LEDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – There's a cat emergency in New Jersey.
More than 170 felines were rescued this week from horrible living conditions in Sussex County.
As CBS2's Cindy Hsu reports, the cats are safe and now in need of forever homes.
The animals were found roaming inside and outside a rural home, which had no electricity or running water.
An emergency team from St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center rescued the 172 cats. They're now recovering at two of St. Hubert's shelters in Morris County.
The elderly homeowner will not be charged in the case.
"It's an unfortunate circumstance where the original caretaker had passed away a year or two ago and this gentleman was doing his best to care for the animals with food and water," said Kathleen Schatzmann, of St. Hubert's.
She said the owner loved the cats and finally asked for help.
"There's always an embarrassment factor, an issue of people judging for what has become this overwhelming number of cats on the property," she said.
Many of the cats had parasites, fleas and were underweight. But they're slowly recovering with medical care, and they're all being spayed and neutered.
"So the major concerns we have in these big hoarding cases with large numbers of animals of diseases we can't fix and then make the animals unadoptable. We found none of those diseases," said Karen Dashfield, of St. Hubert's.
Adoptions have already started. So far, they've placed eight outdoor cats in barn homes and starting this weekend, they'll find new homes for the indoor cats.
This was the largest cat rescue in the shelter's 80-year history and it is in need of donations for the cats' ongoing care.
They're doing their best to give the animals lots of love, even piping in classical music and using aromatherapy to create a calm environment.
With so many cats to care for, the animals have been given generic names, like Happycat and Hotcat. Sometimes they're named after people.
"We have decided that we are going to name this little kitty Cindy, in your honor," Dashfield told Hsu. "She was waiting for a name."
The cats that are ready for adoption will be located at St. Hubert's shelter in Madison.
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