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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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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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