Two cats left to die in wooden box in Lancaster Township: How to rescue animals during 'Kitten Season'


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Aug 15, 2023

Two cats left to die in wooden box in Lancaster Township: How to rescue animals during 'Kitten Season'

Lucien (left) and Callum (right) are two cats found locked in an airtight wooden

Lucien (left) and Callum (right) are two cats found locked in an airtight wooden box with zip ties by a dumpster at the Kensington Club Apartments in Lancaster Township.

Laurie Horst was visiting Pet Pantry in Millersville to buy cat food for her four pets when she saw an odd wooden box on the front desk. The box had a picture of a machine gun on the front and the word "DAD" stenciled on the side.

Horst, of Lancaster Township, asked what the box was used for, and the manager told her two adult striped tiger cats had been locked in the airtight box with zip ties and left to die by a dumpster at the Kensington Club Apartments on Misty Drive.

"They were stuffed in the wooden box," Horst said. "The box had no air holes. The cats barely fit into the box."

Pet Pantry told Horst the cats were rescued by a good Samaritan who discovered the box and heard the animals crying inside. The rescuer brought them to the Pet Pantry, as he could not keep the animals. Pet Pantry also could not keep them, as it is currently "kitten season," the time of year when cats most frequently give birth.

"There's not a lack of cats in Lancaster County," said Melody Sanders, CEO of Pet Pantry. "In total, overall, we probably have over 70 cats. That's between foster, what we have here, and the intakes that we have coming in."

During kitten season, local shelters often struggle to provide enough housing and supplies for the influx of cats. Cats gestate for only 63 days, so it is possible for them to have multiple litters in one summer. Sanders said some neglectful owners turn the cats loose in the county without having them spayed or neutered, which results in more kittens.

Neither of the adult male cats in the box was neutered. Horst called her neighbor, Dee Henry, who volunteers to trap and fix cats in the county, and asked if she would be able to take them.

"In my mind, I’m going ‘Do not bring them here. Do not bring them here.’ But what actually came out of my mouth was ‘Bring them here,’ " Henry said. "So I just forgot to do the ‘not’ part."

Henry traps, fixes and releases cats to ethically keep the population down. She also helps find cats good homes, and she is among the trappers who become inundated with cats once the shelters get full.

Trappers are volunteers who often spend their own money to help the animals. Henry said her email and texts are full of people asking her to take cats that need a home, which is common between April and September.

Henry already has five kittens and three cats at home and is still taking on more. She felt compelled to take the Kensington Club Apartments cats after she heard their plight.

"When I saw that picture, I was flipping mad because you can cut holes in a cardboard box, you know, for air. But this is a rock solid box," Henry said. "It's extremely cruel. It was put out to the dumpster. You can't say there was any intent except for them to die in that box."

Henry took the cats to get fixed and vaccinated at the Lancaster SPCA, and she made sure to relay their story to the organization's humane officer.

Despite the abuse the animals suffered, Henry and Horst said the cats are docile and loving, coming toward them without fear for petting and food. A friend of Henry named them Lucien and Callum, Latin for light and peace.

Now Henry is trying to find a good home for the animals. She believes the cats are brothers and hopes whoever takes them will keep them together.

"We’re not just gonna give them to any Joe Schmo. You know? They’re gonna have to have to be special people," Henry said.

When it comes to relinquishing unwanted cats, Sanders recommends contacting as many organizations as possible.

"Get your name on as many surrender lists as possible because it will not hurt anybody's feelings if another organization takes that cat in, because there's so many needing the help," Sanders said.

She recommended contacting the Pet Pantry to surrender animals in addition to the Lancaster SPCA, Humane Pennsylvania and Columbia Animal Shelter, all of which offer low-cost spay and neutering services.

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