Cat rescue group under investigation
by Rachael Brown
More than a dozen skinny cats peered out the window of a former store at 120 Old Gadsden Hwy. in Anniston Friday afternoon. Several black and white kittens had runny eyes. Containers of cat litter and cleaning supplies sat on a shelf inside, but food and water for the felines were not visible.

The conditions caused a local nonprofit cat rescue group called The Mad Cattery to be under the scrutiny of Calhoun County and Anniston Animal Control, according to officials with the agencies.

Shannon Shanks, director of Calhoun County Animal Control, said the Mad Cattery was still under investigation Friday for neglect. Animal control visited the building Thursday afternoon and spoke to two of the women that formed the rescue group, she said.

“It was unsanitary. The cats are in various stages of upper respiratory infections. They have no food and no water,” Shanks said.

Shanks said the cats have been in the building for almost a month, but none of the animals were taken during animal control’s visit Thursday afternoon.

Five women started The Mad Cattery in Anniston around January, according to Alaine Hoffman, one of the organization’s members.

The group rescues cats and kittens from shelters and also takes in abandoned and feral felines, she said. Hoffman said last month the organization rented the building on Old Gadsden Highway to provide a space for the cats and encourage more adoptions.

Hoffman said the building hasn’t opened because many of the cats inside were suffering from infections and are on medication.

Hoffman said she got a call Thursday afternoon from a law enforcement officer asking her to come to the group’s building on Old Gadsden Highway, which is home to more than 40 cats.

When she arrived, Hoffman said, she found several police cars and animal control officers waiting for her.

“They asked me why I was selling cats,” she said.

Hoffman said the only money The Mad Cattery asks for is a donation when a cat is adopted.

Animal control asked Hoffman why the cats had runny eyes, why the building smelled and why there was no water in the animals’ bowls, the woman said.

“They came out of high-kill shelters, they’re all sick. I have medicine right here,” she said pointing to a bag in her car.

Hoffman also said the animals had food and water when she left the previous night around 7, but they must have finished it all before she arrived that afternoon. She said the cats have only been in the building since Monday.

Attempts to reach Tina Horn, president of rescue group, by phone on Friday were not successful.

Horn resigned Thursday afternoon, according to a post Thursday on The Mad Cattery’s Facebook page.

The post was written in the format of a letter to the group’s supporters and had Horn’s name at the bottom. It said she was resigning because of “different goals, ideas and plans for the group.”

“There are things that are being done I do not agree with and cannot be apart of,” the post said.

A neighboring business owner, who declined to give his name, said his customers have complained about the smell in his business for the last three weeks.

“There’s fleas on all the windows over there,” he said.

The man said he’s seen people come to the building to check on the cats, but not every day.

“You can’t leave them like that. They’re just running around,” the business owner said.

Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.

© 2013