A Mesa woman was found Tuesday dead in her home with 31 feral cats and kittens.
The body of Maria Elena Cimino, believed to be in her 60s, was discovered inside the home in the 9300 block of East Dallas Street. The home, which is near Ellsworth and Adobe roads, is an unincorporated area of Mesa in Maricopa County.
Brandon Jones, a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, told ABC15 that deputies were called to check on an elderly woman at the home where Cimino was found deceased. It was not known how long Cimino had been dead. An autopsy will be conducted Wednesday to determine cause of death, according to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The Arizona Humane Society also headed to the home to trap the cats. As of about 4 p.m. Tuesday, 31 cats had been removed from the home, many of them severely underweight and appearing to have upper respiratory infections and conjunctivitis, according to Bretta Nelson, spokeswoman for the Arizona Humane Society. Veterinarians will conduct medical and health reviews to see which ones can be saved.
Nelson described the situation at the Mesa home, which reeked of ammonia, as “not very good.”
SWAT deputies from MCSO responded to the scene with self-contained breathing apparatus to allow them to enter the residence and get the cats. The masks were needed due to the condition of the residence, which was deemed hazardous.
“It seems to be a pretty bad case,” Nelson said. “Many of the cats are sick.”
Nelson also said that although people who often hoard cats love the animals and have good intentions, they become overwhelmed with the number of animals after they begin reproducing. And then the homeowner can no longer afford to feed the animals or provide them with health care.
The cats currently are being housed at the humane society’s Second Chance Hospital.
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