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51 cats rescued from Thief River Falls home

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. - The Humane Society here said it was called to deal with a small house filled with 51 cats that took a week to catch.

Dawn Williamson, operations manager for the Pennington County Humane Society, said police called her Nov. 12 about an elderly woman whose house was a cat-made mess.

"She had some medical issues," Williamson said of the woman. "She was treated at the hospital for a while."

The house was condemned and the woman, who owns it, is being helped by social services to find another residence, Williamson said.

She and other Humane Society volunteers had to don respirators because of the "bad air" in the house filled with cat feces.

"It was not livable," she said. "It was tragic to have cats in there and even more tragic to have a human."

The rescuers found about 24 cats that first day, then set live traps and kept catching more all last week.

"I think we got the last ones out on Friday," Williamson said. "The elderly woman didn't even realize she had that many cats in the house. It's a very small house. She was actually surprised when we had 30-some cats."

"They are in surprisingly good health," Williamson said of all the cats. "Most of them are borderline obese. We have a couple doing some sneezing, a couple with eye issues. All of them are friendly."

The oldest are eight or nine years old, the youngest about four months old, and none had been spayed or neutered, she said.

Williamson said she is hoping for people to step up and adopt the cats.

"We are licensed for 60 cats and now we have over 100 cats in our facility. If we can't get them placed in a timely manner, we might have to go to the last resort of euthanizing some cats. I really hate to do that to healthy cats when there is nothing wrong with them, just that there are too many."

The Humane Society's shelter also has 20 dogs as of Monday; it has room for 27.

The Society will ask only for a donation. Those adopting cats must have a good place to keep them and be at least 21.

"I would much rather adopt one out for little money versus having to put a healthy cat to sleep," she said.

Call Williamson at (218) 681-8045 or visit