APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – 124 cats were surrendered to the Fox Valley Humane Association on Friday, the most the shelter has ever received at once.

“We heard that we may be dealing with a hoarding situation, about 50 cats we were told,” Fox Valley Humane Association animal care manager Danielle Weninger said.

Weninger said that the shelter was tipped off by law enforcement that they may need to assist with the surrender on Friday, but that the number of cats was severely underestimated as so many were hiding in the home during the initial check on Thursday by law enforcement.

There are still several cats left at the property that were not able to be grabbed by the crew during the three-hour operation.

“We’re going to try to work something out so we can get them, but we also need to try to figure out the current housing situation that we have here so we’re trying to work on something,” she said.

The cats are mostly healthy, a few are dealing with respiratory illnesses but are on antibiotics to treat that. Beyond that, the cats will be spayed and neutered before being being put up for adoption; for some that could be as early as Tuesday morning.

“Fixing” your cats is the best way to prevent hoarding and stray animal situations, according to Weninger.

“A year or two after the owner had the cats, it started getting pretty out of hand and snowballed from there,” she said. “We’re just trying to make the best with what we have, and the space we have too.”

Normally, the shelter has enough room to house 30 cats, so extra space has been set up to accommodate the additional residents.

“We are using our visiting rooms that we usually have for adoption meets,” Weninger said. “We’re going to have to work around that, but luckily with some of the cats, we are trying to get them adoption-ready, so this week some of them could get out of here and hopefully free up some space for us.”

More space is needed, and more time is, too.

“When I heard how many there were, I was like, ‘Ooh, that’s quite a bit!’” Fox Valley Humane Association caretaker Escha Wruck said. “It’s been a lot of work, obviously there’s a lot more, so I’m doing the duties that I usually do, but it takes a little longer sometimes.”

Despite the extra hours the 30 staff members are putting in, Weninger said that the situation is “much better than what we imagined.”

“We’re just very surprised by this,” she said. “We’ve dealt with other hoarding cases, where the cats’ behaviors were very different from what we’re seeing now. So we got very lucky with the situation.”

The cats, unlike most in hoarding cases, according to Weninger, are very friendly. They immediately walked over to greet her and I as we entered the room. After a minute, they were clawing us for attention, then climbed onto our shoulders. One even jumped off my shoulders and onto my camera!

“Are you going to stay up there?” she asked the cat on her shoulders as we were about to leave the room.

And what would she say to families looking to adopt these affectionate felines?

“Good luck. And I hope you like a parrot,” she said with a laugh, referencing the cat perched on her shoulder.

The shelter needs more non-clumping litter, small-wall litter boxes, wet food for adults or kittens and dry kitten food. Monetary donations can be made on the shelter’s website.