MESA, Ariz. -- Dozens of feral cats, including 16 kittens, are recovering at a Maricopa County Animal Care & Control Center shelter after being rescued from a Mesa home.
Mesa Animal Control seized 40 cats from the home of the unidentified alleged hoarder Tuesday. MAC took those cats to the MCACC West Valley shelter.
All of the cats were suffering from upper-respiratory infections. Now that the animals have been cleaned up and treatment started, vets are closely monitoring the cats and kittens, three of which are newborns.
"We're going to be treating them for the next couple of days," said MCACC spokesman Audie Greybear.
While the situation at the Mesa home seemed to out of control, Greybear said he doesn't believe the individual intended to harm the cats.
"It was an individual residence that was trying to help out the cats, these stray cats," Greybear said. "I think it just overwhelmed this particular individual. … They just multiplied and overtook the home."
Greybear said it probably started with the homeowner feeding a single stray. But stray cats tend to travel in packs, especially once one of them finds a food source.
"When you feed one, you feed the rest," he explained.
While this is the biggest case of cat hoarding MCACC has seen this year, Greybear it's a fairly common problem.
"There's still a lot of residents out there that continue to cater pet hoarding," he said.
There are also colonies of feral cats in some areas. In those instances, Greybear suggests TNR -- trap, neuter, release -- to help control the population and curb aggressive behavior.
The cats, especially the kittens, will be placed with foster families until they are well, properly socialized and can be spayed or neutered. Some of them could be available for adoption in as little as three months. The rest will be available in about six months.
It's not yet clear if the homeowner will face and charges.
For more information about these cats and kittens call 602-506-PETS (7387). To learn more about TNR, call Altered Tails at 602-943-7729 or visits AlteredTails.org.