8 min read

Cats Kept By Hoarder Were So Scared They Were Hiding Anywhere They Could Find

They were petrified when rescuers first came to save them — but they've turned into the sweetest, most affectionate cats 😍

The tiny apartment was covered in filth, and 56 cats had been trapped inside for over two years. But their lives were about to change.

Last September, rescuers from ResQ Charitable Trust and Humane Society International (HSI) in India, along with local police, went to investigate a fourth-floor apartment in Pune, India, after receiving complaints from neighbors. Two women had been hoarding cats, and the neighbors had been smelling a terrible odor coming from their apartment.

Cats hiding in microwave
Cats trapped inside the Pune apartment — one is hiding in an old microwave | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

“The stench from the apartment was so strong that … one could smell the odor even at the ground floor,” Neha Panchamiya, founder and president of ResQ Charitable Trust, told The Dodo. “Everyone was completely shocked.”

But nothing prepared the rescue team for what was inside the apartment itself.

Woman standing in hoarder's apartment
One of the rescuers standing in the hoarders' apartment | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

“There was a minimum of 1 to 4 inches of feces everywhere,” Panchamiya said. “One could tell that this apartment had not been cleaned for a very long time because the feces had dried up, and when one would step in it by mistake, the hardened feces surface would break, exposing hundreds of cockroaches. There were insects and pests everywhere.”

When the “owners” fed the cats, they just threw food onto the floor.

Dirty interior of hoarders' apartment
ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

To make matters worse, the apartment had no air vents or open windows. “Our team had to go out and breathe fresh air because we were unable to cope with the stench of the place,” Panchamiya said.

Cat sitting on top of shelf
A cat sitting on top of a shelf in the dirty apartment | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

The cats had tried to seek refuge — they’d hidden away in cupboards and on top of shelves and the fridge. A couple cats even tucked themselves inside an old microwave. But there weren’t many places for them to go. “They were basically hiding on anything that was above the ground,” Panchamiya said.

Rescuers moving the cats out of the apartment
The rescue team working to get the cats out of the apartment | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

The severity of the situation made the rescue team even more determined to get the cats out. Over the course of nine hours, everyone worked together to catch all of the cats and move them to a cattery run by ResQ Charitable Trust, where they’d also be examined by a vet team. Sadly, seven of the cats didn’t make it, but the vets worked hard to help the others get healthy.

Woman loading kitten into carrier
One of the rescuers placing a kitten into a transport crate | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

At first, some of the cats weren’t sure what to do with all the space inside the cattery, or what to do with the toys and cat beds they now had.

Rescuers loading crates of cats onto a truck
A few of the rescues being transported to the cattery | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

“They were initially scared because they had not seen so much space before,” Panchamiya said. “There was this one cat, Spidey … who would just sit on the topmost section of the cattery and not come down.”

Cat hiding on top of platform
One of the rescued cats sitting at the top of the cattery | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

It took Spidey two months to finally come down from his perch, but he eventually started to trust his caretakers and even began to seek out attention.

Cats inside a cattery
The rescued cats are now living in a clean, safe place. | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

An orange and white cat named Scarlet also had an amazing transformation.

“She was in a really bad condition when she first came to us,” Panchamiya said. “Her fur was matted badly and she was malnourished. Behavior-wise, she was skittish. But today, she will actively come towards you to initiate play.”

Closeup of orange kitty
Scarlet, one of the cats who had an amazing transformation | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

A senior named Dunhill is another cat who drastically changed after being rescued.

“To begin with, she was feral and did not like attention or being touched,” Panchamiya said. “But now, when you are sitting on the floor, she will come to you and ask to be pet.”

Woman touching noses with a cat
A caregiver giving one of the rescued cats some attention | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

Nearly all of the cats are friendly now, which Panchamiya thinks is remarkable, considering what they went through. “These animals are so adaptable it is mind-boggling,” she said. “It is amazing how forgiving these animals are of humans. They are just so trusting and tolerant.”

Woman cuddling cat
A caregiver cuddling one of the rescued cats | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

While the rescuers were legally able to remove the cats from the apartment back in September, they had to wait on court permission before they could rehome them — but they finally got this permission this week.

Little boy petting cats
A little boy visiting the cats at the cattery | ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

“In a country like ours, it is not so often that you get such a positive response from the courts towards the animals,” Panchamiya said. “The fact that the animals have been the ultimate beneficiary in this case is truly remarkable.”

Now the team is concentrating on finding the perfect homes for these cats, preferably in India.

Woman petting cat on her lap
ResQ Charitable Trust/HSI India

“We are now hoping that these cats are able to find their forever homes and get to experience love and care,” Panchamiya said. “For most of us, this rescue experience has by far been an overwhelming one, and we are hoping that all these beautiful felines find a home.”

To help care for these rescued cats while they wait for their forever homes, you can make a donation to ResQ Charitable Trust.