A welfare check led to the discovery of 127 cats, mostly black, crowded into one apartment in Lakeside Thursday, San Diego County Animal Services officials said.
"I had a dream this was going to happen, so I knew it was going to," Grant Israel told NBC 7. Israel lives in the apartment with his 89-year-old mother, his daughter and her husband.
Sheriff's Elder Abuse Detectives found dozens of cats jam-packed into the apartment on Channel Road, during the check. The location is just south of State Route 67 and west of the Lakeside Community Center, between Woodside and Julian Avenue.
"We tried to give them away," Israel said. "We gave away 15 cats, but we tried, and nobody wants black cats.”
After investigating the situation, an 89-year-old woman was taken to the hospital for a precautionary medical evaluation. Israel said the authorities told him the apartment was a bad environment for his mother.
It all began when his daughter brought a few cats home. Then another cat came along and impregnated one of the cats and ran off, explained Israel.
"We had seven babies and seven were blind and we couldn’t give them away," Israel said. "So the blind ones started having kittens—and pretty soon—I took like 16 to get neutered, but the rest of them didn’t get neutered so they just kept populating.”
Israel and his mother lived on one side of the 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment, and his daughter and her husband lived on the other side.
A concerned neighbor alerted the city and his landlord when he noticed an alarming stench emanating from the apartment, SDSO Lt. Eddie Brock said. The neighbor, who preferred to remain anonymous, told NBC 7 the scent of cat ammonia was "indescribable"-- an impossible smell to forget.
County Animal Services took all of the cats into custody and transferred them to an animal care facility in Bonita and Carlsbad. Some were so young they were immediately sent to foster homes.
One had to be euthanized last night.
Deputies said most of the cats are already neutered and spayed. Each cat will be examined and evaluated before they are put up for adoption in local shelters.
Israel said he hopes to keep his cat Mikey, who is recognizable from the others because of his distinctive bent tail. The family told NBC 7 that they would like to keep six of the cats, but all the felines were taken into custody by Animal Services.
The residents have cooperated with the authorities, and no charges have been filed at this time. There have been no arrests either, according to the sheriff's department.
Detectives were assisting County Adult Protective Services (APS) with the welfare check when they found numerous cats. Animal Service officials could be seen rushing in and out of the apartment while whisking carts of cats into their trucks throughout the afternoon.
Most of the cats looked relatively healthy, despite overcrowding in the apartment, deputies said.