The cats removed from an Annandale home on Village Drive on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19 and 20, are now under the care of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, with many reportedly being treated at local veterinary hospitals for upper respiratory and eye infections.
The total number of cats removed from the home has grown from 114 (as of Saturday afternoon) to between 160-170 cats. Fairfax County officials have reportedly determined the house is uninhabitable.
Animal Control officials learned of the situation from a cat rescue and foster group based in Alexandria City.
"We treat it like an emergency situation," said Michelle Hankins, community outreach coordinator for the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, of the large-scale response by the shelter to get the cats out. "Fortunately we have the resources and tools on hand due to grant funding to address the situation."
"I think in this situation, the person was acting as a rescue," said Hankins, but she added that she wasn't sure if the two women who lived at the home were acting as official rescuers. Hankins also said at the moment, there is no way to know how long the cats were in the house or if the animals were properly socialized.
Neighbor Linda Kozaryn, who lives across the street from the hoarders, told Ellie Ashford of the Annandale blog the two women who lived in the house "just got overwhelmed" and were "too old to care for the volume" of cats in the home. According to Kozaryn, the cats were well-cared for.
Information about which local veterinary hospitals have taken in the cats for health evaluations and about the condition of the cats is not being released to the public at this time.
However, the animal shelter is currently seeking donations for the cats through the Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, a private, non-profit organization that raises money to support the shelter for special case emergencies such as hoarding situations like this. Hankins said the organization is seeking the following items:
- Towels (clean or gently used)
- Flat sheet (clean or gently used)
- Avoderm dry cat food
- Avoderm wet cat food
- Royal Canin baby cat food
Monetary donations can also be made through the Friends by visiting their support page here and specifying the donations are for the "Village Drive Cats." To view photos of the cats, visit the Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter's Facebook page.
While the shelter hopes to get the animals adopted in the future, Hankins said their concern right now is to make sure the cats are "going to be as healthy as can be for potential adopters."
"Usually when you're dealing with animals, if something like an illness is going to present itself, it will be within 10-14 days," said Hankins. "It's a waiting game. We're just trying to improve [the situation] and change it and respond to the daily needs right now."
When asked about the potential effect the change of environment would have on a cat if it moved to a single cat household from a multi-cat household, Hankins said that any cat will adapt easily if the cat is friendly. Any cat in that situation would likely receive more attention in a single cat home and thrive.
There has been an outpouring of support from the community in response to the situation, Hankins said, noting that businesses have reached out and offered their services to the shelter at reduced prices. "We haven't asked, but people want to help," said Hankins.
"We're grateful for the support. We're thankful to the shelter volunteers who have stepped up and helped us in every way from taking photographs to taking care of the animals, every aspect of dealing with this."
To learn more about how you can donate or adopt a cat, view the Annandale Patch Q&A: Village Drive Cats, Hoarding and How You Can Help.