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NY Couple Dies, Leaving SPCA Its Biggest Case Ever

SPCA Westchester calling for donations to assist the 150 sick and injured felines
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2023 8:57 AM CST
NY Couple Dies, Leaving 150 Cats in 'Squalor'
The scene.   (SPCA Westchester)

A man and woman found dead in a New York home were removed this week, followed by 100 of their 150 cats. Police who were called to perform a welfare check at the Yorktown Heights residence just before 10pm Monday found the couple's bodies but were initially unable to investigate due to the roaming felines. There were "starving" cats living in "filth and squalor" in every room of the "small and dilapidated" home, even in the ceiling and walls, said the Westchester Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which removed 100 cats with help from several animal welfare groups, per the Daily Voice and New York Daily News. The group said it was the largest single rescue in shelter history, per CBS News.

Many cats had severe injuries or infections. Others were malnourished and dehydrated. Some had even died. "This is the largest hoarding case SPCA Westchester has ever undertaken, and we desperately need the support of the community to help care for these neglected and sick cats who need urgent medical attention," said Executive Director Shannon Laukhuf, who called for donations of money, cat food, litter, towels, and blankets. The group estimates the cost of treatment at around $40,000. It notes several cats are pregnant and one "actually gave birth while in transit." Up to 50 cats remain at the home, being fed by volunteers, as local shelters are at capacity, WABC reports. Some cats, described as surprisingly friendly, could be ready for adoption next week.

As for the cat's deceased owners, "I think their intentions were good, that they tried to care for the cats. But they had to have been overwhelmed," Yorktown Police Chief Robert Noble said, per CBS. "I'm surprised people could live inside with the conditions present," he added, per WABC. The man and woman in their 50s were found dead in a bedroom inside the home, which was barely furnished. "We determined that there is not foul play involved," Noble said. However, he also noted that "any death not of natural causes is inherently suspicious," per the Daily Voice. The Westchester County Medical Examiner has yet to determine a cause of death. (Nearly 300 dogs were once found living in a New Jersey home.)

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