Son of ‘Felix the Cat’ creator helps NJ man hoarding 100 cats
WANTAGE — By day, Don Oriolo continues his father's Felix the Cat cartoon legacy. But even he wasn't prepared for what he recently saw at a home with dozens of cats roaming around the property.
Oriolo, the son of late Felix co-creator and Union City nativeJoe Oriolo, said the cats were found by a member of his nonprofit group, Kittens with a Mission. The group is only a few months old and has raised money for charities before this foray into addressing a major animal hoarding situation without judgement or pressing charges.
He said some of his group members live across the street from where the cats were leaving the property.
"I went up there and it was pretty disgusting with what was going on," he said. "I made a commitment to make it better."
This is not the first time cats have been an issue on the property. Oriolo said he learned that a few years ago about 100 to 150 cats were removed from the same home. He estimated there are 60 to 100 this time.
In the week since he has gone to the house, Oriolo said he has gotten to know one of the homeowners, who told him that his late wife had been the one to bring all the cats into their home. They had so many cats that did so much damage that the home became uninhabitable. Oriolo said the man was trying to do his best with the situation he was given and is glad to have help with safely removing the animals without needing law enforcement or animal control to get involved.
"I didn't know if they were being fed. I was so devastated of everything when I went up there that I just assumed the worst that they were starving," he said.
After getting to know the man, Oriolo said he learned that he had been feeding the animals as best he could.
Kittens with a Mission contacted St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center, which will help with finding the cats new homes.
When the animals are ready to be moved to St. Hubert's, they will be housed in a large trailer that St. Hubert's is using to house dogs that were rescued from Puerto Rico after powerful storms wreaked havoc on the island. Oriolo said he has agreed to pay Hubert's $25 per cat fee to have them spayed or neutered.
Having worked on the property for a week, Oriolo said the homeowner has been helpful in the process after dealing with what he acknowledged was a difficult situation.
"The first thing that people want to do is they want to judge people that do this thinking that they're horrible and they want off with their heads," he said. "He's a very nice guy and I just think that he placated his wife who, instead of having children, she had all these cats and she just became obsessed with them to the point where they had to move out of their home."
In addition to his work in the cartoon world and his efforts to help cats, Oriolo is also involved in helping horses. He said he has already found new homes for 10 of the cats at farms around the area.
Anyone interested in helping can contact Kathy at 973-670-9373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.