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Volunteers care for 250 cats rescued from breeder

BIRMINGHAM (AP) - Humane workers and volunteers are trying to clean and care for about 250 Persian and Himalayan cats they say were taken from a breeder in Blount County, and an official said Tuesday the cost of the operation likely will exceed $10,000.

The woman who owned the purebred cats became overwhelmed after the death of her husband in 2004 and failed to care for the animals properly, said Terra Cotromano, director of TEARS, an animal welfare group.

The result was a scene that Cotromano described as shocking: As many as seven long-haired cats living in small wire cages with clumps of fur, intestinal parasites, and runny eyes and noses.

"Every cat is matted and in poor condition. They're all bad; it's just a matter of how bad," she said.

The owner of the cats, Elizabeth Currey, said she had only 125 cats and denied that any needed to be saved. Currey, 66, said she fed and watered the cats and didn't have any kittens because she separated them in cages by gender.

"They're making a mountain out of a mole hill," Currey said. "I gave them away. They were not rescued."

Currey said her husband cared for the cats before his death, and she did her best afterward.

A pet shop owner alerted authorities after going to the breeder's home before Christmas in search of kittens and finding deplorable conditions, said Cotromano. The shop owner took more than 100 of the cats and veterinarians have taken others, leaving about 50 with TEARS.

Cotromano said all the cats need grooming, deworming, vaccinations and tests for feline leukemia and feline AIDS. The cost of caring for the animals will probably exceed $10,000, she said, and adopting families are being asked to give $100 to help cover the bills.

All the cats also will be spayed or neutered, she said, to reduce their value to breeders.

"We are going through the process of screening applicants who are interested in adopting the cats," she said.


Information from: The Birmingham News

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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