Woman found living with dead cats

June 25th, 2009 by

My Fox Tampa Bay
VALRICO – Hillsborough County Animal Services entered a Valrico home Wednesday with a search warrant, and found five dead cats, piles of garbage, and an elderly woman living in the middle of it all.

“She was sleeping in the bedroom amongst fecal matter, dead and dying cats. It’s just a horrible horrible situation,” said Pam Perry, with Hillsborough County Animal Services.

Animal Services removed the five dead cats from the house, and also removed at least ten other cats, which will likely have to be put down. Perry says there could be 10 to 30 other cats in the house and roaming the neighborhood.

Investigators say trash and even new items never opened were piled high throughout the house, along with an excessive amount of feces.

74-year-old Alice Santy was living in the home. Forensic Psychologist Dr. Valerie McClain says the behavior can be difficult to understand.

“I think what happens is a person develops an affection or even an obsession with particular objects,” McClain told FOX 13. “It could be cats. It could be newspapers, Readers Digest, any type of collection. They develop an emotional bond with items.”

McClain says hoarders can have a delusional sense of what’s normal.

“If a person has had strokes or medical conditions that their brain is impaired, they may not have the insight and awareness to be mindful of that or even think the smell means it’s dirty,” she said.

Neighbors say they could smell the stench. They say they tried to talk to Santy and her husband about the cats and the conditions in the home.

“It really is sad. I don’t think that she really had a clue,” said Linda Freda.

“We’ve brought up the cats and they have indicated that there’s no cats,” said neighbor Deana Hancock.

McClain says it can be hard to help.

“They’re basically not going to be able to process the information, so out of sight out of mind. Once the person leaves, they’re probably go ‘we’re going to go on about our business.. me and the cats.’”

Neighbors say they didn’t know the situation was as bad as it was. Santy’s husband moved out and left her at the home, according to investigators. They say they will speak with him.

McClain says signs of a problem are evident.

“Also if the person just seems to have periods of being out of it. To where they’re not processing information or not attending to their own personal hygiene or medical care,” McClain said.
No charges are filed.

Santy was taken to a hospital, investigators say, for mental illness.

3 Responses

  1. Chris James

    Creepy Cat Lady…

  2. Eric

    She should be executed

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