20 Persian Cats Rescued from Highland Park Garage

What started as two kittens became 25 cats in a room with no ventilation, heat, air conditioning or litter boxes.

It took Kelly Moyer a week to get 20 Persian cats out of the Highland Park garage they had been trapped in for years.

The Tails of Hope founder had heard that a family in the community was trying to get an organization to get their cats out of their garage so they could renovate it. is a no-kill animal rescue and adoption nonprofit based in Highland Park, so Moyer naturally felt compelled to offer her help. What she saw in the garage shocked her -- and, as she told Patch, she's seen a lot.

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There were no litter boxes so the floor was covered in feces, and no ventilation.

"The smell -- oh my God, the smell was overwhelming," Moyer said.

It seemed like the work of a hoarder, according to Moyer, who had seen similar situations in the past. The family originally told Moyer there were 25 cats, the result of two kittens purchased from a breeder and placed in the garage five years ago. Moyer only found 20, all of which she said were in terrible shape. Two cats died in the winter -- the garage also had no heat or air conditioning -- and the owners think the remaining three are still somewhere inside, hiding.

"This does go on, even in Highland Park," Moyer said.

After crawling under furniture to rescue the cats, Moyer brought them to a vet, where they had to be shaved because their fur was so matted. The owners had never groomed them.

"We shaved matts off that were the size of another cat," Moyer said. "I don't even know how these cats moved."

Some of the cats had to have their tails amputated because the fur was matted so severely. Once the fur was removed, the cats were all skin and bone. Despite the fact that they hadn't been eating properly, they were too scared once they were out of the garage to accept food at the vet. They stayed hidden and hungry for days until they finally became a bit friendlier.

"It will take some work to socialize them," Moyer said. "They were in shock because they'd never been out of that room."

Though she says it won't be easy, Moyer is convinced all 20 of the cats will eventually be adoptable. The $8,000 to $10,000 Moyer believes will be necessary to help the process of healing them will come from a fundraiser at on Wednesday. Starting at 5 p.m., Tails of Hope friends, family and volunteers will mix and mingle, and Enoteca owner Bobby Dubin will donate 15 percent of every dinner to the nonprofit.

"Some of them will always be shy, but certainly able to live in a home normally," she said. "They're not feral. They're afraid."

