CHESTERTOWN - Melissa Brewer has added the care of 30 or more cats to her list of daily responsibilities, which includes driving from Chestertown to Troy for her job. Brewer, along with her parents Lorna and Bob and family friends Florence and Sarah Converse have been caring for the clan of cats after they were abandoned in a Chestertown home in April.
A 97-year-old Chestertown man was owner of the cats until health complications moved him to a nursing home.
"He loved his cats and would like to see them taken care of properly," said Brewer.
After years of not spaying and neutering the cats, the population grew out of control and the women caring for them find more families in the vacant house each day.
"It was not intentional, but the cat population just got out of hand," said Brewer.
Once the women began pulling the cats out of the house they began making trips to Albany and Ballston Spa to spay and neuter the cats at vet clinics. Due to the lack of vacancies in shelters in the area, however, the cats have been returning to their house in Chestertown or to the Brewer and Converse homes.
In the beginning, the women were bottle feeding the kittens every two hours and despite Florence's allergies, giving them all the love attention they could afford.
"We didn't think all of them were going to survive," said Converse. "But, we haven't lost one yet."
Lorna and Bob Brewer's garage is now full of cages that overflow to their front porch. Cat food is provided in every corner of their home and the cats are now temporary parts of the Brewer family until they find their forever homes. Many of the cats were not tame when rescued and are beginning to acclimate to human contact.
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Brewer estimates that they have invested over $800 in vet and care costs out of their own pockets.
"We are trying to do the right things by the animals," she said. "We want the epidemic to end here."
They have already placed roughly 15 kittens and three adult cats. They hope to place all the rescued cats with families. All adoptable cats will be spayed or neutered and up to date on shots and flea and worm medication.
"We don't want these cats to end up in a no-kill shelter because all they have known their whole lives is freedom," said Brewer. "We want to see them happy with families or on farms."
The cats are ready for adoption now. Interested parties should call the Brewer family at 494-2830 or the Converse family at 494-2163.