Investigators believe a Fresno woman may have had up to one hundred cats living in unsanitary conditions in two separate locations. Officers spent the entire day gathering cats from a fenced area behind a home in rural Fresno County. A veterinarian who arrived at the scene said some had nose bleeds, a sign of a respiratory infection. "Chronic maybe bleeding going on in their respiratory system because of the sneezing, the dust and filth in their environment. It's very, very sad," said Dr. Katy Byrd.
The investigation was prompted by family members of a 63 year old woman. They told Action News she kept the animals at her mother's home in the county and in her own filthy residence in northeast Fresno. Family members said the woman is mentally unstable and called the sheriff's department after the woman threatened her mother with a knife.
Animal control investigators initially took 18 cats from both locations last week and returned for the others Wednesday, after getting authorization from a hearing officer. The Central California SPCA said many of the animals had been spayed or neutered. Education Coordinator Beth Caffrey said though the woman may have meant well, situations like this one can easily get out of control. "It's a lot to maintain, when you have that amount of animals in a small of a space. It's very difficult to maintain, the cleanliness, the health needs, the daily care," said Caffrey.
Family members say the woman refuses to take her medication and are working with county mental health and adult services to get her the help she needs. Both departments said situations like this can be tough because by law, they can't force someone to take meds or seek help.
In the meantime, the SPCA is appealing for help dealing with the influx of animals. The cats will have to stay at the shelter during the investigation. It already houses 300 other cats. "Many of the cats that are available for adoption, we're going to need some help foster-wise, volunteer help and resources for them so we can move them along so we can house these cats," said Caffrey.
Animal control officers initially thought they'd remove all of the cats from both locations Wednesday but the process was so time consuming, they'll have to return Thursday.