More than 70 cats were removed from a home in Annandale, Va., Friday.
Authorities said declared the house uninhabitable, but the homeowners said they were just running a cat adoption rescue operation in the house.
Fairfax County Animal Control officers said the lost count at 69 cats.
"Conditions are pretty bad," said Sgt. Mary Zambrono. "The air quality is very unsafe for humans as well as animals."
"I've been living there for years, and I don't see anything wrong with the air," said homeowner Eleanor Kaufer.
Kaufer, whose housemate was at work as the cats were removed, said they took cats to a Pet Smart for adoption weekly.
Officers said some of the cats were sick with a respiratory infection that had spread through the colony. The women simply wound up with too many cats to handle.
"People, because of the kindness of their hearts, they have big hearts, they want to help as many animals as they can," Zambrono said. "It's very easy to get overwhelmed."
Kaufer may be allowed to have pets at the home again in the future, but a judge likely will limit the number of pets she can own, according to animal control.