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Relief Efforts Continue At Lane County Homestead Overrun With Hundreds Of Cats

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Brian Bull
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KLCC

A handful of people are doing what they can to keep an estimated 300-400 cats properly fed, hydrated, and healthy. Besides medical attention, the animals also need food and water. 

As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, animal caretakers have managed to remove a few felines from the premises outside Veneta.

A scrawny white kitten with orange striped tail cries out, from a sun-baked yard littered with feces, and dotted with urine spots that have killed the grass.

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC
KaSandra Riley treats "Lucy" at a makeshift station in the back of a truck. On the day this picture was taken, temps were nearing 100 degrees and many animals were hiding in the shade to stay cool.

KaSandra Riley runs back and forth between a makeshift first-aid station, where she treats cats for ear mites and ticks, and a wagon loaded with cat food. She’s the daughter in-law of the property owner, who’s in the hospital. 

With possibly up to 400 cats on the premises, I ask Riley how things got to this point.

“One mama kitty and five babies.” (BULL: How long ago was that?) “About 13 years now.” (BULL: And it just kinda grew from there.) “It grew a lot from there.”

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC

Joining Riley today is Shad Carson, who’s assisting the group, Save the Pets. He’s helping bring food donations to the site.  Since news first broke of this homestead’s cat population, nearly two tons of food have been donated by the American Human Society and Natures Pet Market. $3,200 has also been raised towards caring for the cats through a PayPal account set up by Save the Pets. 

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC

Carson says the situation is especially dire for the kittens.

“The sad thing is that a lot of the males will kill the kittens, because they want to mate with the females again," Carson tells KLCC.  "And they won’t until their kittens are weaned and gone. So it’s a horrible situation.”

Lane County has deemed the house “Unsafe to Occupy” given the amount of feces inside, as well as exposed wiring and other structural issues.  Meanwhile, Carson says Save the Pets has legal authority over the cats.  They removed five recently, though a black kitten didn’t survive. For the rest, however…

“The four that we got didn’t have any major issues, only FIV in one of the pregnant females. Something she can absolutely live a long, healthy life with. And the rest didn’t have any of the ringworm or FIP that we were worried about.”

WEB EXTRA: See some of the homestead's cats as of late August:

Ideally, a national animal welfare group would set up a field hospital here, says Carson.  Besides immediate health care for the cats, all would be neutered or spayed. A female cat can pretty much have kittens her entire life, up to three litters a year, with an average of four babies each time. That math means a mess of mewling felines, with a multiplication factor that is astounding.

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC

Carson says they’ve inquiries from some organizations.  In the meantime, he helps where he can.  Remember that scrawny white cat with the striped tail?  (MEW!)  She’s leaving with Carson tonight, to a local vet.  There she’ll be treated and hopefully adopted into a forever home…where conditions are safer, and roomier.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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