Chicago Animal Care and Control workers have removed more than 100 cats from an abandoned house in Chicago and even more felines were expected to be removed Tuesday as animal advocates work to get the cats out of the home before it is boarded up by the city.
Dozens of cats were found living in the home in the 6200 block of West Roscoe Avenue in the Belmont Central neighborhood after residents reported "deplorable" conditions and a horrible smell in the area, officials said. Several cats, most of which were black, were seen climbing out of windows and crawling through an alley near the home Monday morning.
According to Mimi Simon, Director of Public Affairs for Chicago Department of Buildings, the home was deemed "uninhabitable due to dozens of cats living on the premises, animal waste throughout the property and lack of functional utilities."
An emergency order to vacate the property was issued, Simon said.
"We'd see 50 cats lounging around, black cats," one neighbor, Katybeth Ruscitti told NBC Chicago. "People would come to a screeching halt."
There was a notice from the city posted on the door ordering the building to be vacated. Another sign says anyone in the home must be out by Tuesday, when the city plans to board up the residence.
At least 101 cats were removed from the home by Tuesday morning, but many more remained inside. Tree House Humane Society, which is helping with the removal of the cats, called it the worst hoarding case they've ever seen.
Neighbors said a man who once lived in the home was seen occasionally returning to the house and feeding the cats through a broken window. They said they later noticed the cats roaming the neighborhood and want the so-called "cat crisis on Roscoe Street" handled.
"It's a health concern for everyone," said neighbor Christian Leon. "Especially in this neighborhood with kids playing and stuff. There's a lot of loose cats around, they might not be sanitary. It's dangerous."
Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th) said his office is working to remedy the situation.
"The house that's immediately East of it, the children have been unable to come outside because of the smell, the flies, it's just a deplorable situation," he said. "Our office is trying to work closely with the tree house shelter, with animal control, to try and get some resolution here."
Animal advocates are worried the home will be boarded up before the felines can be saved.
"Killing [the cats] is not the solution," said resident Terri Barreras.
CACC said it’s working with the alderman’s office and neighbors, along with animal rescue group Tree House Humane Society, to trap and relocate the cats.
The Anti-Cruelty Society said it is was also working with Animal Control and noted the cats will be taken to Animal Control, the Anti-Cruelty Society and Tree House Humane Society following their removal.
Liz Houtz with the Tree House Human Society said several shelters in Chicago were trying to postpone the boarding up of the home for fear the cats wouldn't be removed in time. Houtz said most shelters are in the height of "kitten season" and are at capacity. She said they hope they can find room for the animals and get them into homes as soon as possible. Click here for details.
It was not immediately clear if the previous homeowner could face any charges.