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Tuesday, October 4, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Oregon shelter flies in 41 feline survivors of Katrina

The Associated Press

SHERWOOD, Ore. — Forty-one cats left homeless by Hurricane Katrina were flown to Oregon, where shelter workers hope they will live out their remaining lives in loving homes.

The animals were brought from Texas Monday on a private plane that was chartered by the Cat Adoption Team of Sherwood.

To give them the most comfortable ride possible, the flight crew removed the six seats inside the Cessna 421, making room for the cats in the main cabin.

Of the 41, all but one were evacuated from animal shelters in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The remaining cat — an orange kitten — was rescued from the city's floodwaters by a volunteer.

They were moved to the Humane Society of North Texas.

"It's their time to find a loving home now," said Britta Bavaresco, a member of the Cat Adoption Team.

The team is the Northwest's largest no-kill shelter, able to hold 600 cats. The nonprofit used donations to fly the cats eight hours from Fort Worth, Texas, to Portland, stopping for an hour in Colorado, where the plane refueled.

A veterinary team checked on the cats and cleaned up after a group of them became air sick.

At least 6,000 animals have been rescued from Louisiana and Mississippi following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Although only the Cat Adoption Team has hired a private plane, three other organizations in Oregon have brought pets from the Gulf Coast. More are planning similar rescues.

For instance, when the Oregon Humane Society volunteers came back from Louisiana, they stowed small animals in their carry-ons for the return flight to Portland.

All the cats will be spayed, neutered and vaccinated before they are made available for adoption on Wednesday. They will also have an ID microchip embedded in their fur.

"We're not just helping cats," Bavaresco said. "We're really helping the community as a whole."

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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