A house was once so overrun with cats that its floor registers were disintegrating from urine and neighbors were complaining of the stench.
The house in question is in an historic part of Iowa City. It was owned by a person who kept 20 cats. He or she (we don’t know the name) moved out some years ago but the cats remained to be looked after by a member of the family and a helper. They failed to do a decent job because at that point, the house became a giant cat enclosure with little input from the human caretakers. One of the rooms became a cat toilet of gargantuan proportions. It was filled with cat litter and food! You can imagine what it was like.
The cats’ urine had permeated the structure of the house and corroded metal components. The cats had gotten into all the small spaces of the house and the attic.
An environmental specialist who visited the house said that he became light-headed due to the pungent aroma of cats’ urine.
The urine had penetrated the home’s surfaces to such an extent that the new owner decided it would make more sense to demolish it and start again because it could not reasonably be refurbished.
As the home is in an historic district planning permission is hard to achieve. The local authority have resisted because they want to preserve the style and character of the area despite the fact that the purchaser, a developer, wants to build in a sympathetic style.
The purchaser says:
“They’re doing everything possible, in my opinion, to not allow us to do this,”
Understandable. Also, it must be a first in the state for a developer to argue that a house will be uninhabitable due to cat pee, even after extensive renovations! It is an argument that probably won’t wash.
The story does, however, highlight how disastrously contaminated homes can be when cat owners fail to take charge of a large number of domestic cats who by all accounts were permanently indoors unsupervised.
I also feel sorry for the cats. They were badly neglected.