NORTH BEND — Kittens and young cats started turning up in bunches around a North Bend neighborhood over Easter weekend. Most were in poor health, and some were strangling on string tied tightly around their necks.
Fortunately for them, they found their way to Lisa Boyle’s house.
Boyle and her daughters, Alyssa and Sara Birrer, had spotted a couple of them in front of their Scott Lane home March 29. They cleaned and fed the animals.
Those turned out to just be a start.
On Sunday, Sara Birrer and her friend, Alex Flaherty, were heading to the store.
“I walked outside and I see this little black kitten with string around its neck,” said Birrer, a junior at Marshfield High School. “And as I picked it up, I heard all these other cries and I thought, ‘Oh no.’”
They found half a dozen more nearby. The string was so tight around some of their necks, they had trouble breathing. At that point the family called North Bend police and started looking for other abandoned cats.
Batches of young cats were found near Ken Ware Super Store and the intersection of Brussels Street and Newmark Avenue. By the time the week was over, Boyle had taken in 25 cats. Ten more kittens, found in a duffel bag, went to Kohl’s Cat House, a local no-kill, non-profit cat rescue.
The family and neighbors have some thoughts about where the felines may have come from. But authorities can’t verify their suspicions yet.
Wendy Martinez, Coos County’s animal control officer, said cat abandonment is common. Establishing responsibility is difficult, in part because cats are natural wanderers.
Boyle said the cats appeared to have been on their own for a while. Some were injured. All were dirty and starving. The family took them in and cleaned, fed and treated them for their injuries.
“I arranged through S/Nipped to go through their spay and neuter clinic with 16 of the cats, had them vaccinated and spayed or neutered,” Boyle said. Co-worker Ebony Debban lent her pickup to transport them.
“Some were already fixed, so we got those treated and cleaned.”
Since then, Sara Birrer and Flaherty have been doing a lot of the day-to-day caring for the cats as they look for new homes.
Birrer said the cats are too well behaved to be strays. They’re so nice, the teen hasn’t complained about getting up an hour earlier than usual to care for them. She returns after school to clean and feed them and give each some personal attention.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it, and not a single cat has been mean,” she said. “I can’t imagine how someone would just put them outside.”
Boyle, who works at the Walgreens Pharmacy inside the North Bend Medical Center, has already spent about $1,000 taking care of the cats. But she says co-workers have given money, cat food and cat litter. A few have even adopted cats.
“They’ve been very generous.”
More homes are needed. Birrer says 11 cats are left, “And all are litterbox-trained, which is kind of a miracle.”
If you think you can care for one or more of them, you can call Boyle at 541-756-9717.
“They all need a good home.”