By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- Moving away from home is stressful enough when it is planned, but an unplanned moving day can fluster and confuse even the coolest of cats.
Last week, 18 Persian cats of various ages were surrendered to the nonprofit Helping Animals Live and Overcome Rescue in Sebastian.
The 18 cats, adult females and male and female adolescents, from a home in Fort Pierce with more than 25 cats, was definitely a situation where loving cats got out of hand, said Jacque Petrone, owner of HALO Rescue.
About one year ago, four cats, none of them fixed, were bequeathed to a new owner and as a result of none of them being spayed or neutered, those four cats multiplied quickly, Ms. Petrone said.
The sheer number of cats grew to be overwhelming and very costly to care for, and as a result, the animals were not in a good situation health-wise, so the owner called HALO Rescue in hopes the no-kill shelter could help.
At HALO, only animals there is room for are accepted, said Ms. Petrone.
The shelter finances are paid for with donations and supplemented income from pet boarding and grooming services, and with limited space and funding to cover the costs of medical and food bills, there just isn't always a place for new animals, she said.
Enough space opened at the shelter to accept the Persians last week and so the process to bring them to a place where they could have a better chance at life began.
The cats have all undergone the first treatment for ear mites, tapeworm and fleas, are on the road to recovery and will be available for adoption soon.
One of the cats just had a litter of three kittens, and another one is pregnant and is currently in a foster home awaiting a delivery, Ms. Petrone said.
The cats huddled together with their wide eyes searching trying to figure out their new surroundings. In one cage, three cats crammed themselves underneath a stool and could be seen panting and shaking.
"When you see a cat panting like that that means it's stressed and it's trying to calm itself down," Ms. Petrone said.
Despite their poor physical condition and the shock of being whisked from their home to the shelter, the cats have held up quite well, she said.
"They all seem to have a great temperament. They had to be captured in the house, put in a cage with other cats, had a 30-minute car ride, they were treated for ear mites and tapeworm -- hey, I would have been feisty after all that, but they are just taking all that we give them," Ms. Petrone said.
One of the HALO volunteers spoke softly to the new arrivals and began brushing their matted hair gently, hoping the motions would sooth and relax them, but also realizing the animals may have never been brushed before.
Caring for animals is a lifelong passion for Ms. Petrone, and that very reason is why she opened HALO nearly seven years ago.
She installed a roadside sign showing how many animals were saved because she thought the public would like to know what a difference their donations can make in the lives of animals in the county.
"I did this because I love animals. I didn't do this to be in competition with anyone. There are so many animals out there," Ms. Petrone said.
Financial donations are always needed, as the shelter does not accept any government funding and must find other ways to stay afloat, Ms. Petrone said.
Other valuable donations are cat litter, bottled water, Pro Plan sensitive stomach food for felines and Advantage flea treatment.
HALO Rescue is located at 710 Jackson St., Sebastian. For more information, call (772) 589-7297 or visit www.halorescuefl.org.