MADISON COUNTY, Ind. - Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger said a couple was living in a cat hoard with at least 14 felines. The sheriff said some rooms in the 1700 square-foot home had cat feces in them inches deep and newspapers simply soaked with urine.
The stench of feces was so bad that neighbors called in authorities for help.
Investigators had to wear hazmat suits just to go in the home safely.
“As far as animals contained in a residence, this is one of the worst cases we’ve seen,” said Scott Mellinger, Madison County Sheriff.
Mellinger said this isn’t the first time law enforcement has been to the home in the 9000 block of South 750 West. In fact, they’ve been three times before and even taken seven cats, with commissioners issuing a citation.
“They did have a lot of cats. I didn’t realize they had that many cats,” said Doug Martin, who lives nearby.
Neighbors said the cats are wild and run all over the homeowners’ property and everybody else’s, adding that it’s been a problem for years. All said they had no clue of the situation behind closed doors.
“We knew they had a bunch of cats, but we didn’t know the conditions inside the house,” said Johnny Coleman.
The sheriff said neighbors complained of the odor. Once investigators went inside on Wednesday, they realized this was a hazmat situation and got the place quickly condemned.
“There are places in the home, living spaces, like the kitchen, where there is cat feces three inches thick in the floor,” he said.
Investigators took out at least five cats and one dead cat. Authorities said earlier Wednesday afternoon that 14 were living in the home but by Wednesday evening, the number seemed unclear.
“The homeowner really doesn’t know how many she actually has,” said Angie Webster, with the Animal Protection League in Anderson.
Mellinger said the couple is cooperating, as they told authorities they’d help retrieve some of the felines in the next day or so, since some of the animals were feral and weren’t responding to officials’ efforts to contain them.
“The conditions are extremely severe,” said Mellinger.
Residents at the home did not want to comment Wednesday night.
There were also three dogs inside. Investigators said they appeared ok.
Mellinger said charges could be filed in the case, but the charging decision would be up to the county prosecutor.
Anderson’s Animal Protection League will take in the cats, but officials there said they are already exceeding their capacity.