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Hoarders (long)

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I actually sort of understand hoarding, although I obviously do not condone it.

Theoretical story:

A stray kitten comes up to Person's house. It is weak, and hosts a bustling parasite-opolis. Person feels sorry for it, takes it in, gets it cleaned up, and feeds it. Person buys some cat supplies, and litter train it. Person gets it vet care, and all is well.

A day later, Person finds that it was not alone. Six others are soon taken in. They are too cleaned up, fed, and vetted. funds after this are a bit tight, but Person thinks "it is safer than them being outside, cold and hungry. besides, i'm sure that i can find homes for them". Person considers a shelter, but is told by a friend that a shelter would immediately put them to sleep. Person quickly drops that idea and moves on in hope that good homes will be found. The cats get the cheapest of everything available: litter, food, some cheap cat toys. They are not in the best shape, but they could be worse. There are a few scuffles here and there among the cats, but otherwise they're fine. Person plays with them, and tells everyone about them in hopes of finding homes.

Two are adopted. News gets out about Person's love of cats. One or two irresponsible owners, sick of their cats' frequent litters think "Person loves cats.If I drop it off there I will feel less guilty about being a complete idiot". Over the next few weeks, Person takes in four abandoned pregnant cats. Although she does not know it, it is kitten season.

As Person does not know much past basic cat care besides what is told by friends, and a few questions at the vet's office on the first few visits (money is tight now, and Person can no longer afford it), these too get the cheapest food available. The cats have their litters. Some kittens are sickly and die. Person grieves their loss, but is secretly a little relieved, because there are less cats for her to try finding homes for.

A few months pass. Person now spends so much time mediating the turmoil of first the four cats being brought into the household, then even more as territorial issues spring up after the kittens are born, that there is no more playtime, and some of the cats have become so wild, that petting them becomes a danger. There are so many that only the essentials can be afforded: food and litter. The food brought in for Person's own consumption is ravenously sought out and devoured by the cats that don't manage to get some chow at dinnertime. Person begins to only eat foods that cats won't eat, but is mildly surprised sometimes when one of them eat these foods.

The house has begun to stink a lot. The litterboxes have expanded to fill up a whole quarter of one room, and it is constantly overflowing. Person gives up on cleaning them after a while. Most of the cats don't even bother to use it anymore. Person has gotten used to the smell, which has now become so bad that Person does not notice that a few of the kittens and two of the cats have died. There is so much waste and debri of objects that once were functional littering the floor that shoes are a must.

Meanwhile, the females have gone into heat again. They yowl nonstop, and are eagerly pounced upon by the males, who are of age now. More kittens ensue. Both Person's and the cats' quality of life deteriorate. One or two diseases run rampant and wipe out half the population. They are quickly replaced by more kittens. Eventually, a passersby notices the insane number of cats in the window. Then the smell hits them. Thinking that some cats are trapped in an abandoned house, they call animal control. The rest is history, as are most of the cats, as quite a few are horribly sickly, and most (if not all) have become feral from lack of human contact.








It is easy for me to see how good intentions can get out of hand, and how quickly a pet population can explode out of control (not just for cats, but dogs, rabbits, etc). Just take a look at the Pregnant Cats& Kitten Care forum and count how many kittens have been born on this board alone (to a very small fraction of the pet-owner pie, including myself) in the last few months. You could start with a rescued litter of 4 and end up with over ten times that within 5 years.

people who rescue pregnant strays can get in over their heads in the thick of kitten season before they realize it, and it is possible to lose track of who got spayed and who didnt when you've got more cats than you can count.

people who simply take in stray cats can get in over their heads too, as irresponsible owners keep dumping cats off because they didnt take time to learn about the responsibilities involved, or didnt think that getting Fluffy spayed ("whee! kittens are cute! Ok..when's she gonna stop having these things. Don't cats have menopause?") of Feisty neutered ("What, it's not like he's going to have kittens. What's this wet spot on the wall? What's that smell?!") was a good investment.

Teaching the pros and cons of pet ownership, as well as the importance of spay/neuter would not totally solve the problem, but it would go a ways to prevent it. More cheap/free mobile spay/neuter services would help as well, as not everyone has the $200 or so dollars some vets like to charge you for the privilege of sitting in a waiting room for 3 hours, let alone the amount they'd charge to have 3-5 cats spayed. Being poor is bad enough without losing the privilege of having a healthy, fixed pet.
post #2 of 17
If I was that person, I would either lock the boys away from the girls, or put the unneutered males outside.

