CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Animal Society says it is facing a "cat emergency" as it works to treat nearly 100 stray or hoarded cats.
Fifty-one cats were brought in from what the agency called a "hoarding situation" in North Charleston. The cats were living in a single apartment, according to CAS Director of Operations Pearl Sutton.
"A man and his son brought the cats in after they were told they would be evicted," Sutton said. "The man said his wife had been 'collecting' cats for quite some time and their efforts to get the cats moved from the apartment had failed in the past."
The cats and kittens have a variety of health issues that require immediate treatment because of what they went through.
"Every single cat has severe ear mite infections, a lot of fleas, flea allergies, which are secondary to the fleas," said Dr. Angele Bise, a veterinarian at the animal society. "A majority of the kittens and some of the adult cats have upper respiratory with eye ulcers and things like that."
Other issues include eye problems, a lack of cleanliness, underweight and pregnancy.
"They [the family was] were trying to do the right thing by these cats and kittens but it's so easy to get overwhelmed by cats," Sutton said.
At this point CEO Joe Elmore, of the Charleston Animal Society, said he's not sure if charges will be filed because he said it was a family intervention and no police were involved.
"This is not uncommon, but it is a serious situation," he added.
"Kittens and cats don't do well in situations where there's overcrowding and stress," Sutton said. "So stress and overcrowding can cause cats to have medical conditions."
Another 47 stray cats were brought in on the same day.
Shelter officials say a break room and employee bathrooms have been converted to triage stations to determine which cats are healthy enough to be adopted immediately and which need treatment.
Shelter officials are looking for people to adopt or foster healthy cats to make room for cats in need of health treatment.
"The community has responded to us every time," Elmore said. "We need you to come in and help us find them a home, give them a home to these little cats and kittens."
They are also inviting people to donate to Toby's Fund, the shelter's medical fund. Examinations and initial treatment, including vaccines and other medicines, is expected to cost $150 per cat.