WATERVILLE — The Humane Society Waterville Area is looking for three special homes to take in a handful of cats that were rescued from inhumane living conditions last month and now are subject to special adoption procedures.

The five cats up for adoption — Felicity, Boone, Felix, Emmeline and Flick — are among a total of 12 cats that were found locked in a storage unit Oct. 5 in Unity. Authorities determined the cats had been abandoned for 17 days — nearly three weeks — and survived locked in dog crates with no food, water or cat litter.

“It was inhumane conditions,” Waldo County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. Merl Reed said. “There was no food, no water. It wasn’t a pretty sight.”

The sheriff’s office was alerted to the situation after a passer-by heard the cats crying and notified the owner of the storage facility, who cut open the lock and called the local animal control officer.

Anna Elander, 66, was the owner of the cats and has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a class C felony, Reed said. He said Elander was “not homeless, but had been staying in a motel and moving around a lot.”

She initially told police someone else was supposed to be caring for the cats, but later admitted she knew about the conditions for days but had done nothing, Reed said.

Three of the cats were dead when authorities arrived and one died shortly after arriving at the humane society. A fifth cat was euthanized beacause of fluid in his lungs, according to a news release from the shelter.

The remaining cats were bathed, closely monitored and treated for potential illnesses and severe malnourishment. A little over one month later, humane society Executive Director Lisa Oakes said, they’re ready for adoption, though the process will be more rigorous than normal.

Oakes herself already has adopted two of the cats — a 6-year-old male named Bennett and an 8-year-old female named Dorthea.

The shelter is seeking to put the remaining five cats up for adoption in two pairs of two and one cat, Flick, on his own. The pairs are Felicity and Boone, and Felix and Emmeline.

Felix, a 9-month-old black-and-white male, is Emmeline’s kitten. Oakes said the shelter wants to keep them together. The mother is a 6-year-old black female.

“He has a lot of energy and she’s a little shy,” Oakes said. “He kind of checks on her when they’re roaming around. He’ll go play, then come back and snuggle with her.”

Felicity is a 3-year-old female Siamese who is missing her right eye. Oakes said the shelter isn’t sure what happened to her, but they think she might have been born with a deformity and will need to see a veterinarian, though she is functioning fine now.

Boone is a 6-year-old orange-and-white male that Oakes said is outgoing and friendly.

“They’ve been together almost the entire time they’ve been here, so they’re also bonded,” she said of Boone and Felicity.

Flick, the only cat available for adoption alone, is a 4-year-old gray-and-white male described by Oakes as dominant, talkative and independent.

Applicants will have to provide a letter explaining why they want to adopt and submit three personal references who will be contacted. They also are being asked to pay slightly higher than normal adoption fees, which Oakes said is a way of ensuring the cats are cared for and go to good homes.

The adoption fees for the pairs are $300, and the fee for Flick is $150.

The new families will be asked to provide updates to the shelter every six months for the next two years.

“We want to make sure they continue to receive the exceptional care and attention we have shown them,” Oakes said.

The shelter, which announced in August it is in dire need of funding or it may be forced to close, also is starting a campaign to raise $17,000 to pay for the medical care for the cats and raise awareness of animal abuse.

“That’s why we’re here,” Oakes said. “We want to tell people, ‘Please help us so we can do this kind of work.’ We hope this never happens again, but we do need to defray the cost. It’s not cheap.”

She said the case is one of the more severe cases of animal abuse or neglect the shelter has seen in some time.

“We see difficult things all the time, but a lot of the time it’s one cat neglected or treated badly,” she said. “Fortunately, we don’t see this level of neglect and abuse very often at this shelter, but we do see it.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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