Number of dead cats found in Knox County home rises to 38

Number of dead cats found in Knox County home rises to 38

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Thirty-five cats and six dogs were rescued from the home. Thirty-five cats and six dogs were rescued from the home.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The number of cats found dead Monday at an East Knox County home rose from 20 to 38, according to the sheriff's office.

Officials say the dead cats at 4535 Murphy Road were in various stages of decomposition inside locked cages and carriers. Two dead chameleons were also discovered.

Animal control officers said one room had 15 dead cats and the inside window sills had layers of dead flies.

It appears the homeowner, a woman living by herself, was staying in a front room and keeping personal belongings in the garage. Her name has not been released.

Thirty-nine live cats and six dogs were rescued from the home. The animals were taken to Young-Williams Animal Center.

Decomposing cats and feces covered many areas of the home. Authorities were tipped off by a neighbor who complained about a foul smell.

Young-Williams Animal Center Director Monica Brown says many of the cats that survived will probably need care.

"Anytime you have a hoarding case, especially with cats the ammonia level in the household is usually very strong. Think about what you smell. It's 10 times stronger when the animals are breathing that in so they'll probably have a little upper respiratory issue in each and every one of these kitties," Brown explained.

The surviving animals are being cared for and kept at the animal center as the case continues. No one can view or adopt the animals for now.

"The courts could take a long time. We have animals which have been here many months. It just depends on the severity of the case. Or the owner could relinquish her rights, which would speed this up quite a bit," Brown said.

She adds that the case is so upsetting she stayed up all night concerned about the animals and the woman who hoarded them.

"It's a horrible thing. These folks need help. It's something this community really needs to rally around. It's a disease just like alcoholism," Brown said.

Hoarders continually collect animals hoping to help, but the number of pets gets out of control.

Signs of animal hoarding include a foul odor at a home or many animals being taken in and out of a home.

Brown says although the pets in this case cannot yet be adopted, space is needed at the center and many animals still need to be adopted.

Pet food, litter and old blankets are always needed for the animals. Their wish list is posted on their website.

Charges are pending against the woman who lived at the home. Officers are working with the Knox County District Attorney General's Office on the type and scope of the charges.

Knox County Codes Enforcement posted signs on the property saying the house is unfit for human habitation.

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