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Jennifer Fisher (Editor) June 20, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Wow, that's really sad. Thank goodness Tails of Hope is helping these cats. Here's hoping they all get adopted!
Chilawyer June 21, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Open Letter to the Reporter, Jacob Nelson: I am a lawyer and former college newspaper editor. I am frankly surprised that you have not published the names of the people that mistreated these animals or their address, which you surely possess. Any deal with Ms. Moyer to protect the identities of these people would have no basis in journalistic ethics. Do you not have any information about whether these inhumane people have been subjected to legal action. I await your response. You owe it to your readers to supplement your story with these important details.
Jacob Nelson (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Neither Kelly nor the Highland Park Police have disclosed the names of the residents who had these cats. The police are building a case and said the information would be released when/if charges were filed. And Kelly refused to tell me the names because she didn't want to jeopardize her ability to get the remaining three cats from the house.
Robin S. June 23, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Corner house - Windsor and Deerfield Rd - currently for sale.
Lisa June 23, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Hi everyone! I personally walked into where the cats were. they did have heat and AC. i saw it will my own eyes. the cats were fed ample amount of food each day. they did have litter boxes. if they didn't have litter boxes then people would have been stepping in feces as they walked in to grab the cats. The family chose to give away the cats on their own to Tails of Hope. This news feed has been made up much more dramatic than the situation really was. i understand they want money. Fundraising from what I know has already started. I hope the cats will be placed in good homes. thanks for your time.
Shelly June 24, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Lisa,obviously you are a friend of the family and you are trying to protect them. Look at the photos. We're you there everyday when they were fed? We're you there everyday when it was above 90 degrees and when it was in the 20's in the winter. Did you smell the house and garage? You saw the litter boxes? If there were litter boxes for 20 cats- how many were there? Was there ample boxes for all of them? Nice try Lisa, write something when you know what you're talking about.Ive been by this house (address posted above) and when the garage door is open you can smell the cat smell from the street, that's 20 feet. Thank god for Tails of Hope!
Kelly Moyer June 24, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Lisa, a picture speaks a thousand words. Please see the 6 pictures I just attached. I think the 6,000 words express the neglect and cruelty that these helpless cats had to endure. Kelly Moyer, Tails of Hope Founder
Kelly Moyer June 24, 2012 at 02:03 PM
The police are gathering all the evidence, we should now this week. We will keep you posted. Thank you for supporting the Persians!
Kelly Moyer June 24, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Hopefully some of the cats will be available for adoption later this week. We will post available cats on our website. Thank you for your interest in the Persians!
Kelly Moyer June 24, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Shelly June 24, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I see on the website that the house has been in short sale for 3 months. So what do they mean that they want to renovate the garage? They can afford to renovate the garage but the house is in short sale,doesn't make sense to me.
A concerned resident of H.P. June 24, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I just read about this story yesterday...WOW! The utter disregard that this family has demonstrated towards other living creatures is nauseating! I share the thoughts and concerns of the others who were good enough to share their opinions (Except Lisa). I passed by the house on my way home yesterday out of curiosity. The garage door was open and three people were doing a major clean up job! From what I could see the garage was extremely cluttered and filthy...I'll bet they're cleaning up! Im sure they're anticipating the arrival of a news crew or two! Thanks for the coverage Jacob but why haven't we seen this on the 10:00 news? No matter what ANYONE says to the contrary, based on these images (above) alone, these cats were neglected, abused and subjected to animal cruelty! Bravo Kelly Moyer and Tails of Hope! I will be donating to help the cats! A concerned resident of H.P.
Anne June 25, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Sounds like a bunch of propaganda to gain awareness for a particular cause in my opinion. Now do not get me wrong, in no way do I condone what has taken place however, 8-10k to feed and shelter what obviously looks to be severely ill cats? This country doesn’t even do that for its citizens. If they are in the shape that has been portrayed, end their misery and put them to sleep! As American’s can we possibly make one cost effective decision this year?!! Now just because these individuals have been acting irrationally, immorally, unethically, call it what you please, does not justify the rest of the community doing the same based purely on emotional judgment. And making statements such as listing the names and addresses of the people in question….the only thing that conjures up is the integrity of such a cause and its supporters.
Heidi Dooley June 25, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Anne, your comments make me SICK. We absolutely do this for humans, clearly you've never been in a nursing home or dementia ward. And it's all paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, tax payer dollars. And I fully expect the costs to far exceed 10,000. Way more. To house, feed, litter train, vet and then find good homes will take much more. Not to mention surgeries, medications, and grooming. And countless days and months to rehab these babies. You clearly have never been involved in any type of animal rescue or you wouldn't be so uninformed. I commend you Kelly! Thank you SO much for saving these kitties. I am a huge fan of Specialty Purebred Cat Rescue and I believe they have taken in a few of these Persians. I'm currently awaiting one poor guy who's tail was amputated to get well and I will be adopting him. And I've donated to them to help with their care. These cats were horribly abused and the photos and condition of these cats tell the story. I will be writing to the police to push for harsh prosecution AND these people should be court ordered to pay full restitution for every single cent needed to care for these cats. In this country we can not allow people to create huge sick messes and then just kill them animals involved and think its no big deal. And the health department should be contacted, this garage should be condemned and if it's attached to the house, it also should be inspected. And ALL of this could have been prevented by a simple spay and neuter.
