An SPCA necropsy of a dead animal found in the basement of a former pet store on Ellicott Street has determined the animal was a cat, Batavia PD announced this afternoon.
The cause of death could not be determined, but the SPCA found no signs of abuse and the absence of bite marks or claw marks inside the box indicate it was dead before being placed in the box.
Neptune's Gardens closed more than five months before the dead cat was found by an employee of I.D. Booth, owner of the building, while cleaning it out so the retail space could be rented to another tenant.
The employee posted a picture of the dead animal on social media and said she had found the skeleton of a dead dog. Regional media outlets, including The Batavian, and the dozens and dozens of people who shared the initial post, did not question the conclusion that the bones were dog remains.
The Batavian spoke with members of local law enforcement a few days later who indicated the remains were probably not of a dog.
During the 31 years that Nick and Kathy LaFarnara owned Neptune's Gardens (the storefront was Ellicott Street, but the actual address is on Liberty Street), people would drop off boxes of kittens and sometimes puppies and the LaFarnara's would try to find homes for the animals.
"We always took them to the vet and made sure they were healthy before we sold them for $5," LaFarnara said. "They object was to find them good homes."
The kittens and puppies needed to be at least 8 weeks old, depending on size, by state law. LaFarnara said she was told the dead kitten found in the box was 6 weeks old.
"The only time anybody ever dropped off kittens that were 6 weeks old, we took them to Lollypop Farms because we could not legally keep them," LaFarnara said.
She said she has no idea how the kitten wound up in the box in the basement.
As far as opening another store across the street, LaFarnara said she and her husband are still discussing it.