BUTTE — Dewey, an adorable black cat, attempted to lift his head from a blanket but was still too groggy.
The feline is one of about 50 cats spayed and neutered on Wednesday at the Butte animal shelter after being rescued from a hoarder’s house earlier this month.
Some of the animals, like Dewey, are friendly. While others were too traumatized by the horrific living conditions and are wild, but still sweet.
Their health has grown leaps and bounds since they were taken from a Delaware Street home described as one of the worst cat hoarding cases in Butte history. Nearly 100 cats dead and alive were found in the house, which was covered in feces. Some of the animals had to be put down due to severe illness.
“They are looking very good and getting healthy. They’re still a little stinky yet,” said Dr, Diana Scollard, the veterinarian who spent most of the day fixing the cats. “They’re in pretty good shape.”
The cats are not available for adoption yet. The procedures on Wednesday are one step in preparing them for new homes.
Scollard and her technician, Terri Gabel, traveled to the Butte shelter as part of the Montana Spay/Neuter Task Force, which funded the operations.
“It went excellent,” she said after the marathon of procedures while the animals recovered.
Each of the cats rested next to cards denoting their names and other information.
“Everyone gets a name,” said Jacki Casagranda, supervisor at the Butte-Silver Bow Animal Shelter, as she watched over Wyoming and Viola.
Casagranda is extremely pleased with the assistance.
“We’re just so thankful. Financially, it’s huge,” she said.
The man accused of hoarding the animals has yet to appear on seven felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty.
Douglas Dean Billman, 54, may be forced to reimburse the county for veterinary care and housing of all the living cats rescued from his rental home. He is free on $17,000 bond.
Prosecutors say Billman confined the cats in a cruel manner, failed to meet general care needs and ultimately abandoned the animals at the home. Although Billman listed the Delaware Street house as his legal address at one point, neighbors said they hadn’t seen him for at least a month.
Officials dressed in hazardous-materials suits entered the home after neighbors complained about the condition of the house. It was deemed an emergency after officials smelled a horrible odor coming from the home and saw cats milling around.