staff was working the phones Thursday to contact area shelters and other groups to see if they might be able to take in any of the new cats. The staff was also reaching out to the community for help.

“We really want to stress to people that we need people to adopt (these cats), we need foster homes,” Rockey said. “We need cat litter. We need volunteers to help take of these cats.”

There were about 20 to 25 kittens among the cats taken to the animal shelter on Wednesday. There might be a possibility that those animals are in-bred, Rockey said. But she added that they didn’t know the exact details of kittens’ living situation or their lineage to make a definite determination of any possible in-breeding.

The transfer of 86 cats to CARE comes at a time when the shelter has faced significant financial challenges largely caused by housing cats and dogs taken to the shelter by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Last month, the Garfield County commissioners approved a motion to move $100,000 to help the shelter get through the rest of this year. It was operating in the red at the time.

CARE and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office offer spay and neutering programs for area residents’ pets.

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