ADAMS - The cat was in a shoelace noose lashed to a makeshift gallows framed with branches. She was left for dead when a passerby happened by and heard her meow.
A worker at Specialty Minerals Inc. on Howland Avenue was out for a walk on the property when he heard the cat and found her. The cat was choking and the worker dialed 911.
Someone had fashioned sticks and a shoelace into a small gallows. The shoelace was wrapped around the cat's neck in an attempt to hang it. The weight of the cat, however, had collapsed the contraption, but the feline remained tethered in place.
Carrie Loholdt, the town's animal control officer, said she has seen animals in terrible situations before, but said what she encountered that day, five days before Christmas, was hard to grasp.
"It was so cruel," Loholdt said.
Luckily for Cleo, as her rescuers have named her since, her story didn't end. In fact, she's now up for adoption.
The shoelace was wrapped so tight around Cleo's neck, Loholdt couldn't immediately cut it off. Cleo was brought to the animal hospital where it was taken off. After receiving medication and several weeks of care, she's made a full recovery, but is still skittish when someone moves their hands quickly toward her.
"She's petrified," Loholdt said. "She must have been hit too."
Loholdt and her volunteer crew paid for the cat's medication and for her to be spayed.
Typically, animal control officers don't deal with cats because there isn't the budget to do so, Loholdt said. But considering what Cleo had gone through, Loholdt said it was necessary to pay for the cat's care.
A spaghetti fundraiser dinner is scheduled for Feb. 24, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Polish National Alliance in Adams to help recoup some of the costs and hopefully make enough to help other animals.
If someone wants to adopt Cleo, Loholdt said the adoption fee would be waived.
"Cleo is going to be a hard placement," Loholdt said. "She's not a big cuddle-bug yet, but she needs to be in a home, she couldn't be an outside cat. She needs someone with a big heart to give her a chance."
For information on how to adopt Cleo or other animals, visit the Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue website, www.gdcnerescue.org.
Loholdt continues to investigate who attempted to kill the cat.