BUTTE, Mont. -

The Butte-Silver Bow Animal Shelter says they're struggling to nurse back to health dozens of cats, and the shelter is maxed out, after almost 100 cats were found locked inside a Butte house.

Here's some background:

Animal Services rescued the cats on Thursday after neighbors complained of a horrible smell and cats running around the yard.

The owner of the cats was paying rent and utilities on the Butte house, but was living in another town.

Some of the cats found inside the home were already dead. All were in poor health, and more have died since.

Authorities are investigating the tenant of the house. He will most likely be charged with animal abuse.

The cats are being treated by a local veterinarian, and most are now being housed in the Butte-Silver Bow Animal Shelter.

"It breaks my heart for them," said Butte-Silver Bow Animal Shelter Supervisor Jacki Casagranda, referring to the nearly 100 cats found locked up and alone in a Butte house last week.

"My heart goes out because I can't imagine any animal living in a condition like that," she said.

Some of the cats were dead when authorities found them. Others were in such poor conditions, they did not survive much longer.
Local veterinarians euthanized the animals that were too far gone.

But many survived the trauma, and the shelter staff is nursing them back to health.

"Right now, our biggest concern is just getting them stabilized, getting them fed, getting them watered, and of course the ones that are in immediate need of medical attention are getting that," Casagranda explained.

But while the shelter is dealing with the influx of dozens of malnourished and traumatized cats, they still have fifty to sixty cats already in their facility to take care of.

"Any time you get a mass amount of numbers like this in, it puts a strain on all of our staff, not to mention of facility," said Casagranda.

The Butte-Silver Bow Animal Shelter explained one of the best ways to help the cats that were found in the home, is to adopt a cat already in the shelter, to make room for the new ones.

"We just appreciate the community's sensitivity and support of this situation, and if anyone's looking for a cat, definitely come see us!" Casagranda said.

Casagranda said the future of the cats found in the house is unknown, but some are already making positive strides.

"We've already seen them come out of their shell, they're coming up to you for affection, they're meowing," she said. "I definitely think that when we assess them, there are going to be of course some that are going to make great pets."

But for now, Casagranda's focus is doing everything in their power to keep as many cats alive as possible.

"We're going to do the best we can to save them and get them into loving and adoptable homes," she said.

The Butte-Silver Bow Animal Shelter are looking for volunteers to help out at the shelter, with these cats, and all their other animals.

To donate, visit the animal shelter, or call (406) 782-8450.