Farmington HillsApril 23, 2014
Nearly 150 cats removed from local woman’s home
By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer
Shelter manager Tamara Murawski holds a cat April 16 at the Animal Welfare Society of Southeastern Michigan in Madison Heights. The shelter is housing cats that a Farmington Hills woman hoarded; they are available for adoption.
FARMINGTON HILLS — Dozens of cats and kittens were still in need of homes at press time after authorities were notified that a Farmington Hills woman kept 145 of them in her house.
The woman, whose name was not released, kept the animals after originally taking in two stray, pregnant cats, according to Susan Edwards, president of the Animal Welfare Society (AWS) of Southeastern Michigan. AWS removed the animals, along with several others from the home.
“She wasn’t really a hoarder,” Edwards said April 16 inside her Madison Heights-based shelter. “She never had cats before; she was just doing a good deed, and … they kept growing and growing.”
She added that the house and animals were well cared for.
“When we first walked in, it was kind of amazing, really. They were so friendly,” she said. “There were cats and kittens everywhere, and the house was clean — it just smelled like cat urine. But there were tons of toys and structures; it was like a cat house. The last two years, the cats have took her life over. That is all she did … take care of the cats.”
The woman, whom Edwards described as well-off, reportedly tried to give the animals to a local humane society, but because there was not a guarantee that they would not be put down, she did not turn them over.
Edwards said for the past two years, the woman spent $6,000 on veterinarian bills. A veterinarian even limited her visits to two times per month.
After a while, she could no longer take care of them, and her friend contacted the AWS, a no-kill shelter, to assist her. Edwards said a neighbor also notified authorities.
Due to the city’s domestic animal limit of three cats and three dogs per household, the woman was fined by the Zoning and Code Enforcement Division, which is responsible for the enforcement of the zoning ordinance, and other matters of city code that relate to property.
Edward Gardiner, director of Planning and Community Development, said his department received a complaint from the county animal control, investigated and took action.
“If we have just cause to determine there is a violation, we typically send out a notice to the person letting them know that there is a possible violation and it needs to be abated,” he said. “If it isn’t abated, then we can take further action by writing a court summons. It is my understanding that the situation has been abated. We are charged to uphold those ordinances, and we do that through our zoning and code-enforcement divisions.”
Gardiner said the 47th District Court fined her $50 for the civil offense.
According to the city’s website, www.ci.farmington-hills.mi.us/, if necessary, the Zoning Division brings the violators to court for a hearing before a magistrate or a judge.
Edwards said on March 21, 36 kittens, 8-9 weeks old, were taken out of the woman’s house, and quite a few have already been adopted. Others were taken out at various times.
Edwards said the other kittens and cats at the shelter are all ready for adoption.
“They really are beautiful and friendly and well-cared for,” she said. “They all love to just be in piles together.”
On April 14, the group retrieved the last 20 cats — after a deadline extended to April 15 — and the last few are scheduled to be spayed and neutered, she said.
Edwards said the woman is having a hard time now because all of the cats are gone.
“She’s spent two years caring and cleaning for them,” Edwards said.
She also said the story has built steam around the community, and a lot of times, customers would come in and ask to “see the cats from the Farmington Hills house,” and she hopes many more will come in to donate or adopt.
“The main thing right now is we are asking for donations,” she said. “It has taken a lot more of our food and litter and staff. This is a lot of cats to care for that we’re not normally used to.”
The shelter originally had 30 cats and now has more than 100.
“We started the project and wanted to finish it,” she said.
Oak Park resident Kristin Baxmann and her daughter walked up and down the shelter in hopes of being chosen by one of the cats or kittens April 16.
“I hope I’m one of the lucky ones that get one, but I have to clear it with my husband first,” she said with a laugh.
Baxmann then said with a little tremble in her voice that after losing a cat recently, she hopes that one of the animals chooses her.
“I hope they all find forever homes, that is for sure. I’m here to be chosen,” she said. “I don’t want to choose a pet; you just know,” she said with a few tears streaming down her face. “I wasn’t going to cry today. They are tears of joy.”
The adoption rates are $60 per cat, or $85 for two; or $85 for one kitten or $115 for two.
For more information, or to adopt the animals, go to www.animal welfaresociety.net/, or call (248) 548-1150.