Sixteen cats were rescued Wednesday from an unlicensed broker in Iberia, Mo., by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Central Missouri Humane Society. The owner, Sandra Hudson, voluntarily relinquished the cats after she was contacted by the department, which learned about the cats from a Hallsville veterinarian, said Jason Ramsey, director of development and public relations for the Humane Society.
Hudson does not face any criminal charges because she voluntarily handed the cats over to the Humane Society. The cats came from an unlicensed breeding facility in the Lake of the Ozarks area that officials discovered a few weeks ago, said Jerry Eber, program coordinator for the animal health division of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
“Obviously, it’s difficult to see any animal put into that situation,” Ramsey said. “But, at least, the owner had the sense to see that she couldn’t take care of them and needed help.”
The cats — now at the Humane Society — are being tested for contagious diseases. All have tested negatively for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Many of the cats have upper respiratory infections and parasites, said Lindsee Billings, the shelter operations manager for the Humane Society.
“Hopefully, a significant number of them will be adoptable,” Ramsey said. The healthier cats may be available for adoption as early as Saturday, and the others will be put into foster care until they recover.
Billings took part in the rescue and said the cats were kept in small wire cages in a shed, with three to four cats in each crate. They were not underfed, but were not being adequately treated for diseases.
“The cats probably think that they’re in a mansion right now,” Ramsey said. “Their conditions were not very humane.”
Hudson has custody of an additional eight cats, but said she would relinquish them if the cats at the shelter were found to have contagious diseases.
In addition to the new arrivals, there are around 50 cats at the society that are adoptable. Despite the sudden influx of cats, Ramsey said there will probably be enough resources to take care of all of the cats at the shelter.
“It will cramp us for space,” Ramsey said. “But for the most part, we’ll still be able to handle them.”