COLUMBIA — Investigations regarding why Susan Kohler kept 32 cats — 28 of which were alive and four of which were dead — in a Motel 6 room are ongoing, and many questions remain unanswered.
After receiving a call and obtaining a search warrant, Boone County Animal Control removed 28 cats from room 328 at Motel 6 on 3402 I-70 Drive S.E. on Wednesday.
“Somebody just called our office and said there’s a lady staying at Motel 6 on the east side of town, and she has a lot of cats,” Molly Aust, supervisor of Animal Control, said.
Although 28 of the cats found were alive, four were found dead. Three of these cats were in a freezer; one was in a crate in the room, Aust said.
Aust, who was one of the people to carry out the search warrant, recalled a terrible odor upon entering the room. She said urine was sprayed throughout the room and feces was everywhere.
“The litter boxes were so full, in fact, that they weren’t even using them anymore,” Aust said. “The bathtub was overflowing with empty cat food cans and trash.”
There was no food or drinkable water in the room, Aust said.
The cats were taken to the Central Missouri Humane Society. Typically, rescued animals are held for five days, said Gerald Worley, environmental health manager of Boone County Animal Control, but with this situation, it is complicated.
Kohler is scheduled to appear in court June 25. Her actions are in violation of a city ordinance allowing ownership of, at most, four dogs or cats. Animal control plans to take responsibility for the welfare of the cats for an indefinite amount of time.
“We may have to hold them while that legal action is occurring,” Worley said.
Cats needing immediate assistance were taken care of Wednesday, Aust said. Thursday, Animal Control conducted a more thorough investigation of each cat to determine which ones needed veterinary care.
Aust hopes to speak with Kohler about relinquishing rights to the cats and hopes Kohler will cooperate.
“I don’t know that I’ll be successful, but I can always try,” Aust said.
“The longer they stay at the shelter, the possibility of them becoming more feral will kick in,” Aust said. “If they’re not being handled any more than just to clean their cages, they will get to where they don’t care if they have human contact or not.”
Aust said Kohler seemed surprised when Animal Control arrived at the motel room. Aust repeatedly asked Kohler why the cats were being kept in the room but got no answer, he said.
“I wouldn’t say she was uncooperative either, she just didn’t have anything to say,” Aust said.
Employees at the Motel 6 where Kohler was keeping the cats and might have been residing, declined to comment.
Aust said she was aware Kohler had another address and said she thinks Kohler was not actually living at the motel. As of Thursday afternoon, Kohler's actual residence was not confirmed.
“We believe that she would come to the hotel and spend the day with her cats,” Aust said.
The question of why Kohler was keeping so many cats in the Motel 6 room remains unanswered.
Worley and other members of Animal Control are continuing to investigate the incident.