KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Animal control officers seized more than 20 cats Saturday from what they thought was an abandoned house.
Now a woman says she lives in the house and all those cats belong to her.
Stacey Barricks claims she's not a crazy cat lady.
"I don’t dump animals," Barricks said. "So I kept them. Then I had litters before I could get the males fixed. I got the first three males fixed, but then I had other males, it just kind of escalated a little bit. But I got it under control all the males are fixed now. I realize it’s a lot but when you take care of something for five years, you love it. You love it."
Barricks says she had 26 cats in the Northland home, where she and her fiance have been living for the last six weeks.
The house does not have utility service, and the home was not clean inside. The couple claims they have permission from a person they believed to be the property owner to rehab the house. But as they were working to make it livable, they say they returned Saturday to find all 26 of their cats had been taken.
"The door was unlocked," Barricks said. "All the cats were gone, and my stuff is just destroyed. There’s knick knacks broken, the curtains were ripped down off the windows, all my clothes were pulled out of the closet. I’m quite sure it was because they were chasing the cats trying to catch them, but still."
City ordinance allows only four animals per household, and Barricks says she didn't realize this house was within the city limits.
The couple has been told they can't live in the house any longer. Barricks says the city plans to board it up Monday, so they've been scrambling to move out all of their possessions.
In the meantime KC Pet Project says the cats will be ready for adoption by the end of the week. The agency is asking for donations of canned cat food to help care for them. Barricks is hopeful the city will allow her to keep four of the animals.