Jennifer Brooks
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Everyone knew how this story was going to end.

Forty-seven homeless cats, rescued in mid-June from an overheated SUV where they had been living with their owner at a Chisago County rest stop.

Photos of the rescue traveled around the globe. All those fuzzy little faces and fluffy cat butts, pressed against the windshield. Everyone wanted to make sure those cats were going to be OK.

It will take a little time – and a lot of effort on the part of local shelters and rescues – but all 47 cats are expected to find their way to safe, loving homes.

Maybe one day their human will too.

Coconut. Cupid. Gandalf. Arthur. Brodie.

The Animal Humane Society posts photos as each cat passes its medical and behavioral checks and moves to the adoption floor.

Princess. Caramel. Snowball. Trouble. Turbo.

The cats from the car have the names their owner gave them and the "special project" label that makes it easy to spot them between the rows of wide-eyed spring kittens and the forlorn forget-me-nots that have been waiting and waiting for someone to take them home.

It's kitten season and the cat rescues were packed even before 47 newcomers arrived all at once. But rescuers made room. New Leash Rescue took eight. St. Francis of Assisi Animal Rescue took eight more with the greatest medical needs. Kitty Krusaders took in 14 of the cats before the Humane Society even got involved.

All of them could still use extra donations, if you are so inclined. Donations poured in when the story first made headlines, along with offers to adopt. But the news cycle has moved on.

"Minnesota loves animals," said Animal Humane Society spokeswoman Mary Tan. Some of the cats – Orange, Millie and Snow White, Tan rattled the names off from memory — were snapped up the first weekend. Others need to be spayed or neutered or still need medical care.

Minnesotans also wanted to know what happened to the 48th occupant of the car.

"The human," Tan said. "Everyone wants to know about him."

The man in the car was polite and helpful by all accounts. He told the rescuers he had been evicted from his home, but couldn't bear to abandon his pets – even if it meant sleeping in a car with 47 cats and no litter box.

"We offered him anything we could," said Capt. Derek Anklan of the Chisago County Sheriff's Office patrol division. The man's family reached out to the Sheriff's Office, begging them to get him some help. But despite the resources available in the North Metro, the man declined every offer. "He just gave us a polite, 'Thanks but no thanks.'"

The man voluntarily surrendered his cats to the Humane Society — after filling rescuers in on the names, histories and personalities of each cat. Then he got back in his car and drove away.

"The Humane Society are the real heroes," Anklan said. "They came out on a 90-degree day and really did all the legwork. We are not set up to take in 47 cats."

The man in the car turned down help for himself, but accepted it for his cats. Rescuers are so grateful that he did.

They'd be even more grateful if any Minnesotans thinking about adopting a cat, could come adopt a cat.

"Everybody is packed right now. To get these animals on top of that is very difficult for us," said Tan. "If you want to adopt a cat, please do it right now."