With hoarders, it goes way beyond saving a kitten here and there. They tend to keep the cats, and never give them away. It has a component of the mental illness OCD. They obsessively collect cats. It isn't like you or me. It is way beyond that. And it is beyond their control. Just like an alcoholic can't stop drinking, they can't stop collecting cats. With the recent stories, they even had a lot of dead cats!

Someone here on the boards, and I don't recall who, posted about getting overwhelmed by cats and getting into trouble over it. It can happen, but it doesn't make you a hoarder. I'm sure her litterboxes still got emptied, and the cats were socialized. And she was able to correct the problem.

I know someone with about 80 cats. But all are well cared for, clean, vetted, and tame. And she adopts out what she can. Maybe she has the potential to become a hoarder, I don't know. I'm sure she doesn't want the neighbors to know. But I have been in her house, and seen them. She isn't a hoarder, she just has a pile of cats! And she does more for cat rescue than anyone I have ever met. And she tells people no, if they try to turn a cat over to her and she doesn't have a foster home for it.

I think the line between most people and the true hoarders is bigger than you think. But I do wonder if any hoarders post here? Do they know they need help and are afraid to say something? I just wonder sometimes.
post #3 of 17
:handclap: :handclap: :handclap: :handclap: :handclap: :handclap: :handclap:
I think that your theotical story is VERY plausible!! At one point in my life, I'd nearly had the same situation, as did several of my friends. Furthermore, IMO, the main culprits are those sleezeballs that foist their unwanted pets off on these people -just last month alone, I've talked to a boy whose grandma refuses to get her cats neutered because the coyotes will eat most of the cats anyway; a friend who visited someone in Reno who allowed her cat to have kittens because she wanted her 10yo son to have his cat have kittens - she has money for nights-out in the casinos "with the girls" and money for brunch (and babysittting) the following day, yet claims that it costs too much to have the cat spayed now; another friend who is looking for kittens for her 2yo & 4yo rambunctious grandsons to play with (if they find them, I have little hope that the kittens survive). Far too often, and in the more-educated circle, I've encountered people who think that kittens are just toys for their spoiled brats, that a cat isn't worth any amount of money to get neutered and it's okay to dump the unwanted pets on those who will help any animal that comes along...And yes, I think that the overwhelmed person becomes susceptible to extreme mental illness, they prob. have the tendency anyways, but it is exacerbated and all because they care.Thank you for taking the time to write this very good story - it should get us all lthinking about who else (not just the hoarder) contributes to the problem.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckiboo
If I was that person, I would either lock the boys away from the girls, or put the unneutered males outside.

With hoarders, it goes way beyond saving a kitten here and there. They tend to keep the cats, and never give them away. It has a component of the mental illness OCD. They obsessively collect cats. It isn't like you or me. It is way beyond that. And it is beyond their control. Just like an alcoholic can't stop drinking, they can't stop collecting cats. With the recent stories, they even had a lot of dead cats!
It could easily start with saving a kitten here and there, though. I doubt that 100% of hoarders woke up one day and said "kittens are cute, and I have $30 to my name. I'm going to take in every cat I see." While most do have some form of mental illness which makes it hard for them to gague the plausibility (or lack thereof) of offering great care to upward of 60 or so cats on a tight budget (or most budgets for that matter), I do not believe that all of them do.

Some may just have lost track of the steadily growing numbers until they were in way over their heads. In some cases, the hoarder realizes this and asks for help, in others, the person knows that they have too many, but are afraid of the public backlash that would be caused if the conditions that they and the animals were in got out, and in the worst cases, the smell of death and waste emanating from the house reveals everything. To say that they are all inhuman, mentally ill monsters who would grab any cat they saw and bring it in is a huge sweeping generalization, IMHO.

Quote:
Someone here on the boards, and I don't recall who, posted about getting overwhelmed by cats and getting into trouble over it. It can happen, but it doesn't make you a hoarder. I'm sure her litterboxes still got emptied, and the cats were socialized. And she was able to correct the problem.


