About 300 cats, nearly a third of them dead, were removed from an elderly woman's Virginia home after neighbors complained of a stench coming from the house, police said on Tuesday.
The house, less than a mile from late President George Washington's historic Mount Vernon estate, looked neat from the outside with manicured lawns and bright flowers, but inside it was overflowing with wild cats, feces and urine.
"Cats were coming out of the cabinets and drawers and were inside the walls. There were hundreds of them," Fairfax County Police officer Richard Henry told reporters.
He said animal control officers removed 273 cats -- 86 of them dead -- over the weekend and slapped a condemnation order on the door of the house. The woman, her husband and daughter were told to leave.
Later on, Henry said, the woman returned and attempted to smuggle an additional 30 cats from the house. These animals were confiscated, bringing the total to more than 300.
Ruth Knueven, 82, was charged with failing to care for her animals and of improperly disposing of them. Dozens of dead cats were found in plastic bins around the house.
Most of the cats were inbred and sick and were unfit for adoption, said Henry. "These were feral cats who were given free range of the house and almost all of them will, unfortunately, have to be put down," he said.
Two weeks earlier, a 58-year-old woman in nearby Falls Church, Virginia, had her home condemned after neighbors complained of an overpowering stench coming from the property. She had hoarded 88 cats and 29 of them were dead.