LUDLOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- New information is emerging about a cat hoarding situation discovered late last week in Ludlow.
Neighbors are now speaking out about the signs they'd seen over the years that suggest conditions were getting dangerously unsanitary.
Police told us no charges have been filed yet and they haven't identified the occupant of 237 West Street, but neighbors told us roaming cats had become an increasingly frequent problem around the home.
Still, they said they weren't prepared for what animal control officers found inside.
"I figured it was about the cats in the house," said neighbor Gail Sherman.
Though Sherman suspected cats were the cause of a home search on Friday, she had no idea how bad the situation got at 237 West Street.
"When they took out 21 cats, I was really shocked," Sherman added.
However, neighbors said that the cats had been roaming around the property for years, urinating on neighbor's plants, and for Sherman, worse.
"Our dog was in the yard and got cat scratch fever from it and almost died from them because they got into a fight. You could smell the cat urine outside. We had tried a couple times to go to her house to talk to her. All you saw was cats in the windows," Sherman explained.
Western Mass News spoke with the neighbor who called animal control last week. She asked not to be identified, but she too saw cats through the window of the home without any humans to care for them.
"We knew the neighbor moved out. We knew she had animals, but she said she was going to find homes for the cats," the neighbor noted.
Weeks later, the concerned neighbor said the felines were still inside the house, but claims the occupants tried to keep it a secret.
"Curtains, so we can't see the dogs and the cats by looking in," the unidentified neighbor said.
The neighbor called the MSPCA and Ludlow Police. The MSPCA said that no matter which agency responds first, it's important to speak up.
"If you see an animal that you have a concern about, call somebody, call somebody in law enforcement and speak for that animal because they can't for themselves," said MSPCA Officer Christine Allenberg.
For one neighbor, taking notice also meant taking pity on cats she claims were neglected.
"Over the years, she's let cats out. She won't let it back in. She said it was ugly," the unidentified neighbor noted.
Ludlow Police told us that they are waiting for one more witness to determine if animal cruelty charges will be filed. They expect an answer by later this week.
If they are filed, they carry a penalty of up to five years in state prison and a $2,500 fine.
Animal control officers told us that all 21 cats are in the care of the MSPCA and that they will be looking for new homes at one of their three adoption centers.