I know someone with about 80 cats. But all are well cared for, clean, vetted, and tame. And she adopts out what she can. Maybe she has the potential to become a hoarder, I don't know. I'm sure she doesn't want the neighbors to know. But I have been in her house, and seen them. She isn't a hoarder, she just has a pile of cats! And she does more for cat rescue than anyone I have ever met. And she tells people no, if they try to turn a cat over to her and she doesn't have a foster home for it.
I did not state that getting overwhelmed and hoarding were the same. You can get overwhelmed easily. The great seperator is what you do when it happens. Most people would realize that it is now becoming difficult to accomplish the goal of helping the animals, stop taking them in, and work on socializing/caring for/lessening the population they already have. A hoarder would not turn another away. In the moment, perhaps they possibly think of the new cat, and fear it's fate outside , alone and hungry, without stopping to think that it's fate inside is probably a bit worse. And another is added. The only true difference between us and hoarders that I can see (barring mental illnesses), is a difficulty gaguing whether or not they have too much on their plate already.

I would not call her a hoarder.

My definition of a hoarder is someone with far more cats than they could financially(vet) or physically (socialization,etc) support who keeps adding more. (it could be 6 or 200. If you cannot take care them, and keep bringing more in, you're keeping the animals out of selfishness, rather than for their own welfare.

Do not be offended if you have a few more than you can support, know it, are not taking in any more, and are working on improving your (and their) situation. My definition does not pertain to you. I am just stating that if you can't care for what you have, don't add more. That is one of the main mistakes hoarders make. A true hoarder, of course, just HAS to keep adding animals, either not realizing that they cannot rescue every one, and that they are putting the animals at risk, or simply just can't help it.

She obviously has no problem with either of these.) In fact, I think that she is a wonderful person to selflessly dedicate that much time to others. I wish there were more in the world like her.

Quote:
I think the line between most people and the true hoarders is bigger than you think. But I do wonder if any hoarders post here? Do they know they need help and are afraid to say something? I just wonder sometimes.
It could be. I am only posting my opinion on the matter, after all. In no way am I trying to say that I KNOW any of this with absolute certainty. I believer that most of them DO actually care about the animals, but lose touch with reality. Some, i think, become afraid that the animals will be put to sleep at a shelter (i personally had never heard of no-kill shelters before coming here), and set standards for adopters far too high to ever let someone else take an animal. There could be hoarders here. Who knows for sure?
post #5 of 17
You make a good point about hoarders, and compassionate ones. Certainly, when the living conditions are so deplorable, and the kitties suffers so horribly, it takes mental illness to not see what's going on. I am glad that you are open-minded because the reality for those cats of hoarders, and those not rescued is that PTS is the best option,because there's less suffering than the inevitable death they will soon experience. Have you read some of the comments in the Yahoo! news about these situations? So many people blame the cats!!! And it really spawns a cat-hate-fest! Even on Animal Cops, I've seen some of the H.S. agents be so disgusted with the animals - instead of thinking, so many people in this country, why don't more people end this problem? whether helping a hoarder to get mental help, spaying/vet assistance for the cat; help them to clean their house; etc. It's hard, I know, but I befriended a hoarder, with kids, dogs, cats, and I helped out with cleaning, money, transportation, and most of all, friendship!! Now, the youngest kids are grown, both working, and their mom has been on anti-depresssants for over 15 years, and all are responsible pet owners....Now, when I helped, I worked 2 jobs, had a long daily commute, but the situation for those kids & the kitties was desperate, and if the county had become involved, it would have been the worst (our animal shelter used to have a limit to 1 shot for PTS, and once, when I was there to bring in a stray puppy, there was a large tomcat meowing & struggling for breath, and one of the attendants was upset that the her boss insisted on the 1-shot rule, even though the cat had been hovering between life & death since the previous day. I tried to adopt him on the spot, so I could rush him to my vet, to take care of this situation once & for all, but the attendants said, sadly, that they couldn't do that) for the cats, the dogs, and esp. the kids, because their mom was better than being in the system, disgusting as the house was. I just wish people would judge these situations with compassion in their hearts; but for the grace of God, it could happen to them or someone they love....
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsknowme
You make a good point about hoarders, and compassionate ones. Certainly, when the living conditions are so deplorable, and the kitties suffers so horribly, it takes mental illness to not see what's going on. I am glad that you are open-minded because the reality for those cats of hoarders, and those not rescued is that PTS is the best option,because there's less suffering than the inevitable death they will soon experience. Have you read some of the comments in the Yahoo! news about these situations? So many people blame the cats!!! And it really spawns a cat-hate-fest! Even on Animal Cops, I've seen some of the H.S. agents be so disgusted with the animals - instead of thinking, so many people in this country, why don't more people end this problem? whether helping a hoarder to get mental help, spaying/vet assistance for the cat; help them to clean their house; etc. It's hard, I know, but I befriended a hoarder, with kids, dogs, cats, and I helped out with cleaning, money, transportation, and most of all, friendship!! Now, the youngest kids are grown, both working, and their mom has been on anti-depresssants for over 15 years, and all are responsible pet owners....Now, when I helped, I worked 2 jobs, had a long daily commute, but the situation for those kids & the kitties was desperate, and if the county had become involved, it would have been the worst (our animal shelter used to have a limit to 1 shot for PTS, and once, when I was there to bring in a stray puppy, there was a large tomcat meowing & struggling for breath, and one of the attendants was upset that the her boss insisted on the 1-shot rule, even though the cat had been hovering between life & death since the previous day. I tried to adopt him on the spot, so I could rush him to my vet, to take care of this situation once & for all, but the attendants said, sadly, that they couldn't do that) for the cats, the dogs, and esp. the kids, because their mom was better than being in the system, disgusting as the house was. I just wish people would judge these situations with compassion in their hearts; but for the grace of God, it could happen to them or someone they love....


