Holly Springs, N.C. — Police and Wake County animal control officers seized dozens of sick and feral cats from a Holly Springs home last week, according to an Oct. 10 search warrant released Monday.
Police conducting a well-being check at 405 N. Main St. on Oct. 3 smelled a foul odor coming from inside the home and noticed vultures all around the outside of the house.
No one was home, but officers noticed several cats inside the home with feces everywhere and an overwhelming smell of ammonia.
Authorities were able to obtain a search warrant and removed 42 cats.
Jennifer Federico, director of the Wake County Animal Center in Raleigh, said the animals had to be euthanized, partly because of their conditions and because the shelter does not adopt out feral animals.
"They are not in homes, because they are not acclimated to people," Federico said. "It's as if you have a raccoon in your house."
Police said Tuesday that charges are pending against Teresa Underwood, who's lived at the home since 1972.
Underwood admitted to living with the cats and said she began taking them in after she saw a vulture hurt a kitten.
"No animals have been abused," she said, adding that she was planning on moving them to the country and beginning a cat rescue on property she owns.
"I had the cats inside. I probably shouldn't have," she said.
Holly Springs police detective Michael Stone said the house is unlivable and in the process of being condemned and that a hazmat crew had to be called to the home before the cats could be seized.
"The smell of the ammonia from all of that in there was so overwhelming that they had to leave before it started affecting their health," Stone said.
Underwood, he said, is now staying with a relative.