Sacramento police say a 2-year-old boy survived on cat food for up to six days after his mother died.

A social worker heard the toddler crying while making a visit to check on the family Thursday morning. The worker called police after no one answered the door of the brick duplex where the mother and child lived.

Inside, authorities found the body of 36-year-old Lisa Gonzales. It was not immediately known how she died, but a Child Protective Services spokeswoman says the woman suffered from a chronic illness.

Sacramento police officials did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

Neighbors said the woman worked as a waitress and described her as frail and quiet.

The boy, identified only as Noah, is in protective custody while social workers determine whether he can be placed with a family member.