A 70-year-old woman will face a felony charge in Grosse Pointe Woods court this month for hoarding at least 75 cats in her home and unventilated garage.
The woman, whose name will not be public until her arraignment Sept. 12, is charged with a single count of animal abandonment/cruelty to 10 or more animals. The charge, approved by the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office Monday, carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.
Grosse Pointe Woods police were called to the home on Oxford Road in late July after receiving a report that a cat was stuck at the top of a closed garage door where only the hind feet and tail could be observed, according to a report.
A responding officer discovered the cat was not stuck but had been in the area trying to cool at least part of its body down. The officer noted smelling urine upon getting close to the home and garage.
Neighbors also reported the odor.
When a detective returned to the house a few days later, he could hear many cats running in the garage and the strong odor of urine. The woman would not allow the detective into the home but said she had already contacted Mid-Michigan Cat Rescue to remove the cats but they were not to come for a month or so, according to the report.
Woods police contacted the rescue and a representative was able to remove the cats that following weekend. According to a report from that person, the woman had 75 living cats between the garage and the house--including one litter of month-old kittens found under a mattress; the woman said she was unaware those kittens existed.
The report notes the filthy conditions of the house and the garage as well as the poor condition of the cats, including being infested with fleas to the point they had open sores from scratching around their faces.
The rescuer also found a kitten that was hours old on the garage floor that was in poor condition, covered in filth and barely moving. Body parts of other kittens believed to be from that litter were also found--leading investigators to believe some of the adult cats ate them, according to the report.
High temperatures outside reaching the mid-90s made the temperature in the unventilated garage reach 110 degrees during the capture of the cats, which had to be done with a "catch pole" because of the dangerous conditions. Two cats died as a result of their capture related to their poor condition, the extreme heat and the added stress of the capture, according to the report.
The cats also had internal parasite infections that essentially left them emaciated and the fleas caused them to have anemia, confirmed by the color of their gums being white instead of pink or reddish, according to a report.
Due to the conditions and the number of cats, none of which had been spayed or neutered, officials anticipated finding additional remains of cats but they did not, the report stated. Female cats can have two to three litters per year. The report notes the woman was removing things from the house before they arrived to remove the cats.
Initially, the woman reported to police she believed she had about 15 cats in the garage and about 20 inside. During the capture, it was revealed there were 39 cats inside and 36 in the garage.
The woman was given citations by Woods police for violating city ordinances: maximum number of allowable animals; cruelty to animals; and creating a nuisance/unhealthy/unsanitary condition.
The case has been under review by the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and resulted in the felony charge Monday.
According to the police report, the woman was cited in 2007 for a similar offense--something she brought up to the detective and responding officers. She temporarily housed some of the cats at a garage she rented from someone else but then had to move them back to her house because that person wanted their garage back.
Patch is attempting to get more information about the condition of the cats from Mid-Michigan Cat Rescue.