Steven Buffington, City of York building code official, talks with a member of the York City Fire Department outside a home on South Penn Street where
Steven Buffington, City of York building code official, talks with a member of the York City Fire Department outside a home on South Penn Street where nearly 50 cats were taken by the York County SPCA over two days. (John A. Pavoncellojpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

With each gust of the wind through a York City neighborhood on Wednesday came the smell of cat feces and urine.

"On a windy day it just carries," said Jeff Snyder. "The wind makes it worse."

Snyder lives next door to the home in the first block of South Penn Street where the smell originates. It's because there were more than 50 cats once living in the home.

On Tuesday, officials removed 30 cats from the home after their owner voluntarily turned them over to the York County SPCA, said Melissa Smith, its executive director.

A day later, SPCA officials returned with York City Police to serve a search warrant to remove 22 additional cats owned by another person who lives in the home.

"The situation was so dire in that living condition," Smith said, adding there was also a flea infestation in the home where a mother and daughter lived with the cats.

York City code enforcement officials on Wednesday also paid a visit to the home and ruled it unfit for human habitation, according to a notice posted on its front door.

Cats: The 52 cats were examined by a veterinarian and are now in a quarantine, Smith said.

When officials retrieved the cats on Wednesday, they had to wear white protective coveralls to shield themselves from fleas.

"In instances like that we have to protect ourselves," Smith said.

The removal of the cats is part of a longtime and ongoing investigation into the conditions in which they were kept, she said.


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The SPCA had attempted to resolve the issue in the past but had to resort to getting a search warrant to remove the 22 cats that are owned by the mother.

"There will be multiple (citations) filed," she said.

Living conditions: Snyder said the mother and daughter moved into the home about five months ago and previously lived in other houses in the first block of South Penn Street.

Smith confirmed there were similar cat-related issues when the pair lived in the other houses.

It didn't take long for Snyder to take notice of his new neighbors and their felines.

"It got real bad real quick," he said, adding the third floor of his house now reeks of cat feces and urine.

Douglas Jackson and Beth Baublitz said they also took note of the smell of cat waste when they would sit outside of the apartment building they live in just down the street.

"I can't even sit on my front porch because of the smell," Jackson said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.