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Animal Workers Take Over 50 Black Cats From Home, Ready Them For Adoption

By Kyla Gardner | August 10, 2015 2:39pm | Updated on August 10, 2015 5:25pm
 Cats in Belmont Central Home
Cats in Belmont Central Home
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DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner

BELMONT CRAGIN — Looking to adopt a cat?

Chicago suddenly has a new batch of black cats soon to be up for adoption after a Northwest Side home overrun with kitties was slowly drained of its population Monday.

Some say the final number of cats inside the home at 6207 W. Roscoe St. — pouring out of the basement, attic and even the garage — could top 100.

Kyla Gardner says you could smell the cats from past the sidewalk:

In the heat of Monday afternoon, the stench of the animals run amok was noticeable from the parkway.

"I feel like I'm going to faint from the smell of that window," said Erica Roewade, a worker from Paws Chicago, who helped take away some of the cats. "This is bad. This is one of the worst.”

She called the home "a filthy hoarder situation."

A captured cat and Animal Care and Control worker eye each other. [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

For next-door neighbor Luis Ortiz and his son, it's been an "indoor summer" due to the odor across the fence, hoards of flies, and that the cats are using his newly-laid mulch as a litter box.

"We can't open the windows. The air conditioner's been on since April," Ortiz said. "I've never smelled anything like it: rotten, with urine and feces."

Until the cats began streaming out of the house several weeks ago — after gangway windows were broken — residents thought their neighbor may have had large amounts of garbage or even a body in the home.

"We had no clue as to how many cats there were," Ortiz said.

By mid-afternoon, animal workers had removed a total of 55 cats, with many more to come. Lured by canned Friskies chicken, the cats — nearly all of them black — wandered into humane traps.

Several cats are trapped in the back yard of a Belmont Cragin home where there are expected to be more than 100. [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

The home has three notices posted to it, one of which lists the owner of the property as Bob Sawicki.

On April 27, the City of Chicago posted a neon sign that no one is to enter the building. On July 15, the Anti-Cruelty Society responded to a complaint, leaving a number for the owner to call: "Call Bill. Re: Cats. Will help you."

On Wednesday, another city notice to vacate was posted, with a deadline of Monday.

Neighbors said the owner of the property had been stopping by as recently as July, going in and out of the home and possibly leaving food.

The house at 6207 W. Roscoe St. in Belmont Central had dozens of cats inside. [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

The cats are most active at dusk, Ortiz said.

"At night it looks like something out of a horror film; you see all the cat eyes," he said.

Neighbors down the block, further from the smell, still found their new feline neighbors to be an more than an annoyance.

Edith Pawlowski has lived on the block for 20 years, and said her two kids — ages 14 and 9 — haven't been playing outside recently because of the felines.

"You never know if they have disease," she said.

The man who lives across the street, who only identified himself as Roman, said his dog got hit by a car Aug. 3 when it chased after the cats and ran across the street.

Eight-year-old Stella was a small terrier.

"I cry every day," he said.

Down the block, Katy Beth Ruscitti said the hoard left her unsettled.

"You walk by 50 black cats, it's kind of a shocker. It's almost frightening, almost eerie. Halloweenish," Ruscitti said.

Pawlowski said she hopes the home is cleaned after the cats are removed.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the home will be boarded up as an unsafe, vacant property, said Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings.

Family and Support Services will be on hand in case the owner arrives, and the last of the cats will be taken in by Animal Care and Control.

"Hopefully there'll be some sort of cleaning," Simon said. "They'll board it up and secure it so it is no longer a nuisance to the neighborhood."

Two cats prowl the back yard of a home in the 6200 block of West Roscoe Street. [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

As for the cats, they'll go to Animal Care and Control, Paws Chicago and Tree House Human Society.

Paws worker Roewade said no cats would be left behind, even though the number of animals coming out of the home was high.

'We're making it work," she said.

Paws Chicago will spay, neuter and vaccinate the cats, and some will be fostered and ultimately, adoptable, said Sarah Ahlberg, Paws spokesperson, in an email. Paws is asking for foster volunteers.

Tree House is also asking for donations, supplies and foster homes.

Some of the cats may also go into a feral cat programs around the city, Roewade said.

Brad Powers, spokesman for Chicago Animal Care and Control, said the agency would have better details about the ongoing case Tuesday.

"We're doing everything we can for these animals," he said.

Two Animal Care and Control workers lay traps in the backyard of a Belmont Central house overrun with cats. [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

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