FIRST ON 3: Large number of cats found at Walker County home - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

FIRST ON 3: As many as 157 cats found at Walker County home

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Two cats sit in a transport crate Thursday afternoon. WRCB photo Two cats sit in a transport crate Thursday afternoon. WRCB photo
WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - At least 157 cats are being rescued from a Walker County home in a case of pet hoarding. Animal Control responded to a complaint of an intense smell of animal urine coming from a house in the 200 block of Carolyn Dr. in Chickamauga on Thursday.

"It smelled like pet urine. I was trying to figure out how my dogs were doing that," said Dianne McNutt. She couldn't figure out the source of her neighborhood's urine smell.

The odor was coming from McNutt's next door neighbor, who was hoarding more than 150 cats. The residence belongs to Judy Stephens.

"I had no idea. I knew she had cats, but I didn't know she had (that many) cats," McNutt said.

"It's pretty bad, you can imagine with that many cats," said Curtis Patterson, Walker Co. Animal Control Supervisor.

Animal Control workers made several trips to rescue the cats while wearing masks to protect them from unsanitary conditions.

As of Thursday afternoon, the cat count was up to 157. "Possibly more, it keeps going up," Patterson said.

Full grown cats and litters of kittens were discovered on the property. At least 40 cats were inside the trailer. Dozens were kept in a single pin on the porch, and the rest were elsewhere throughout the property.

The owner told officers she rescued 12 cats after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the cats started multiplying out of control.

Patterson said it's the largest case of cat hoarding he's seen in his 26 year career with the county. Although the cats were well-fed, many of them are very sick.

“Feline distemper, leukemia, and I think (the owner) said the vet even told her some of them have AIDS," Patterson said.

The cats are going to the county animal shelter for examination. Neighbors are relieved the stench will soon be eradicated from the neighborhood.

"The mystery is solved on where the odor's coming from. I couldn't understand it," said McNutt.

Animal Control said the cat owner is cooperating. Patterson did not rule out animal neglect or cruelty, but no word yet if charges could be forthcoming.
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