FINLEY -- Fifty cats were found abandoned in a Finley-area home that was covered in urine and feces.
The animals apparently were left behind when their owner was evicted from the East 10th Avenue home at the end of June, said Lee McPeek, an animal advocate who has been caring for the cats.
McPeek, a Pasco resident and volunteer with Pet Over Population Prevention and assistant and founder of Prevent Homeless Pets, said she was contacted by the property owner Saturday after the pets were discovered.
"There was feces, maggots, flies, creepy crawlers all over the place," McPeek said. "Literally, this lady (the tenant) had to step over (cat) bodies to get into her house. We know she had been there Friday, and on Saturday I found two dead."
A report has been filed with the Benton County Sheriff's Office, she said.
Six cats were put down Thursday by a Tri-City veterinarian who has been helping McPeek. The total dead so far is 18, she said.
"Most are tamed -- scared but tamed," McPeek said. "Part are wild cats."
There are about 10 kittens, several feral "teenagers" (4-6 months old) and the rest are adults, she said. The kittens are the ones with the worst medical problems.
Many of the cats have herpes infections in their eyes, upper respiratory issues and calici virus, which produces sores on cats' tongues that can get so bad they stop eating and starve to death, McPeek said.
The Pasco woman has been helping treat and care for the cats since they were discovered and has worked to clean up rooms in the Finley house to give the animals a safe place to go.
McPeek said the cats likely will stay in the house until they're healthy enough be moved. The feral cats will be trapped, spayed or neutered and released, she said.
"The property owner is a cat lover herself," McPeek said, explaining why the cats are being allowed to stay in the vacant home.
"We know sooner or later we have to move them. Hopefully within a month we can transfer them to different places where they won't be contaminating everyone else."
McPeek is continuing to go to the house twice a day to provide food and water to the cats. Lowe's has donated an air conditioner, she said.
McPeek said she needs donations of food -- canned, dry and kitten food -- and money to help pay for the spaying and neutering.
Food can be donated to Pet Over Population Prevention and checks can be mailed to Prevent Homeless Pets, Attention: Lee's Rescues, P.O. Box 3011, Richland, 99354.
* Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org