Adoption of seized cats focus of event

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The SPCA will host an “adopt-a-thon” Saturday at the former Cortlandville Fire Station on Route 281 for the approximately 120 cats still being cared for that were seized from a Cortland property on Sept. 1.
SPCA Executive Director Kathy Gilleran said she hopes the event will bring more of the public into contact with the animals.
“We’re going to close here (the regular shelter on McLean Road), and bring all of our operations there,” to “Kitty City,” Gilleran said.
More than 100 of the cats have been placed in new homes, Yvette Moore, a technician with CNY Spay and Neuter, which is assisting in the adoption process, said this morning.
About six or seven cats a day are adopted, and hopefuls must complete the standard application process, which Gilleran said includes background checks. The process takes about 24 hours to complete.
The SPCA is caring for the cats as criminal proceedings are in progress against the owners of the cats, Purr Fect World.
Purr Fect World and its officers, Eugenia Cute, 51, of Cortland, and Lisa Alderman, 45, of Liverpool, were charged with 49 counts of failure to provide proper food and water to a harbored animal, an unclassified misdemeanor. Officials found 279 animals living in the clinic and the adjacent house that is owned by Purr Fect World at 7 Wheeler Ave., and about 240 remained after the very sick or overly aggressive cats were euthanized.
Gilleran said two cats of 16 cats infected with feline leukemia have been adopted out, and the animals are responding well in their new homes, which must be free of other pets in order to help prevent the spread of the deadly disease. One cat infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus has also been adopted into a similar situation, Gilleran said.
“I hear they are doing very well. They’re running around, there’s no diarrhea, no runny nose. They’re still FLV positive, but the symptoms they were displaying in the fire station have disappeared,” Gilleran said.
The SPCA has heard that all of the cats seem to be adjusting well to their new homes, Gilleran said.
“They’re not hiding in corners, they’re not hiding under the bed. It just reinforces that we’re doing the right thing,” Gilleran said.
The “poster cat” for the SPCA, a banged-up, leukemia-positive cat named Mickey Bo, has yet to be adopted and is in foster care following a tooth extraction and other medical complications, Gilleran said. His condition seems to be improving now that he has been removed from the close-confines of the fire station, Gilleran added.
Shelter Director Eden Avery said she hopes all of the cats will be adopted out by Christmas. Gilleran is not as optimistic, although she is well aware of the urgency.
“Our policy here is, we do not euthanize for space,” Gilleran said. “So to not offer those guys over there (at Kitty City) the same opportunity, just does not feel good to me. And hopefully, we won’t be put in that situation.”
An Oct. 26 agreement between the city of Cortland and Purr Fect World required that the not-for-profit organization would supply a total of $46,000 for the past and future care of the animals while retaining ownership until the criminal case against the organization is resolved.
Purr Fect World supplied a bond for $32,000 that’s being held in an interest-bearing escrow account until the criminal case is resolved. At that point, if the matter is resolved in favor of Purr Fect World, the organization can reclaim that money.
If it is resolved in favor of the city, then the city will claim the money in order to cover the costs that were incurred by the city throughout this matter. Another $14,000 was given over by Purr Fect World to the SPCA for the ongoing care of the animals. That money is accessible by the SPCA until the last cat has left its custody.
The city had spent over $70,000 caring for the cats before the agreement was reached. Purr Fect World was due to appear in court Wednesday to negotiate for the projected costs of caring for the animals for the next 30 days, but the appointment was rescheduled for Tuesday.
Purr Fect World is also paying to spay or neuter about 104 cats, and Avery said 20 cats have been spayed and all 29 of the neuters have been completed. The SPCA has offered a reduced fee of $10 to those who wish to adopt the Wheeler Avenue cats.