In a sunny room on Old Deerfield Road, Kelly Moyer sits surrounded by shaved, Persian cats.
See more photos of the cats at Patch's Facebook page.
Moyer, the founder of , a Highland Park-based no-kill animal shelter, has been taking care of 21 Persian cats
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The cats' fur was so matted that many had to be shaved. One needed emergency surgery to give birth to two kittens. Two had parts of their tails removed because the skin was rotting. Three died.
The survivors, however, have come a long way. After spending tens of thousands of dollars in veterinary procedures and services and routine doses of food and affection, Moyer is seeing noticeable improvement. Where they originally didn't eat and kept huddled in a corner, the cats now wander the room and purr when they're pet.
"They get better everyday," Moyer said, holding a can of wet food out as a cluster of cats crowded around it. "Once they get into a comfy, loving, clean, safe environment, they just blossom."
Two of the cats have already been adopted, and Moyer is confident it's only a matter of time before the rest find homes as well.
"Now the only difference between them and normal cats is that these cats don't play," Moyer said, pointing to an untouched cat toy lying on the floor. They don't know how, she explained.
"They've never played before."
Police cite residents
It took Moyer a week to get the cats out of the garage. The family originally told her there were 25 cats, the result of two kittens purchased from a breeder and placed in the garage five years ago.
Moyer only found 21. Two had died in the garage during the winter and the other two never turned up.
The Highland Park Police Department launched an investigation that culminated on Thursday when the police issued citations for unlawful treatment of animals and the keeping of animals in violation of city ordinances to Jorjic and Agnes Badalpour. They live on the 1000 block of Windsor.
A phone call from Patch to a member of the Badalpour family was not returned. According to Moyer the Badalpour family has been contacting her with "unpleasant communication."
"They accused me of lying," Moyer said.
The citations can result in up to $1,500 per cat or jail time, according to Moyer. She may be called to testify at the administrative hearing, which is set for Aug. 16 at 3 p.m. at City Hall.
In the meanwhile, she will continue to make her rounds to the bright room in Tails of Hope, watching the cats grow friendlier and furrier and waiting for new owners to take them home.