ARL Rescues Dozens of Cats from 4th Hoarding Case in 10 Weeks

posted on Thursday, July 11, 2019 in News

(UPDATE 07/16/19; 12PM): A total of 42 cats and kittens have been rescued from this house, representing all of the cats in the home, so the active rescue has now concluded. A total of 2 kittens (including 1 previously reported) unfortunately were unable to withstand the conditions they came from and died in our care, despite our medical team’s best efforts to save them. Medical treatment continues for the remaining 40 cats in our care, many of whom are still critically ill.

(7/11/19; 10AM) ARL Animal Control Services and the ARL Mobile Rescue Team deployed yesterday to rescue dozens of cats and kittens from deplorable conditions. So far we have rescued 36 cats, most of them kittens, but we are still working to rescue the cats that are hiding in the crawl space under the house.

Cat Hoarding, 7/10/19

“This is our 4th cat hoarding case in just 10 weeks, but it never gets easier and nothing prepares you for what you’re about to see,” said Tom Colvin, CEO for the ARL.


The ammonia from the cat urine made the air quality so poor that ARL rescuers had to wear protective suits and respirators in the near 90 degree temps. The home was stifling, with no air conditioning units – just a single fan in one window. But that was only the beginning. Every step they took sent clouds of fleas into the air. Cockroaches were everywhere - climbing up the walls, on countertops, and in the cats’ food. There were piles of garbage and cat feces throughout the entire house. When ARL rescuers emerged from the house they had to spray their entire bodies with insecticide because they were completely covered with fleas.

Cat Hoarding, Kittens

“It was bad for the ARL rescuers, but so much worse for the cats,” said Colvin. “The majority of the 36 rescued so far are kittens. All have severe upper respiratory infections, conjunctivitis, ear mites, and eyes that were crusted shut. They were all infested with fleas and many were severely underweight, with several suffering from anemia. But, one look at one of the smallest made our hearts sink. A 6 week-old kitten, who we named Baby, was severely anemic and so underweight he didn’t even weigh a pound. The fleas had literally sucked the life out of him and by the time help arrived, it was still too late. Despite our Miracle Medical Team’s best efforts to save him, there was nothing else we could do. Sadly, Baby died from severe blood loss due to flea infestation within hours of his rescue.”

Cat Hoarding, Kitten

Another older kitten had an untreated wound on her leg that was full of living maggots. She was also anemic and severely dehydrated. We immediately began administering IVs of fluids and antibiotics to treat her infection. Despite the pain she was in, she chirped at us and leaned in for pets during her entire exam and treatment.

Cat Hoarding, Cat Medical Exam

The ARL is seeking the public’s help with donations of dry cat food as well as monetary donations to help with their medical care. Donations can be made online here or by mail/in-person (5452 NE 22nd Street, Des Moines, IA 50313)