172 Cats Rescued from a “Horror Movie” Home in New Jersey

A tragic situation unfolded in Sussex county New Jersey. A dilapidated house was the residence of an elderly man who was widowed when his wife passed away. The man was not able to keep up the home after losing his wife and it fell into a horrifying state of disrepair. He shared his home with well over 100 cats who left urine and feces throughout the dwelling, making it uninhabitable.

“Felix the Cat” creator’s son gets involved

When authorities became aware of the situation, action was taken to rescue the felines from the squalid environment. Animal welfare authorities made arrangements to perform a cat rescue, and when New Jersey native Don Oriolo heard about the sad story, the self proclaimed animal lover lent a hand to help. He is the founder of the Kittens With a Mission animal rescue group. He was informed about the situation by neighbors who were concerned. Don’s father is the co-creator of “Felix the Cat.”

Oriolo’s description of the living conditions

Oriolo described the home as “uninhabitable” and with more than a hundred cats in the home, the smell was overwhelming. The environment was neither safe for the human occupant or for the cats. He went further to state that “the conditions were like a horror movie.” While people who heard about the neglected cats were outraged with the homeowner, Oriolo made it clear that the elderly man was “heartbroken” over the situation. Those who know the homeowner’s story are a little more understanding that he just got in over his head and was unable to cope with the situation. There was no running water in the house, nor was there electricity.

The numbers keep rising

The animal rescue group prepared to retrieve 100 cats from the home, but they had a big surprise in store for them. upon arrival, they discovered that there were far more. At last count, the organization had rescued 172 cats from the situation and there may still be more in need of re-homing.

A joint effort

Oriolo is joined by other agencies in the effort to save the unfortunate felines. The St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center has taken on several dozen of the cats and are caring for them until suitable homes may be found. The effort to catch and remove the felines has been ongoing for the past month.

Help is needed

Each of the rescued cats has been treated for the health issues they developed while living in the unhealthy environment. These include flea and mite infestations, dehydration, malnutrition and more. The cats have been vaccinated and spayed/neutered while under the care of the rescue agencies. They are up for adoption and in need of suitable homes. Many of the felines are conditioned and trained, making them excellent candidates to become a family house pet, but some that are not well-socialized are offered to farms in need of mousers. The rescue organizations are asking for donation funds to help care for the large number of felines in rescue, to help with the costs of medical and nutrition.

A record set

This ongoing cat rescue is the largest operation in its category, to date, according to St. Hubert staff, and the organization has been around for 80 years. It was further noted that the owner of the home that the cats are being rescued from has provided his full cooperation, and authorities have disclosed that they are not expecting any charges to be filed against him.

Conditioning strategies

The cats had become accustomed to living in filth and decay, and in order to help offset the damage done, St. Hubert’s staff is exposing them to classical music, aromatherapy and catnip to help calm them. The kitties have also been given pet toys to play with as a part of their socialization training. The cats are getting everything they need at the shelter, but more are coming in as the last of the stragglers are being caught and transferred to the emergency shelters. Anyone who is interested in making a donation or adoption of the needy kitties is encouraged to go on the website to learn more. It can be found at : www.sthuberts.org or Facebook page and email your name and telephone number to:


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