Breeder: Obermiller, Claudia
Address: 915 Union Rd
City, State Zip: Farwell, NE 68838
USDA License: 47-A-0295
Date of CAPS Investigation: 2015-05-27
Time of CAPS Investigation: 13:36
CAPS investigation: 5/27/15, kennel; visited at 13:36
Weather at time of investigation: 77 degrees Fahrenheit and partly cloudy
Approximate number of cats observed at the time of investigation: 28 cats, about 15 kittens
Claudia Obermiller (Caucasian female, about 60 years old, 5’6”, 280 lbs., with thin white hair past her shoulders, glasses, and missing several front teeth) allowed me into her cattery and discussed her business with me.
Description of cattery
The cattery was a single structure on the north side of her driveway and just west of her residence. All of the cat enclosures were indoors. There were about five stacks of kitten/whelping cages against the east wall; each stack had two cages. There was a sixth stack of empty cages in the center of the room. Five group breeder pens were against the western wall. Breeder pens were enclosures made of wire walls that reached the ceiling. The pens were about six feet wide and long. Each pen held four to five cats each. A folding table and chair also were in each pen. A sixth pen of similar design held a single cat.
All cat enclosures had water and feed dishes, as well as litter boxes. The litter boxes in the breeder enclosures were filthy. Feces and urine piles covered their surfaces (3.1 Housing Facilities, General (c) Surfaces (3) Cleaning). Feces stains covered the entire surfaces of the floorings of the pens, and about five to 10 piles of feces were on the floor of every pen (3.1 Housing Facilities, General (c) Surfaces (3) Cleaning). The top surface of the baseboard along the wall to which the pens were attached, as well as the crevices under the metal beams at the bottom of every wire wall, had fur, feces, and cat litter crammed into them; it appeared Obermiller hadn’t cleaned her facility in weeks (3.1 Housing Facilities, General (c) Surfaces (3) Cleaning).
I saw a multitude of veterinary problems at the facility. An orange Persian in a whelping cage with kittens had a black crust around both eyes (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate veterinarian care). A white Persian adult, alone in a whelping cage, had a right eye swollen shut with black grime on the eyelids. Also, the back of the cat’s legs were soaking wet and stained a light brown (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate veterinary care). A white Persian in a pen had swollen eyes and black grime on its eyelids. The cat also had a tuft of fur about two inches across sticking up along the back near the tail (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate veterinary care). I could not see the eyes of an orange Persian, in a group pen, because of its swollen eyelids. The fur around the eyes was covered in brown-stained wet fur, as were the cat’s cheeks (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate veterinary care). A white Persian kitten in a whelping cage had a clear discharge from both eyes, with brown stains under the cat’s eyes; its right eye was shut, and the left eye was blinking often (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate veterinary care). The fur of a grey Persian adult in a group pen was clumped into thick tufts over the cat’s body, making it impossible to smooth the hair out while petting the animal (Sec 2.40 Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care (a) Adequate veterinary care).
Discussion with Claudia
Claudia talked to me about how her operation was too difficult for her to manage, and said, “There’s times I wanna’ open the door and say I’m done for. I mean look at this place. That should not be.” I then asked her if the facility is too much for her to handle, and she then talked about how she recently had to make a cake for bible school, which she claimed prevented her from maintaining her facility. She then added, “Yeah, sometimes it’s too much, but other times when it’s just a few in these… I call maternity pens… it goes fast. And when it’s just those five pens to clean, it goes fast. But, oh, they are so messy.” It’s worth noting that if the facility is easy to clean, making a cake would not seem to be a sufficient reason for it to have been in a state of such neglect.
Based on the large incidence of eye infections, stains covering the floorings, and fecal and fur buildup in the cracks of surfaces around the facility, it did not appear that Claudia is properly maintaining sanitary and health standards for her licensed facility and the cats and kittens in her care. She later said, “I’m lucky you weren’t a state inspector because of the way those pens look. Or USDA.”
Claudia told me that she sells her kittens through private sales and Pixie Pals, a broker in Nebraska.