In staid and colonial Mount Vernon, Virginia, just a mile from the home of George and Martha Washington, animal control officers removed 273 feline creatures -- 86 of them dead -- after neighbors complained vehemently of odors last Friday. As of the following Monday, cats were still being found in the house, hidden in the walls and in the brick fireplace chimney. "I don't know how they got in there," said a Fairfax County police officer. Curbside, the home appears as charming and well cared for as others in the neighborhood, but it smells much different. Think feline feces, feline urine and the decomposing corpses of dead cats. Authorities posted an orange condemnation order on the home and ordered the the cat lovers, 82-old Mrs. Kneuven, her husband and daughter to leave. However, after the police left, the elderly woman returned to her home and ripped down the condemnation order. Animal-control officers were alerted and found her trying to smuggle out an additional 30 cats, bringing the total by Monday night to 303 confiscated animals. Traps were set for any remaining beasts, therefore the number is expected to rise.
Strong Odors Expose Northern Virginia House's Secret: The neighborhood of Mrs. Knueven is an enclave of stately homes that back up to George Washington's Mount Vernon plantation. Neighbors say that the woman was obsessed with cats. She spent years taking in strays, which then multiplied inside her home and caused years of headaches for them. They say she tried to mask the odor by burning incense in her back yard. The attempts were unsucessful, but fortunately she did not cause any house fires.
Few have any emotion except disgust for the cat lovers gone wild. However there is more to the story. In 2001, Fairfax County authorities secretly removed more than 100 cats from the Knueven household, and allowed Mrs. Kneuven to keep five cats as pets. Fairfax County Animal Countrol obviously neglected to require neutering of the animals, as now, four years later they have multiplied to over 300. And there is no other way, short of the unmentionable, to separate a cat from his home, as the old folk song reminds us:
Had lots of cats that wouldn't leave her alone.
She tried and tried to give them all away,
She gave them to a man going far, far away.
But the cats came back, the very next day.
But the cats came back, She thought they were goners,
But the cats came back, they just couldn't stay away, away, away.