It makes nosense to me that people would blame the animals. That's like blaming the children for a parent's alcoholism-fueled abuse! Any animals left unfixed and unattended will multiply. Some more than others, but still, it's complete idiocy to blame the animal because you're too clouded by a personal hatred of them to take the whole situation into perspective. It is far easier to throw some stones and feel superior than it is to actually get in there and do something productive.

That 1-shot thing is pretty terrible. If , in the event that an animal had to be put to sleep, it couldn't even be "humanely euthanized" in a humane manner, (not hovering between life and death in obvious agony for two days) something was very wrong and their system needed a huge overhaul. What have they changed since then?


I've realized through observation that most things don't get notice from a great deal of people until it happens to them, someone close to them, or a celebrity they idolize.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
post #8 of 17
Hear!hear! For instance, this thread is not getting the attention it deserves, unfortunately; had it been about Michael Jackson, for instance, it would be pages long...(sigh) ....

As for conditions at our animal shelter, they have been improved I'd say at least 110%, esp. the cat area (dog lovers seem to do less for their esteemed dogs, than cat lovers & cat/dog lovers do for the cats, and yes, even the dogs), thanks to the local group I.C.A.R.E. (Inyo County Animal Resources and Education), in fact, the PTS rate at the shelter has dropped 91% since the group started in 1997!! It's the best rate of improvement in the State of California (you can read the post I put out in the S.O.S. section, titled "Good news for all Animal Lovers". I thought it was such great, encouraging news for anyone in the rescue business or who cares about animals, but the post got very little interest... )

I'm really enjoying the website from Tufts University on hoarders. I haven't helped out anyone for quite awhile (as a Methodist, I feel that God would like me to do more,but as a human, I've grown complacent); it is good to read about it. When I helped out my friend, my family & my ex-boyfriend would tell me, "You're crazier than she is"; I heard this again, 2 years ago, when I took one of my husband's meth clients under my wing, and the client has worked at the supermarket for over a year, regained partial custody of her daughter, and is just a blessing from God, in general, tho she won't realize it - she thinks I'm the one doing her the favor and doesn't realize that the greater gifts are given to, not taken from, me!

I'll try during the week to keep this post alive...Maybe we should start a thread, "What have YOU done to help cats lately?!", but that might be considered inflammatory, although I would consider it encouraging (look at DawnofSierra's rescue of that too-darling Serenity, for instance)..what do you think? Susan
post #9 of 17
I do have to think that people who have OCD or something else... are more likely to be hoarders. I mean, I don't really know that many people that would just continue to take in cats. Most of us on the boards have 1 or 2 cats, some have 5 and that's their limit. The ones who have more manage to keep their gang in excellent condition and that, I imagine, is why they keep doing it.

For instant, when I took in the little kitten I saw on the step... I was thinking, and still am thinking, of if I really want or can afford 3 cats. It's a tough decision, especially because money is tight. But I know that if we can keep this little guy, he'll be the last cat we have for quite a while... and I think that thinking is what keeps me from being/makes me different than a hoarder.

If that makes sense...
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsknowme
Hear!hear! For instance, this thread is not getting the attention it deserves, unfortunately; had it been about Michael Jackson, for instance, it would be pages long...(sigh) ....

