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23 cats rescued in 'horrific' animal cruelty case, rescue group says

WARNING: This story contains graphic content that may be sensitive to some readers & viewers.

MONROE, Wash. (KOMO) - A Snohomish County animal sanctuary rescued 23 cats from an alleged hoarder in Eastern Washington, authorities said Tuesday.

Another 15 cats were found dead, said Laura Henderson, executive director of Pasado's Safe Haven. The Grant County home they were living in had below-freezing temperatures and lacked basic food and water, leading the cats to cannibalize one another, she added.

"Animals are suffering and dying. We rescued 23 but unfortunately 15 didn't make it because help didn't arrive soon enough," Henderson said. "Horrifically, the cats died from starvation or exposure we presume. The other cats had no other choice but to eat the bodies of the cats that had already died."

The elderly woman living in the home was taken to an assisted living facility, Henderson added. Representatives from the Grant County Sheriff's Office did not immediately return calls for comment on whether the woman might face charges.

The cats are now being nursed back to health, said Kendra Madison, clinical care manager at the sanctuary.

"It's awful. It's inappropriate for any living being and the cats have no other option," Madison said. "When it's that cold and they're that hungry, it's awful to see."

Once the cats are healthy, they will be adopted out to the public. One of the rescue organizations helping with that effort is Purrfect Pals, a group based in Arlington.

"How do we begin to raise the value of a cat's life to people who will so easily disregard?" asked Linda Benson, the group's interim executive director. "You hold these animals, you see them, you look them in the eyes, and you just want to give them everything you can, because they deserve it."

For more information on adopting the cats, click here.

" A lot of them are really, really shy," Henderson added. "But thankfully they're safe with us now."

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