NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Police are investigating after several cats, both alive and deceased, were found inside a Newport home Wednesday morning.
Rhode Island Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) Humane Enforcement Officer Joe Warzycha said a local building official notified them of the situation after receiving several complaints of a foul odor coming from the home.
Warzycha said the inspector tried to speak with the elderly woman who lives there, but she wouldn’t let him inside.
That’s when the RISPCA executed a search warrant at the Kay Street home and found 18 cats living in squalid conditions. They also found 26 deceased cats inside a freezer in the home.
“The living conditions were very unsanitary, very cluttered, just with household debris,” Warzycha said. “You couldn’t walk anywhere in the house without stepping over or on something. Certain areas of the house were in worse shape than others, but the areas where the cats themselves were living were accumulated with feces, urine… just the odor was very difficult to bear.”
All of the living cats were transported to the RISPCA and the Potter League for Animals.
“The conditions of the cats that we found alive, the majority of them were in very poor condition,” Warzycha said. “They were very underweight… Had feces on them.”
Warzycha said while the cats were in bad shape, none of them had health issues that would require euthanasia.
At this time, the RISPCA is not providing any information on the suspect but said criminal charges will eventually be filed.
The situation is “a standard case of hoarding,” according to Warzycha. He said he can’t think of a rational explanation as to why the woman would keep the cats in deplorable conditions, but said it does signal the possibility of an underlying mental health issue.
Warzycha said this isn’t the first time animals were seized from the home. Back in 2010, investigators seized more than 40 cats, one dog and one snake while responding to a small fire.