Hoarded Cat in a Crowd Singled Out by Loving Family

Second chance comes thanks to Emergency Relief grant

cat on bedThe first couple of years of Charlie’s life were crowded. After all, his small home in Aroostook County, Maine, was chock-full of other cats — 64, to be exact.

Charlie’s owners surely had the best of intentions, and must have recognized they had too many cats. They surrendered Charlie and his housemates voluntarily to Maine’s Animal Welfare Program in June, 2014.

The state doesn’t have any shelters of its own, so it relies on other shelters and rescues for help with emergency situations. This was one of those times.

Rescuing hoarded cats stretches local group’s resources

The Greater Androscoggin Humane Society (GAHS) helped to transport the cats to shelters around the state. It agreed to take Charlie and 40 of his feline friends to its own shelter in Lewiston, Maine.

Given their former environment, Charlie and housemates needed help. Many of them had chronic upper respiratory issues, and all of them needed spay/neuter surgeries and microchips. The majority of the cats were feral, or fearful of humans.

GAHS also had to care for 7 litters of kittens that were born after the rescue. The cost to save these cats was quickly adding up.

“A lot of times when we agree to take in state animals, the state will help, but not with everything,” said Steven Dostie, GAHS executive director.

Grant makes it possible to save cats’ lives

PetSmart Charities® gave GAHS an Emergency Relief grant worth nearly $6,000 to pay for blood work, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgeries, microchips and other medical needs.

“The costs to care for these cats would have strained us without the grant. We can’t budget for all cases like this, so the Emergency Relief grant made sure there were no cats that weren’t cared for. It also helped with pregnant cats who went into foster care,” Steven said.

Because of their many medical needs and fearful behavior, it took these cats longer than usual to be ready for adoption. Charlie, in particular, was extremely shy. The shelter’s staff thought it might take a while for the right family to come along and adopt him.

Charlie picks his perfect family

That’s when Diana Murphy and her family came in. Their beloved Lab Maggie Mae passed away in June, and the family was having a hard time coping.

In July, Diana thought it would be a good idea to take her daughter, Alexa, 12 to GAHS to walk some dogs.

When they got to the shelter, they noticed the cat section first. They stopped in just to say hello.

Alexa spotted Charlie right away. He noticed Alexa, too, because he drifted right to her.

“I could see the shelter staff peering through the window, and they said ‘wow he’s never taken to anyone like that,’” Diana said.

Challenge accepted

Alexa fell in love. The Murphys never walked dogs that day. Instead, they adopted Charlie.

Luckily, Charlie didn’t have any of the medical issues many of the other cats had. In his case, his timid behavior was the obstacle.

“GAHS told us exactly what to expect with Charlie,” Diana said. “I thought of it as a challenge. I wanted to save him.”

Of course, Diana checked with her husband first. He was just as excited as the rest of the family.

Cat’s kitten side comes out at home

Diana knew they had to introduce Charlie to his new home slowly, so they kept him in Alexa’s room at first. He was shy for a few days, and then he started to venture into other parts of the house.

It didn’t take long for Charlie to warm up to Diana’s son Kevin, 15. “He has a way with animals. They just love him,” Diana said of her son.

Soon enough, Charlie was acting like he’d been there for years. He adapted to his new routine, and he’s not afraid to tell Diana when it’s time for breakfast or dinner.

Charlie also loves to play, and he acts like he’s still a kitten. “I call him Zippy,” Diana said.

Charlie wasn’t the only 4-legged family member in the Murphy household. He joined another cat, George, who was also adopted from GAHS.

It took George a few days to warm up to Charlie, but Diana knew it wouldn’t be a problem because George used to live with other cats.

Now, George hangs out while Charlie romps around.

It’s not always playtime for Charlie, though. His other favorite thing to do is to cuddle with Alexa on the couch.

Now that Charlie’s house is less crowded, his heart is full.

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