Misty has a broken tail. Another cat has a deformed paw. They have 38 friends and relatives, and all need a home soon.
The animals belonged to Roy Cope, a true cat lover, who died of cancer Dec. 4 and left them in the care of a social services worker. Most are still living as usual in a barn and other outbuildings on Cope's farm just south of Leesburg, but the Humane Society of Loudoun County is trying to find them homes.
Cope's relatives, who want to save the cats, are older and live in the Midwest, said lawyer Dana Scott, co-executor of Cope's estate. "They know that Roy would not have wanted any of them killed," he said.
Kathy Brice, co-president of the humane society, said the cats had been well taken care of, although they hadn't received medical care since Cope died.
"Many, many of them are very friendly," she said. "We were able to get about half of them spayed or neutered. We took some of the youngest ones out who were sick with respiratory problems and were able to nurse them back to health."
The Loudoun County Animal Shelter asked the humane society to help care for the cats when Cope, who was in his eighties, was hospitalized in November. The shelter had been contacted by Jonathan Hamilton, a social worker with the county social services department who fed the cats when Cope was too ill to take care of them and continued after he died.
Brice said that it was unusual for the shelter to ask the humane society for help but that this was an unusual situation and an unusually large number of cats -- big, small, old, kittens, in all colors. The shelter had no room to house them and didn't want to euthanize a large number of cats.
"Roy was a very kind man," Hamilton said. "As he was terminally ill, I had to convince him to go to the hospital. He agreed only after I promised to look after his cats. He had a photo album with many pictures of them."
Brice said Cope was extremely concerned about the welfare of his cats. "He'd often feed his cats before he'd feed himself," she said.
Brice has taken in three of the cats. "Misty is gray with some white and has a broken tail.," she said. "Copely is still a kitten but chases my other cats around. The other, we haven't named yet, but he's black and white with little white tufts by his eyes."
The most immediate need, Brice said, is for food or money to feed all 40 cats.
The humane society usually charges $75 for adoptions, but in this case the fee is flexible, she said, "especially if the adopter is willing to take more than one cat."
The society can be reached at HSLCVA@HumaneSocietyof LoudounCounty.org or 703-777- 2912..