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Westmoreland

Humane Society seized 21 part-lynx cats from Murrysville hoarder

| Friday, March 30, 2018, 2:42 p.m.
Chaplin, Humane Society of Westmoreland County
Chaplin, Humane Society of Westmoreland County

Some of the latest adoptable kitties at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County shelter come with curled-under ears and an unfortunate backstory.

About a half-dozen Bengal-lynx mixes are up for adoption at the Hempfield shelter as a result of an alleged hoarder with a preference for exotic animals, who kept 21 of the cats along with snakes, lizards and tarantulas in his Murrysville home, Humane Officer Megan Fritz said.

“It was probably the worst hoarding situation I've ever seen,” Fritz said. “There were no litter boxes, and 30 to 50 aquariums. There were lots of deceased exotics — dead snakes, bearded dragons, tarantulas and mice — feeder mice. ... I spent two weeks in February trapping and pulling (the cats) out of the house.”

The owner of the animals had to go into a nursing home and asked a neighbor to check in on his pets; the neighbor made one visit and called the Humane Society for help.

No charges were brought against the owner, who agreed to give up all his animals except for two older dogs, who were placed at the house where he will go if and when he is released from the nursing home. Fritz said she didn't call attention to the animals' seizure at the time because the owner was unable to take care of them because of his failing health and was voluntarily giving them up.

Bengals are a domestic cat bred to look like more exotic leopards or ocelots; lynxes are a family of exotic, sometimes wild cats that can have curled or tufted ears. The 21 cats taken from the Murrysville house all appeared to have the curled ears of a lynx, the spots of a Bengal and the gray coloring of domestic tabbies, Fritz said, so it was hard to tell exactly what proportions of each ancestor they had.

Unfortunately, some were too undersocialized to safely put up for adoption — several hurt the Humane Society workers with bites or claws — and five had to be euthanized, said Fritz, who had a Highland Lynx of her own that she adopted from an earlier exotic-animal seizure. The rest were listed on the website and some have already been adopted, she said.

The animals up for adoption tended to be scared or skittish around people but not aggressive; the listing for Chaplin, the “Shelter pet of the week” in Friday's Tribune-Review, says “he is extremely shy and would probably do best in a quiet home environment without children.”

Fritz said lynx mixes tend to be larger than most domestic cats, though smaller than extra-large domestic breeds like Maine coons. The cats seized ranged from 5 to 17 pounds and were between four months and 10 years old. The Humane Society also took in one bearded dragon and several anole lizards.

The Humane Society of Westmoreland County lists its adoptable animals online through Petfinder . The cost of adopting a cat is $70.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6660, msantoni@tribweb.com or via Twitter @msantoni.

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