It took Maricopa County sheriff's deputies two days to pull 65-year-old Maria Cimino from her trash-stuffed Mesa, Arizona home -- where she was discovered Sunday after neighbors reported not seeing her for some time, according to local reports.
The interior was so dense and sickening that sheriff's deputies had to wear goggles, breathing masks and protective clothing while clearing the home, and were forced to switch shifts every 15 minutes.
Workers faced oppressive, triple-digit temperatures, a local news station reported.
Cimino died of natural causes, authorities said Tuesday. It wasn't clear how long she had been dead.
At least 31 cats lived in the filthy home, and the interior reeked of the animals' feces, authorities and neighbors said. Eleven kittens were among the cats rescued. The animals were taken by workers from the local Humane Society.
Cimino's neighbors said they knew she was a hoarder, and regretted not calling the police earlier.