One of the cats D.C.’s animal rescue officials took from a vacant Northwest Washington home. Authorities discovered two women were living illegally in the house with 63 cats and kittens. (Washington Human Society-Washington Animal Rescue League)

Sixty-three cats and kittens were discovered inside a vacant Northwest Washington home and in a nearby U-Haul van, animal rescue officials said Wednesday.

D.C. police were called to the house, nestled in the 800 block of Decatur Avenue NW, by a realtor on Tuesday evening, said Matt Williams, spokesman for the Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League. He said officers found that two women were living there illegally with a total of 63 cats – about 27 of which were kittens.

About 20 of the cats were inside the house, Williams said. Another 20 cats and about 30 kittens were tucked inside a U-Haul van that had been parked at the rear of the house.

The animals were living in “deplorable conditions” with feces all over the house, as well as inside and outside litter boxes, according to the organization’s press release. Many of them had upper respiratory infections, were underweight and overheated from being inside the van, the release said.

A total of 44 cats and kittens were recovered from the home, in the 800 block of Decatur Avenue NW. Two women, who were living illegally in the home, had 63 cats and kittens. (Washington Human Society-Washington Animal Rescue League)

Williams said animal rescue officials removed 44 cats and kittens from the vacant house from Tuesday evening to Wednesday. He added that the two women who were living there took about 20 of the animals with them and disappeared.

“This is an extreme case of hoarding and inhumane treatment of animals,” said Lisa LaFontaine, the organization’s president. “These cats and kittens, most of whom are in very vulnerable condition, will require medical care, proper nutrition and humane living conditions – all of which they have been denied until the moment they entered our care.”

Williams said the cats and kittens are being evaluated by medical staff and the case remains under investigation.