Sofia K June 26, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Bravo Heidi Dooley!!!!
John June 26, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Ann, I have not supported this shelter in the past but I surely will in the future! Applying your political views regarding how we spend our money as a community to a situation such as this? Please. Maybe you should be put to sleep!! I''m right of center but you're a whole new kind of Republican! Don't forget Ann, these animals can't help themselves. They aren't sitting at home taking drugs, not working and on Government assistance. Just vote for Mitt and don't misplace your fiscal frustrations. You must not have children or animals because they cost a small fortune to care for. I'll bet this $ estimate is low. As for the person who listed the violators address - I'm not saying I would have done it BUT I'll bet their neighbors appreciate it! I like to know who my neighbors are and most others in our community do as well. Their should be an animal cruelty offenders list just like the sexual offenders list. I'm happy that HP has an advocate for these animals such as Tails of Hope. I'll bet anti cruelty would have come in and gotten them and simply euthanized them. Sometimes the easy thing to do Ann is not always the right think to do. Reflect on your comments, reach deep down in your heart, and help those who can not help themselves.
tia June 26, 2012 at 11:35 PM
To tell a person to be put to sleep is sick. The animals are severly ill. they wont even last a year. do you understand that? you have no heart John. it's best to let them die in peace. they have already suffered enough.
Sarah5543 June 27, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Tia, are you a veterinarian and/or wizard who can see into the future? If so, THAT'S AMAZING! I can't believe that you can foresee these cats all dying within the next year after receiving proper medical care, food, shelter and TLC. You're so right. I TOTALLY see them all dying from this horrible case of 'rescue'. Duh. Tia, it's time you go to SLEEP. After all... you must be pretty tired by how delusional you sound right now.
Sarah5543 June 27, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Euthanize Tia?
Sarah5543 June 27, 2012 at 05:05 AM
I'm sorry. That was wrong of me.... I meant to say to euthanize Anne, as well.
Tia1 June 27, 2012 at 05:37 AM
You are all Delusional ppl ! Ask Kelly how sick they r! They are sick cats! From what I heard, they r very Ill...... Get the picture? I feel bad for them and what happened but that kind of money is ridiculous! Any human would know that helllooo! You Sarah must be sick to for wanting me dead over a cat! You need to seek help! I'm disgusted! I hope you don't live in highland park..... I would be sickened to come across an animal like yourself
Sarah5543 June 27, 2012 at 05:53 AM
Who ever told you that your life was more precious than that of any other living being? I'm done here. I'm pretty sure I've already sufficiently dominated this argument. WHAMMY. Oh, and Tia... I'll be seeing you around... <3
tia June 27, 2012 at 06:32 PM
You are absolutely right Sarah. You wouldn't know the difference between a human and an animal. I do wish the best for the cats. whether its putting the ill ones to sleep or rescuing the ones that will make it. you are an extremist Sarah. you are one of those people that has made 1000000 mistakes in her life and you trying to make good deeds for some selfish reasoning of regret from your past. you think I'm stupid? get a life! and get a clue! and don't EVER tell me to die or anyone human. you are inhumane.
tia June 27, 2012 at 06:47 PM
by the way i did save and print every comment of you threatening to Euthanize me! wanting me killed. I'm off this site as of now. babble as much as you want.
Susan Creighton June 27, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I do not believe you, Lisa. Kelly is a moral, upright person who would not make this story up! The pictures alone should be enough proof.
Sarah5543 June 28, 2012 at 05:25 AM
I'm PETRIFIED. Speaking of "petrified"; way to waste paper, Tia! On a more serious note. I do respect the fact that you want the best for these cats but your idea of what is in their best interest is completely warped, to say the least. I'm not an extremist. Im a college educated licensed veterinary technician; I've done no bad deeds. I am just right and you're wrong. Smell ya later, Tia. =)
Sandy July 12, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Tia, recently one of the cats was adopted by a wonderful, caring person. After all he has been through, he has survived and become a loving, family pet. If this can happen for one it can happen for many/all of the cats. Perhaps you should withhold your comments until you are better informed, Tia. Thank goodness others didn't follow your lead and react on the basis of "from what they heard"! Think & become informed before you offer an uneducated opinion. God bless Kelly, Tails of Hope and everyone involved with rescue & rehabilitation of these poor babies.
Sandy July 12, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Heidi, I'm a follower of SPCR & own a cat from them. I commend you on giving one of these precious babies a chance at a truly loving & happy life. I've owned a few cats from SPCR (sadly they've crossed the rainbow bridge) and I know the amazing care they give all their foster babies. And I know how amazing Kirsten & her volunteers are. I moved to Florida several years ago so, unfortunately, I'm no longer able to adopt through SPCR. Good luck to you & your new baby!
Kettlebelle7 August 22, 2012 at 05:45 AM
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi And props to Heidi Dooley's comments as well.
js August 26, 2012 at 07:25 AM
I know this rescue first hand.Kelly works beyond hard to save animals like this. Anyone that takes 2 seconds to imagine that her motives are anything but pure should be "put down" for being ignorant. I appreciate the work her and the team she has does.


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