HYDE PARK — Hyde Park Cats has seen a sudden rush of abandoned cats come into the group’s care, including a gray and white cat rescued after its owner was sent to a mental health facility.
“He is in good health, it seems; he has some dry skin and, of course, the fur on his paws is still growing back,” Terren Wein of the cat adoption group said of the male cat nicknamed Court Case Kitty Pounder, or CCK Pounder.
Chicago Animal Care and Control found CCK Pounder with tape on his back feet at the apartment of a University of Chicago graduate student at 5514 S. Blackstone Ave. on June 24. Two other cats were found dead in the apartment.
Neighbors say it's possible the cats were strays known in the neighborhood.
“There are several friendly cats that were seen on that block in the past several months that have never been found. I was searching there for a black and white tuxedo that was friendly and never found,” said one neighbor, who visited the apartment building at one point.
CCK Pounder was adjusting to his new digs at Parker’s Pets, 1342 E. 55th St., Wednesday and Thursday, his first days out of the city’s pound.
“He’s really sweet,” said shop worker Amanda Raber. “He’s been having visitors all day.”
Li said he was under a lot of stress while finishing his thesis on critical psychology and deviance in society for the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.
“The cats were able to provide me with much comfort and helped me with my depression and anxiety while I struggled with my studies and projects,” Li said. “The cats seemed to enjoy my company and I treated them well.”
Li said he taped the paws of one cat because he thought the only other option was declawing, which he said he felt was inhumane.
Li said he was not allowed to leave the hospital until his parents arrived from California on June 29. Li said a friend staying with him to help him through the stress of finals was not allowed into the apartment to care for the cats.
Animal Care and Control declined to say how the two cats found in the apartment died. It was 11 days between when Li initially entered the hospital and Li was evicted from the university-owned building on June 24.
University of Chicago Police Department officers accompanied the property manager to Li’s cluttered apartment on June 24 because of reports of a foul odor and found the dead cats and CCK Pounder among Li’s scattered belongings.
Animal Care and Control took the cats. Nearly all of Li’s possessions ended up being thrown out, Li and a friend who had been staying with him said. Li, who is now back in California, said he was never informed that he was being evicted.
A spokesman for the university declined to comment.
CCK Pounder has a special spot at the front counter at Parker’s Pets to receive his frequent visitors after being held as evidence by Animal Care and Control for 16 days.
Wein also rescued from the city pound a tiny black and white kitten too small to eat solid food.
“The kitten meowed its head off the entire time, but CCK Pounder only gave one soulful meow,” Wein said.
In the backroom of Parker’s Pets, Raber helped Wein make a “cat condo” for a looming male black and white cat, a pregnant gray cat found on the streets of Hyde Park and the kitten.
Raber said they found temporary homes for the cats, but were hoping to find permanent homes for the three cats and expected litter of newborns with Hyde Park families. She said they are seeking donations of cat food and litter — and the leftovers from a picky house cat are fine.
Those wishing to adopt CCK Pounder or another cats can e-mail email@example.com. All potential adopters must fill out an application and pay an $85 fee.
All the cats taken in by Hyde Park Cats are listed on hydeparkcats.org. All cats are living with foster families in the neighborhood until permanent homes can be found.