Employees of the veterinary hospital in Centuria, Wis., made a distressing discovery on Tuesday after someone left nearly two dozen cats inside bins filled with urine and feces at their door.
Under the cover of darkness, someone left four bins with holes and notes left on top. Inside, there were 22 cats that are all around the same age -- and remarkably, they're all healthy and will soon be ready for adoption.
"We have multiple colors -- gray, blacks, short hairs, short gray and white," said Mary Bruckner.
While it's not unusual for the Arnell Memorial Humane Society in Amery, Wis., to have a number of cats looking for new homes, officials say it is disturbing to get so many from one single owner.
"It's pretty sad," Bruckner said. "People must be pretty desperate to have to do something to that degree."
That's an assessment Dr. Mark Nelson couldn't help but agree with after reading the note left with the cats, which read, "Kittens need homes, nice kittens, scared."
"Whoever had them was overwhelmed with the numbers and decided they needed to find new homes for them," he said.
Nelson opened the clinic in 1975, and though it's happened before, he said this is the largest number of animals that have ever been abandoned at his business.
"The manner they went about to do that was inappropriate," Nelson told FOX 9 News.
It's also illegal to simply abandon animals, but again -- it's not the first time. Over the summer, someone left 29 cats in front of the Humane Society in Amery. Now, Nelson wonders if the same owners are behind both.
"It tells me these people are hoarders," he said. "They mean well. They are taking good care of these animals, but when they are left intact, they breed and pretty soon, they have an overwhelming number of animals."
Now, Nelson hopes the owner has learned and won't leave litters behind again.
"We are hoping they get the message that they can't be doing this in the future," he said. "They are going to have to be responsible pet owners and spay and neuter the animals because it's going to be very difficult to find homes for all these cats."
Still, the cats are healthy and 17 are currently available at the Humane Society in Amery, but workers admit finding homes for them could be challenging.
"Kittens kind of fly out the door from the cute factor, and these are a year-under -- but they look like adult cats," explained Bruckner. "So, they have a harder time getting out. It would be great for a person looking for another cat or a first cat to come get one."
Anyone interested in adopting one of the cats can call either the Arnell Memorial Humane Society at 715-268-7387 or Interstate Veterinary Hospital at 715-646-2312.
So, how does someone end up with so many cats? Veterinarians say it's pretty easy. All you need are a few cats that aren't fixed and a couple of litters before things get out of control.