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Dozens Of Stray Cats Living In Abandoned Bungalow In Belmont Central

CHICAGO (CBS) -- City officials and others have been working to try to capture dozens of stray cats living in an abandoned house in the Belmont Central neighborhood.

The city declared the brick bungalow at 6207 W. Roscoe St. uninhabitable in April. Sometime later, after the lone resident was evicted, but the windows were left open, and black cats poured out of the house, and invaded the neighborhood.

Neighbors said workers didn't board up the home at the time the homeowner was evicted, fearing the cats inside would die. Windows were left open for the cats to come and go.

Neighbors have said, although the cats wander the neighborhood, they make their home inside the vacant bungalow. Through an open window, trash is visible strewn all over the floors, and junk is piled high inside and outside the house.

Neighbor Barbara Korus said "it's heartbreaking, because you can see that these animals are really, they're vulnerable."

She and the alderman's office called it a hoarding situation inside the home.

"This quantity of cats didn't just happen overnight," Korus said.

Chicago Animal Care & Control crews were working with neighbors and animal rescue groups to save the cats.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said he was only notified about the situation three weeks ago. Neighbors said, around the same time, they began to notice an overpowering stench, and started to notice lots of stray black cats around the house at 6207 W. Roscoe St.

Neighbors said they didn't realize just how many cats were making the bungalow their home until recently.

"We started to see more and more animals outside," Korus said.

Neighbors estimated at least 100 cats are living at the house.


An "Off Limits" sign posted on the home indicates the city visited the home on April 27, before Villegas took office. He was elected to replace Ald. Nicholas Sposato, who switched wards to the neighboring 38th Ward, after new ward boundaries were drawn.

As for why the house remains in such poor condition months after the city visited, Korus said "someone must have noticed the seriousness of the situation, but there were no agencies deployed to take care of the problem."

"I don't know who dropped the ball," she added.

For his part, Villegas said he wondered "why did it so long for the community to come to the alderman, even if it was not me before -- the previous alderman -- to bring this issue up."

Migdalia Ortiz lives next door, and said her family has been a prisoner in its own home.

"It's been terrible. The smell and the odor, it just it engulfs our whole entire house. We've had our air on since April, because we cannot open our windows at all," she said.

She also said she can't let her two daughters play in their yard, because the cats have taken over.

"Animal Control has picked up about 34 cats," she said. "I know Tree House (a Chicago-based cat rescue group) has picked up 14, and the other night, we counted about additional 44 cats," she said.

Ortiz and other neighbors hope all the cats are caught before another attempt is made to board up the home. Then they hope the cats are put up for adoption, if they're healthy enough.

Animal Control workers and rescue groups were expected to remove the remaining cats over the next couple days. Tree House Humane Society is assisting the city in dealing with the animals.

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