CICERO, Ill. (STMW) — Veterinarians euthanized all 81 cats found on the property of an elderly Cicero woman because the animals were infected with feline leukemia.

Firefighters conducting a June 20 well-being check found more than 50 cats at the home of an elderly woman in the 1800 block of 57th Avenue in Cicero, said town spokesman Ray Hanania.

Authorities have recovered a total of 81 cats, including six on Tuesday, and taken them to the Animal Care League in Oak Park, Hanania said. Every cat tested positive for feline leukemia, a highly contagious disease among cats that cannot spread to humans, and doctors recommended the animals be euthanized.

“Unfortunately, every one we brought from that home has this virus,” Hanania said. “It’s really painful for the cats. It’s a terrible for them, so we agreed with the recommendation with the Oak Park Animal Care League.”

Officials initially believed there were 12 dead cats in the woman’s yard, but further examination determined only one of the dead animals was a feline, Hanania said.

Hanania said authorities continue to set traps on the woman’s property and expect to find a “few” more cats this week.

Officials determined the condition of the home was “unsanitary” and “unhealthy,” and the woman is staying with friends or relatives while the house is being cleaned, Hanania said. She will not be cited.

Cicero Deputy Fire Marshall Ron Opalecky said the fire department will clean the property and attempt to recover costs from any insurance that might be available.

“She was in her upper-70s and was having trouble taking care of the animals and her property,” Hanania said. “We are helping clean the property. We do this for seniors.”

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