Nearly 50 cats found living in sweltering and unsanitary conditions inside a vehicle at a far-north metro rest area Tuesday are now in the care of the Animal Humane Society.
Deputies from the Chisago County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota State Patrol responded to a rest area along Interstate 35 near Harris, Minn., after getting a call about the cats inside the vehicle on the hottest day of the year. Humane Society agents arrived and removed them, Humane Society spokesperson Mary Tan said.
The 47 cats ranging in age from less than a year to more than 12 years old had "only minor medical issues," despite the extreme heat and unsanitary conditions inside the vehicle, Tan said. They were taken to veterinary care at the Humane Society's Coon Rapids shelter. Veterinary and animal behavior staff will examine and evaluate the cats.
"Once any medical and behavior issues have been addressed, the cats will be sterilized and made available for adoption," Tan said.
It is believed the cats had been living in the vehicle with their owner for quite some time and had not been subjected to any malicious treatment, Humane Society investigator Ashley Pudas said.
"He loved those cats and had a name for every one of them," Pudas said. "Those were his babies."
Pudas said the man had been evicted from his home and was making the best of a "horrible situation."
"He had nowhere to go, and he didn't want to leave the animals behind," she said.
The cats' owner was assessed at the scene by paramedics and provided with medical resources, the Humane Society said.
Pudas assured the man the cats would be well cared for.
"We have great staff loving on them," she said.
Before Tuesday, as many as 14 additional cats that had been living in the vehicle were given to a local rescue organization, Tan said.