GILBERT, Ariz. -- Police were called to a Gilbert home on Monday after the new owners, who bought the property at auction, discovered there were dozens of cats inside.
Police said 79 cats were removed from inside the home which is near Val Vista Drive and Williams Field Road.
None of the cats were dead. It was reported earlier in the day that there were two dead cats.
The police received assistance from the Arizona Humane Society and Maricopa County Animal Care and Control with capturing and removing the cats.
"A lot of times unfortunately in conditions like this the cats are not healthy and they have to be euthanized," said Melissa Gable with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.
The stench of cat urine and feces in the home was said to be overwhelming. The animal rescuers had to wear respirators and special clothing to protect themselves when they went in to catch the cats.
Scott Carstens has lived next to the house full of cats for the past five months.
"Immediately when we moved in was the overpowering odor of pet urine and feces and at times when the doors would open you kind of smell carcass," said Carstens.
The woman who was living in the home is 59-year-old Jean Whitaker. She has signed the cats over to the authorities.
"She just seemed to be so tunnel vision on taking care of the cats but I said 'You're not taking care of the cats. They're breeding rampantly and you can't take care of them. They're dying, they're sick, they have clumps of hair hanging out.'"
Gilbert police told 3TV at a minimum Whitaker will be cited for a city code violation. Depending on what circumstances police discover inside the home she could face animal cruelty charges.
79 cats total removed and taken to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control to be evaluated for possible adoption.— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) July 22, 2014
Currently 65 cats recovered and counting.— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) July 22, 2014
@GilbertPolice officers contacted by investors who were at the house to start renovation. Previous occupant is signing cats over to MCRAC.— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) July 22, 2014
No idea how many cats are in the home at this point but personnel are preparing. pic.twitter.com/yYJXwxrnc4— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) July 21, 2014
MCACC and @azhumane are on scene to assist with the animals.— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) July 21, 2014
GPD is getting ready to process the scene at a possible cat hoarding house. 1600 E block of Milky Way pic.twitter.com/g11BoRmiGi— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) July 21, 2014