Before a custody hearing Thursday at the Ellis County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Courthouse in Waxahachie, an agreement was reached between the SPCA of Texas and the animal owner, signed by Judge Jackie Miller Jr., for the animal owner to relinquish ownership of 25 cats to the SPCA of Texas.

The cats will now be individually evaluated for potential adoption or placement on a case by case basis.

Under the authority of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, the SPCA of Texas took custody of 25 cruelly confined, neglected cats from a property in Avalon on Wednesday, Dec. 5.

The cats were living inside a feces-filled, urine-soaked house on the property, and the stench of ammonia was so intense that it burned SPCA of Texas staff members’ eyes, noses and throats.

The cats appeared to be suffering from various issues, including inflamed skin, eye discharge and wounds. Some of the cats had such severe eye discharge that they could not open their eyes. No food was observed in the residence.

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office contacted the SPCA of Texas on Nov. 27 regarding the cats’ living conditions.

Upon visiting the property later that same day, an SPCA of Texas investigator agreed that the cats were cruelly confined due to the strong odor of ammonia that could be smelled from the end of the driveway, about 50 yards from the house, and that they were neglected.

The animal owner refused to allow the sheriff’s office and the SPCA of Texas access to the house.

The animal owner also stated that they did not have the means to feed or care for the cats.

The SPCA of Texas returned to the property on Friday, Nov. 30. The animal owner again refused to allow access to the house. At that point, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department and the SPCA of Texas concurred that was in the animals’ best interest to remove them.

The morning of Dec. 5, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office sought a seizure warrant and the SPCA of Texas took custody of the animals.

SPCA of Texas vehicles transported the animals to the Perry Animal Care Center at 8411 Stacy Road in McKinney, Texas, where they have been examined by medical staff and cared for until Thursday’s custody hearing.