WOLCOTT - A Wolcott woman could face criminal charges after police took nearly five dozen cats and a pair of dogs from a Finch Road home Friday evening.
Animal control officers worked into the wee hours Saturday morning transporting crates of 59 cats removed from the home of Cheryl McMurray, after police obtained a search warrant for McMurray's Finch Road home.
A dead cat was found dead in a freezer, though officers believe it was euthanized and didn't die from the conditions in the house.
"I`d like to know how it got to the point it did, how she ended up with 60 cats in the house," said Wolcott Police Sgt. Patrick Malloy.
Officers say most of the 59 cats are in poor health and underweight, suffering from dehydration, eye infections and upper respiratory issues.
All of the cats will be taken to local veterinarians to be checked, and the animals will be housed at Wolcott and Woodbury Animal Control facilities as they recover.
Wolcott's Dog Pound only had enough room to house 19 of the cats, the remaining 40 are staying at Woodbury's Animal Control facility.
"We're seeing upper respiratory infections, we've seen ear mites and had eye expulsions, said Roslyn Nenninger, an officer with Wolcott Animal Control.
The house was found to be in a deplorable and unhealthy condition.
Cat urine and feces could be smelled from the outside of the house and inside, the smell was overbearing from cat feces and cat urine.
"There was feces, urine and smells, and cat after cat after cat. Fresh feces all over the floor, splattered all over the walls," said Nenniger.
The residence was unhealthy not only for the cats but for the owner.
In September, police began receiving complaints regarding the condition of the home at 83 Finch Road.
Tiffany Swan, a Finch Road resident said her family complained to animal control several times after seeing McMurray's cats roam onto their property.
"My parents started asking to not feed them anymore so they would stop coming, but more kept showing up," Swan said.
The complaints stated that a large number of cats were living in the residence, the outside of the property was in poor condition, and the yard was littered with garbage and bags of cat feces.
An Animal Control Officer contacted the property owner offering to help, and asked to check on the well-being of the cats inside. The homeowner refused any type of assistance and also refused to let the officer check on the cats' well-being.
"All we were trying to do is get her to do is cooperate and clean up the property up, and in such time we realized there were other issues," said Sgt. Malloy.
Police said the homeowner was legally operating a cat rescue from the house, under the name of Egyptian Cat Rescue.
Police said that recently the homeowner had been turned away from spay and neuter clinics due to the fact that the cats that were living in the house were in poor health.
"When we were altered by the clinics she had been bringing animals there that were unhealthy, that was kind of the final straw," said Sgt. Malloy.
A search warrant was obtained, the home was inspected and the living conditions and the health of the cats was checked on Friday afternoon.
This investigation of this apparent animal hoarding case is ongoing and animal cruelty charges may be brought against McMurray.
The Wolcott Dog Pound is encouraging the public to donate items, like food and cat litter needed to care for the displaced cats.
If anyone is interested, they can visit the department's Facebook page.