A Moreno Valley woman accused of caging dozens of cats in her home, causing some of the felines to die, was charged Wednesday with 17 counts of felony animal cruelty.

Kristen Gotangco, 44, was arrested Monday following a joint Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Moreno Valley Department of Animal Services investigation at her house in the 22000 block of La Jolla Circle, near TownGate Memorial Park.

Gotangco is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning and is slated to make her initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. William Stens, deputies were called to the defendant’s property about 7:30 a.m. Monday to conduct a welfare check after receiving reports of an extremely foul odor emanating from the location.

Stens said that when deputies entered the house, they “discovered numerous cats being hoarded within the residence.”

Animal services personnel were summoned and removed 100 cats and two dogs. According to the agency, many of the cats had been locked in cages, and 18 were either dead or in such dire condition that they had to be humanely euthanized.

“Our first priority is to see that these animals get the proper medical care they deserve,” agency Director Steve Fries said Monday. “Ultimately, we want to see that each of these cats and dogs ends up adopted into loving homes.”

Because of the number of cats in need of medical attention, veterinary technicians at the city shelter were overwhelmed, and some of the felines were transferred to a standby treatment facility, Fries said.

Some of the cats may be eligible for adoption in two weeks, he said.

Gotangco has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.

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