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Dozens of dropped-off cats run loose around Zaring Mill

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By Todd Martin

Ann Kalmey just can’t stand to see any more lost animals wandering around, or worse, on Zaring Mill Road.

“If these cats could talk, they’d say, ‘We just want to go home,’” she said. “These are lap cats, not wild cats or outside cats, but lap cats.”

Kalmey is referring to the latest group of cats to be dumped near her home, out in the country.

Kalmey said she and her neighbors found a large group of cats in a field near a brush pile to be burned by another farmer.

“They said there were 25 or 30 cats around,” she said. “They were up in the trees, in the pile and just wandering around. There were even four or five dead ones.

“Then there was a beat-up cage that was over to the side. It wasn’t big enough for all the cats, but it was the only one around. We don’t know if they just tossed it out or what.”

After Kalmey’s neighbor contacted the Shelby County Animal Shelter, they found out the shelter can’t come out and pick up cats.

“We’d be just overrun,” said Rusty Newton, Deputy Judge-Executive and Animal Control Director for the shelter. “But people can bring them in, and if they contact us, we can provide live-traps for them to use. We’ve had four brought in so far from out on Zaring Mill Road."

Kalmey has also caught four cats, and she had turned in one to the Humane Society.

The other three she’s keeping at her house, for now.

She got a cage donated from the Shelby County Humane Society and pieces to fix it donated from Ace Hardware and Lowe’s.

As a former volunteer with the Humane Society, Kalmey also has enlisted their help to make sure the cats are up-to-date on shots, spayed and neutered and dewormed.

Barbara Zekausky, the CEO/CFO of the Shelby County Humane Society, said Kalmey is “fostering” the cats for them.

But, other than nourishment, these cats haven’t had too many problems. Most have even been spayed and neutered.

“These cats were somebody’s pets,” she said. “When we’ve caught them, they just go nuts for about a half-an-hour, but by the time I get them back here [to the house], they’re purring and as friendly as they can be.”

This isn’t the first time Kalmey has run across the problem of pets being dropped in the country.

“I think, a lot of times, people think they’re doing right by the animals, making it better for them by dropping them off on a farm or out in the country,” she said.

“What they don’t understand is that farms have their own animals, dogs and cats, that are very territorial, and they’ll run new ones off, and these cats just aren’t able to live in the wild.

"And coyotes are a real big problem out here and foxes, you can see them running up and down the road.”

Zekausky agreed. “I think Ann’s definitely right, people think they’re doing something good," she said.

“But it’s almost a death sentence. A lot are killed because they never leave the road, thinking their people are coming back. Raccoons and coyotes are always looking for something small like that. Those animals would be better off if they ended up in an animal care facility somewhere, even if they were euthanatized. That’s just a little prick, but it’s much better than days without food or water.”

Kalmey is doing the best she can to make sure these cats get the nourishment and help they need, but above all she wants to make sure they get a home.

Kalmey knows how backed up and crowded both the Animal Shelter and Humane Society are, that’s why she’s going to keep the rest of the cats she catches until she can find a home.

“I’ll make sure every cat is taken care of and healthy,” she said. “But more than anything I want to make sure they have a home. These cats just want to be loved.”

Zekausky said the spring is the worst time for people dropping off animals.

“I know we have one of the cats here, and there are four at the Animal Shelter, and Ann is taking care of some,” she said. “Really, we could all use some help with these great animals.”

If you’d like to adopt a cat or help Kalmey with the cats, call The Sentinel-News, 633-2526, or Humane Society, 633-4033.