Animal control officers seized 86 cats after neighbors complained about the smell coming from a two-bedroom Mesquite home.
Mesquite Animal Services found the cats, some seriously ill and others with medical issues, at the house in the 1500 block of Rusk Drive.
Officials said Keli Halteman was running an animal rescue service. She has a nonprofit certificate, but officials say it is illegal to run an animal shelter in a residential neighborhood or for a homeowner to have more than three cats and three dogs per home.
"The owner didn't even know how many cats they had," city spokesman Wayne Larson said. "They actually miscounted by 20 cats."
Next-door neighbor Thelma Slaton said the smell was overpowering.
"The smell was so bad, it would make you sick if you walked outside," she said. "I could smell it in my house."
Matthew Mitchell, who works in the neighborhood, said it was a problem in the area for years.
"I don't think anyone should just be able to snatch animals up and call themselves a rescue organization; usually it seems they're just animal hoarders," he said.
Mesquite Animal Services said another city has offered to help with the overflow of cats. Anyone who would like to adopt one of the cats can call animal control or visit a special website set up for the animals.