MESA, Ariz. (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — A woman has been found dead in her suburban Phoenix home where she lived with 31 cats.
Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies were forced to wear breathing equipment to enter the residence in Mesa, Ariz., early Tuesday. They had been called to check on 64-year-old Maria Elena Cimino.
It’s unclear how long Cimino had been dead, but authorities say she apparently died of natural causes.
Sheriff’s officials say it appears the woman was a hoarder and the home was in poor condition.
The sheriff’s office and the Humane Society are trying to rescue as many of the 31 feral cats and kittens as possible and decide where to keep them.
“It seems to be a pretty bad case,” Bretta Nelson, spokeswoman for the Arizona Humane Society, told the East Valley Tribune. “Many of the cats are sick.”
Authorities say many are severely underweight and appear to have upper respiratory infections and conjunctivitis.
“I didn’t know the conditions were that bad,” neighbor Susan Cordovano told KPHO-TV. “We knew she had animals but I thought maybe 10, 20.”
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