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By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN â A half-dozen cats that were abandoned in Apponaug after their elderly owner, known to be a reclusive animal collector, died have wound up at the Pet Refuge on Stony Lane.
According to Donna Hawkins, a Warwick cat expert, the family of the late Pat O'Sullivan arrived from out-of-state, went through the house and then left, leaving the cats to fend for themselves.
Worried that the animals â some of whom are elderly and ill â would be euthanized, Hawkins and a handful of neighbors began tending the animals.
The Pet Refuge accepted the first batch of six â Hawkins has since seen others hiding in the empty house â which includes three Siamese, an orange-and- white mix, a calico and a personable gray cat that may be a Russian Blue.
The refuge accepted the animals although they aren't local because Hawkins is a longtime volunteer at the no-kill shelter and this is an extreme situation.
Mrs. O'Sullivan, says Hawkins, ânever let anyone in the house and had been in the hospital [until she died.] Who knows how long these cats weren't being fed? We're hoping to get them turned around pretty quicklyâ in terms of assessing their health status, getting them well and finding new homes.
One of the Siamese is elderly with a plethora of medical issues which will be addressed by a veterinarian before it's determined if she can survive.
The possible Russian blue, says Hawkins, is âwonderful, friendly, sweet.â He is also declawed and, on a recent visit, appeared healthy, cheerful and affectionate.
Mrs. O'Sullivan was 75 and, Hawkins notes, none of her four adult children was willing to take any of the cats. They were abandoned in a house that has no water, no heat and a collapsing ceiling.
âIt's deplorable,â says Hawkins. âUnbelievable.â
At the Pet Refuge, Helga Murray, who had just administered fluids to one of the rescued cats, isn't surprised by what has transpired. The shelter sees such situations on a regular basis.
âVery seldom does the family take them,â she states. âThese are all in bad condition but they're going to the vet and they'll get better. They're scared but they're all nice.â
To learn more about adopting the abandoned cats, visit the Pet Refuge at 500 Stony Lane or call 294-1115.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.