A seemingly abandoned house in Philadelphia was actually home to 16 residents -- all of them cats.
A contractor discovered nine adult cats and seven kittens trapped in the walls of a recently purchased home in West Philadelphia on Sunday. The contractor brought the "wall cats" to the Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia, where they are being taken care of until someone adopts them.
When the contractor arrived at the house to tear down the walls, a kitten came tumbling out of a wall with dry rot. He realized there must be more cats trapped in the walls, and spent eight hours rescuing every cat he could find to put them in crates and bring them to ACCT.
All of the cats except for one kitten, who was in particularly bad health upon arriving at ACCT, were saved.
Get Philly local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Philadelphia newsletters.
The cats were covered in urine and feces, and likely would not have survived for much longer in the walls without a way out, Sarah Barnett, the director of development and communications at ACCT said.
"We’re really grateful that [the contractor] brought them in and he did save their lives," Barnett said in an interview with NBC10.
It is likely that the cats have been trapped inside the walls for about five days, Barnett said. The outdoor cats probably climbed inside a hole in the wall to find shelter, and then became trapped when the contractor filled in the hole last week.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
The cats seem to be doing OK in foster care but will need help being socialized, Barnett said. ACCT is looking for the public to help by becoming foster parents for adult cats or a litter of kittens.
Before adoption, ACCT plans to help the cats recover and then spray and neuter them.
It's currently "kitten season," so ACCT is taking in dozens of cats and kittens each day. ACCT is the only open intake shelter in Philadelphia.
“We can stop that cycle of overpopulation. We can stop that cycle of breeding. We can provide the cats with the medical care they need,” Barnett said in the interview.