Most of the 79 cats pulled from Gilbert home euthanized

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

GILBERT, Ariz. -- Maricopa County Animal Care and Control officials say they have euthanized the majority of the 79 cats that came into their care last month after being pulled from a Gilbert home.

MCACC spokeswoman Melissa Gable says many of the cats were too sick or too anti-social to be adopted. Two kittens are in a foster home, two cats were adopted and another five went to an animal rescue. Approximately 10 still remain at the shelter but are slated to be put down soon. The rest have already been euthanized. 

"We're the bad guys because we had to euthanize them and we feel awful," says Gable. "We wanted to give the public a chance to try to come forward and try and help them but they weren't social. They weren't the kind of cat where you can come home and it will sit in your lap and watch TV with you right away."

Gable says they were hopeful the public or more than 100 area rescue agencies would step up, but almost no one has.

"We kind of knew no one was going to want these cats because they're not adoptable," Gable says.

Many of the cats displayed feral tendencies.

According to Gilbert Police Department incident reports dating back to March, officers noticed dozens of feral cats on the outside of the property.

Neighbors called police for assistance with the cat problem several times. Documents show police responded to the home five times before they were finally able to gain access and remove the cats.

On various visits, officers reported a "nauseating smell" so bad they had to turn around and leave.

Neighbors often described the smell as feces, urine and decomposing cats, however, when officers investigated, all of the cats they saw outside appeared to be in good health.

The owner, Jean Whitaker, refused to allow officers in her home, and often told them she was getting the situation under control.

A police department spokesperson says detectives were not able to gain enough evidence to obtain a warrant.

Gable says, if officers were able to get in the home sooner, there may have been fewer cats total, but the ones they did find would have still had the same grim outcome.

"Nothing was going to change for those cats," Gable says. "There were too many cats in the house and they weren't being cared for properly."