150 cats found at Winsted home, police investigation

Local and state authorities today are expected to finish removing up to 150 cats from this home at 143 Moore Ave. in Winsted. Kurt Moffett Republican-American

WINSTED — Local and state authorities today are expected to finish picking up as many as 150 cats from a single-family home at 143 Moore Ave.

Police Chief William T. Fitzgerald said his department received an anonymous complaint Monday from a neighbor about the well-being of one cat. Officers who went to the house discovered there were many, many more.

A woman who lives at the house told officers she started taking in stray cats because “she didn’t want them to freeze and she was feeding them, and obviously it got out of hand,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a hoarding incident. We’re trying to assist her and she wants to get rid of the cats, but we were told there’s over 100 cats.”

Fitzgerald said he did not have the woman’s name, but she is one of six adults who live there. They do not own the home; they are tenants, he said.

Two elementary school children who were staying there with their grandparents were removed by the state Department of Children and Families and placed with relatives, Fitzgerald said.

Officers who went to the house told the chief “the smell is unbelievable,” he said.

Winsted Town Manager Joshua S. Kelly. RA archives

A Republican-American reporter who went to the home Thursday noted the stnch from the front porch. Numerous bugs flew above black trash bags, broken computers and televisions, and other debris.

A woman who answered the door at 143 Moore Ave. denied having any cats. When the reporter asked her about the calico cat he could see jumping from the kitchen cabinets, she said she had one and added there are two black-and-white strays who hang around but don’t belong to anyone. She declined to give her name.

Fitzgerald said the animal control officer and a couple of patrolmen in hazardous material suits already removed 80 to 85 cats. They have done it slowly, he said, taking 20 to 25 per day over the past few days. They were then brought to animal shelters around the state.

There also are two dogs, he said.

Town Manager Joshua S. Kelly said he was trying to find an available veterinarian who can assist with the removal and then inspect, treat and clean the cats. Those that are considered healthy will be put up for adoption.

Kelly said the cats removed today will be brought to the recently vacated Batcheller School because the town does not have any other space large enough to put the cats. He said shelters around the state are full.

Fitzgerald said the case involves multiple local and state agencies, from state animal control to the town’s social services coordinator, state public health personnel and the town’s building inspector.

“I’m not looking at this right now as a criminal,” the chief said. “The priority is the safety of the animals and the safety of the children. When we have all the evidence after going in the house again, we can determine whether any other action is forthcoming.”

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