By Matt Petrillo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than a dozen kittens and cats will soon be looking for forever homes after they were discovered inside the walls of what was an abandoned house in Philadelphia. Animal rescue officials aren’t sure how long the cats were inside the wall, but if they hadn’t been rescued they may not have survived much longer.

The meows heard through the wall of a home on Sunday may have come from Joanna, or maybe Hydra, or any of the rescued cats.

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“When I saw them it was heartbreaking,” Sarah Barnett, an ACCT member, said.

Officials with Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control Team, or ACCT, say a new homeowner in West Philly told a contractor they had heard something in the walls.

When a contractor opened one up, he found nine adult cats and seven kittens — all of them trapped inside.

“He managed to get two crates and get out every cat he saw,” Barnett said.

It took him eight hours, but the contractor was eventually able to get all of the cats out of that wall and into the care of ACCT Philly.

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“They were very scared,” Barnett said. “They were covered in feces. One of the kittens, unfortunately, did not make it, but the other kittens did.”

Photos of the rescued kittens show some are smaller than an adult human’s hand. Those kittens are now in foster homes where they can get extra attention.

And the adult cats are at the ACCT, recovering until they’re healthy enough to be adopted.

Officials suspect the cats got into the wall through the hole before the home had been renovated.

“Cats, abandoned houses, it’s a perfect shelter,” Sarah Barnett with the ACCT said. “They can come in and out as they please. The cats were likely in that wall when the hole was sealed and didn’t know it was sealed and no one knew there were cats inside.”

Those rescued cats will be up for adoption soon, but they are among a total of 40 felines taken to ACCT on Sunday alone.

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ACCT Philly is now asking for donations and is looking for anyone interested in fostering or adopting. For more information on fostering email, foster@acctphilly.org, and to adopt click here.