‘Way Too Many’ Cats: 35 Cats Rescued, 60 Dead

A woman well-known to Detroit’s animal-rescue community simply needed help caring for the cats, but neighbors said the smell was so horrific they couldn’t enjoy their back yards.

A Roseville animal shelter is caring for 35 cats rescued from a Detroit home, where 60 others were found dead. (Patch file photo)
A Roseville animal shelter is caring for 35 cats rescued from a Detroit home, where 60 others were found dead. (Patch file photo)

More than 100 cats – 60 of them dead – were found Sunday after neighbors complained of a putrid, rotting smell coming from a tidy brick house on Detroit’s east side.

Some 35 flea-ridden kittens were rescued in what Melanie Wittner of Hopeful Heart Rescue in Roseville told WXYZ, Channel 7,are “probably some of the worst cats” she’s seen in a while.

The smell was so bad, neighbors told the television station, that they couldn’t sit outside or let their kids play outside.

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The live cats, malnourished and matted in their own feces, were anemic, “probably from blood loss from the fleas,” veterinarian Dr. Cindy Baumert told the television station.

The cats were found inside a home near Casino and Marne that reportedly belonged to a woman who was well-known to animal rescue groups as someone who was trying to help. An animal-rescue advocate described her to WXYZ as “kind-hearted person” and “very passionate about her animals.”


No one was home when the cats were rescued, and it’s unclear if criminal charges will be filed, the Detroit Free Press reports. Michigan Humane Society’s Cruelty Investigation Department is looking into the incident, Detroit police spokeswoman Jennifer Moreno told the newspaper.

Police are treating the house where the cats were living as they would a hazardous-materials situation because of the amount of animal waste and bugs inside.

Baumert, a veterinarian with Rakestraw Animal Hospital in Detroit, is offering a discount to the Roseville shelter to have the cats tested for disease, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.

Even a dozen felines in a house is “way too many,” Baumert said, but 100 an unusual and unmanageable situation.

“It’s really hard to tell people, ‘You can’t do this,’ ” she told the Free Press.
Lauren Melcher June 24, 2014 at 02:09 PM
Melanie Wittner of Hopeful Hearts rescue and Laura Releasethehounds Lauer of Mutts Of Motown rescue were two of the heroes who helped remove the live cats and are caring for them, among others. This was Heaven Will Wait cat rescue. This is what people who turned their animals over to this woman sent their animals into. If you are going to surrender your pet to a rescue group, ask to see where they will be housed. If they refuse, then move on to another group. We are responsible for our pets. And rescues are responsible for acting as role models for pet guardianship. This woman crossed the line from being part of the solution to being a huge part of the problem. Please always check out where your pets are going if you must rehome them. This is all too common. Mental illness or not, this woman needs held accountable for her actions. We don't let someone with mental illness who murders someone get off scot free, why should she get away with allowing dozens of cats to suffer and die slowly and painfully and then rot away amongst living cats? Rescues had offered help to her for at least three years and tried to notify the authorities and nothing was done. This whole situation could've been prevented if just one animal control officer had taken the time to go follow up on one of the many complaints made against her over the years. This fell through the cracks despite reputable and responsible rescuers making every attempt to get action taken over the years. I hope this does not shape the public view of what animal rescue is- this is what happens when a very sick individual refuses to accept help when offered and keeps taking in more animals when they're already far overextended. Reputable, responsible animal rescue is absolutely nothing like what this sick woman put those cats through.
Andi Welch June 25, 2014 at 07:13 AM
As a cat lover and owner this just breaks my heart.


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