Area animal rescues working together to find homes; cat lovers resort to desperate measures in Delaware, where cats are not afforded the same protections as dogs.

Employees of Pet Valu in Georgetown arrived at work Sunday morning to find an anonymous note taped to the front door and 22 cats in back.

“I have been rescuing cats since I can remember, but this year has completely broke me,” the letter read. “Out back is all the babies I can’t find homes for and I have run out of time. I couldn’t just let them go on the street.”

Pet Valu is located in the Walmart shopping center, off Route 113, in Georgetown. Part of a strip mall, the pet supply store has a public entrance in front and an employee entrance in back.

Kristi Idnurm, of Georgetown, works part-time at Pet Valu and also runs a nonprofit cat rescue, Kristi’s Kats.  According to her, the cats were dropped off sometime between 9 p.m. on Saturday, January 5 and 9 a.m. on Sunday, January 6.

There are no video cameras behind Pet Valu, where the cats themselves were found, but there may be video footage of the person that taped the note to the front door.

Idnurm’s focus, however, is not on finding the person who dumped the animals, but on finding the cats homes. She, her fellow Pet Valu employees and volunteers dropped everything to find places for them to go. Coastal Cats, a Bethany Beach-based rescue, and Town Cats of Ocean City, Maryland, also stepped in to help foster and provide medical care.

A mother cat and her four kittens, estimated to be about three weeks old, were found in a cardboard box. Seventeen adult felines of varying ages were found in a wire crate. All were noted to be clean, friendly and litterbox-trained. According to the anonymous note-writer, four of the cats had already been spayed or neutered and one of the females is suspected to be pregnant.

Kristi’s Kats operates three “kitty condos” in Pet Valu, where cats available for adoption are on display to potential adopters. Idnurm thinks this is why the cats were dumped there.

“I am glad, in the end, that it was done this way instead of putting them in the middle of a forest where they would have had zero chance of survival,” she said.

But she stressed that dumping cats at pet stores is not a good idea.

“We’re not set up for that kind of situation. We had to call in extra staff to figure out how to handle this event,” Idnurm said. “I had to buy a lot of supplies and we certainly didn’t have space for 20 cats.”

Cat lovers often resort to desperate measures in Delaware, where cats are not afforded the same protections as dogs. According to state’s Animal Services website, only dogs are provided for in animal control contracts with the counties.

“We are always overwhelmed with too many cats needing help,” said Terri Nicholson, of Coastal Cats. “Unfortunately this is a very sad reality and until the state changes their policies to help protect and care for cats, we will continue to have this problem.”