SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Dozens of cats were up for adoption as of Monday, after being discovered living in crowded, unsanitary conditions.
A total of 138 cats were found inside a two-bedroom apartment in Lakeside with many sent to nearby shelters and the majority of them ending up at the County's Bonita shelter.
Officials there say it's been difficult trying to find space for all of them.
"It’s significantly put a strain on our inventory,” said the Bonita shelter’s Deputy Director Laura Ward.
The cats were found after sheriff's deputies did a welfare check.
"There was a lot of debris inside the residence and so it was difficult to isolate the specific number of cats in there,” said Ward. “Visually, the cats were running everywhere."
Of the 138 cats, two were already dead, 40 had to be euthanized, 12 were so small they had to be sent to an outside rescue and the rest were split between the County’s shelters in Carlsbad and Bonita.
"We currently have 82 cats in our custody," said Ward.
A lot of the cats hide when humans are present, because they have not been socialized.
They are all black cats and are still being evaluated. Some have behavioral issues and others have significant health issues
“Some of the cats are blind and that is a genetic result of the inbreeding that happens," said Ward.
Ward also says they're all deserving of good homes and she's hoping many will be adopted out to make room for others in need of care.
"We are encouraging the public to not trap or capture feral cats for a couple weeks, give us a chance to get this inventory under control,” said Ward.
As for what led to the hoarding of cats, owner, Grant Israel told investigators it started with one cat several years ago and got out of control because that cat wasn't fixed.
Israel isn't facing charges because he willingly gave up the cats and in fact, was able to keep six.
News 8 went to his home Monday, but no one answered the door.
Off camera, neighbors said they had no idea just how big the problem was.
Animal control officials say there’s a lesson to be learned.
"Spaying and neutering is critical when you own a cat or a dog,” said Ward.
Click here for information on adopting the cats.