Sixty-seven dead cats and 99 live cats were found in the home of an upstate New York woman suspected of having severe hoarding issues.
Police investigated the home of Schoharie County woman Irene Vandyke this week after receiving a report that the home smelled strongly of cat urine and feces. What they found were 99 cats living in crates “stacked floor-to-ceiling in unsanitary conditions,” the Albany Times Union reported.
Upon looking into the kitchen freezer at the house, police also found 67 dead cats stuffed into plastic bags.
The house was condemned and is considered unfit for human habitation in its current state, the Times Union said.
Vandyke, 50, appears to fit the profile of a hoarder, according to local authorities cited by the newspaper. The psychological condition known as compulsive hoarding disorder is closely related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it causes sufferers to collect increasingly large numbers of items, frequently in incredibly unsanitary conditions. For people in advanced stages of the disorder -- as shown by Vandyke -- psychological treatment is usually recommended.
The Times Union noted that Vandyke’s husband, Russell Jack Vandyke, died suddenly in December 2010, so some have speculated that the unexpected death of her husband may have greatly exacerbated Vandyke’s habit of collecting animals.
Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond told the newspaper he feels sympathy for Vandyke, but he also would like to charge the woman for animal cruelty because of the deaths of the 67 cats and the unsafe conditions for the 99 living cats.
“We felt sorry for her and bad for the kittens at the same time,” Desmond said. But, he added, “I’d like to see her charged.”
Kerrie Colin, the manager of a nearby animal shelter, told the Times Union she has known about Vandyke’s problem for more than two years, but has been unable to help due to Vandyke’s extreme attatchment to the animals.
"The minute anyone tried to take her cats, she freaked out and threw them off her property," Colin said. "She definitely had a hoarder mentality. She's not a horrible person. She just needs help and counseling."