Police arrested three Connecticut adults last week and charged each of them with more than 100 counts of animal cruelty after they were found hoarding what authorities estimate were more than 200 cats.
Authorities arrested James Thomen Sr., 61; Laura Thomen, 53; and Marissa O’Brien, 30, on Oct. 19, charging each with 106 counts of animal cruelty and two counts of risk of injury to a minor, according to a statement from the Winchester Police Department.
Another warrant is pending for a fourth adult, police said.
The arrests come four months after police found the cats at the family’s Winsted home after receiving an anonymous call about a sick cat in June.
Officers found what they believe were more than 200 cats on the scene, along with “horrible conditions” that led them to contact the state Department of Children and Families to remove a 6-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy living in the house and place them with relatives, according to police.
“You couldn’t even see the floor — it was full of cats,” Chief William Fitzgerald Jr. told NBC News.
Many of the cats were sick and had eye infections, Fitzgerald said. “That’s why those [animal cruelty] charges were there,” he added.
A dozen cats had to be taken for emergency vet care, NBC Connecticut reported at the time, adding that most also had fleas. Two dogs and a ferret were also removed from the home, according to the outlet.
Through a subsequent investigation, authorities proved the family owned at least 106 of the cats, using records from veterinarians and statements from the family, Fitzgerald said.
The family began collecting the cats because Laura Thomen wanted to bring them in from the cold and feed them, Fitzgerald said.
“It probably started out as a good idea — humanitarian type of thing — but it obviously got out of hand,” he said.
The cats have since been distributed to shelters throughout the state, and some have been adopted, according to Fitzgerald. The house where they were found has since been condemned, NBC Connecticut reported.
Of the time that passed between police’s arrival at the home on June 13 and last week’s arrest, Fitzgerald said authorities first had to ensure the safety of the children before then removing the cats from the home and beginning their investigation.
“It took time — it was a very complicated case,” he said.
The trio’s arraignment is set for Nov. 1.