As for conditions at our animal shelter, they have been improved I'd say at least 110%, esp. the cat area (dog lovers seem to do less for their esteemed dogs, than cat lovers & cat/dog lovers do for the cats, and yes, even the dogs), thanks to the local group I.C.A.R.E. (Inyo County Animal Resources and Education), in fact, the PTS rate at the shelter has dropped 91% since the group started in 1997!! It's the best rate of improvement in the State of California (you can read the post I put out in the S.O.S. section, titled "Good news for all Animal Lovers". I thought it was such great, encouraging news for anyone in the rescue business or who cares about animals, but the post got very little interest... )

I'm really enjoying the website from Tufts University on hoarders. I haven't helped out anyone for quite awhile (as a Methodist, I feel that God would like me to do more,but as a human, I've grown complacent); it is good to read about it. When I helped out my friend, my family & my ex-boyfriend would tell me, "You're crazier than she is"; I heard this again, 2 years ago, when I took one of my husband's meth clients under my wing, and the client has worked at the supermarket for over a year, regained partial custody of her daughter, and is just a blessing from God, in general, tho she won't realize it - she thinks I'm the one doing her the favor and doesn't realize that the greater gifts are given to, not taken from, me!

I'll try during the week to keep this post alive...Maybe we should start a thread, "What have YOU done to help cats lately?!", but that might be considered inflammatory, although I would consider it encouraging (look at DawnofSierra's rescue of that too-darling Serenity, for instance)..what do you think? Susan

If I were to start a thread like that, I'd start one asking what they've done for animals in gerneral. Although this is a cat site, cats are not the only animals facing these problems. I believe it would be very interesting to see some of the responses in such a thread. I'd mostly attributed the shortage of responses to this thread to the post being far longer than most would care to read, as well as everyone not being able to stomach that kind of story.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkdaisy226
I do have to think that people who have OCD or something else... are more likely to be hoarders. I mean, I don't really know that many people that would just continue to take in cats. Most of us on the boards have 1 or 2 cats, some have 5 and that's their limit. The ones who have more manage to keep their gang in excellent condition and that, I imagine, is why they keep doing it.

For instant, when I took in the little kitten I saw on the step... I was thinking, and still am thinking, of if I really want or can afford 3 cats. It's a tough decision, especially because money is tight. But I know that if we can keep this little guy, he'll be the last cat we have for quite a while... and I think that thinking is what keeps me from being/makes me different than a hoarder.

If that makes sense...

It makes sense. I am one of those with 5 (and that is me&bf's limit). Earlier this year, I found a tiny blue and white kitten (who was form the looks of it, only a tad bigger/older than my kittens) screaming her head off in a ditch by the side of the road. She was obviously a stray, and so very friendly that she immediately began purring when I picked her up. She was very bony, and had the worst case of diarrhea i've seen in a cat. (I believe she was about 9 weeks old at the time, so it certainly was not about weaning, as she had a healthy appetite when it came to food). I gave her some pumpkin, and that cleared it up.

I could not bring her inside, as my own kittens had not had their shots yet (their appt wasnt for a few weeks. i cannot drive, so i rely on others to get around, and decided to take them in when their mom was going to be spayed), but I could not leave such a tiny creature to roam freely and be chased by dogs, and there are intact toms who makes rounds in the neighborhood, so to keep her safe at night, i kept her in a pet taxi on the porch with food and a litterbox. I would take her out in the day and play with her, bath her sometimes, as she would sometimes get litter clumped in her tail, and feed and water her.

I did this between caring for my own cats and doing housework, and when no one was around to keep an eye on her, back into the taxi she went. It broke my heart, but it was for her safety. I searched for a good home for her, but was having no luck at all.

Quite a few of the people around here have herds of cats, and not many seem to have heard of spay/neuter, and some just cant afford it, even though it seems to be cheaper here than in most of the us. The main form of birth control here is to dump the girls in a cat-lovers yard when the sex becomes obvious.

I wanted better for her than to be a kitten conveyor belt in some weeds somewhere. I frequently found myself weighing the pros and cons of keeping her. I knew that she could not go on like that much longer. In fact, I didnt want her to have to go on like that. Being confined to a pet taxi was no life for a kitten, but neither was an outdoor life. But I did not want to risk her being harmed either.

One night I heard growling, and walked out to see one of the intact neighborhood toms7 standing right outside of the taxi, hissing. I watered him, and off he went. I freaked out and became even more determined to find her a home.

A few days later, out of pure luck, a friend saw an animal control truck and had it go to my house. I gladly sent her off, knowing that they could offer her far more attention (and better housing) than I could with my houseful of cats. People who lived here forever didnt even know that there WAS animal control (they're almost impossible to find, and not even listed in the phone book)!

Realistically, I knew that I could not keep her. We'd have no problem providing for her financially, but it is labor-intensive enough having 5 cats, and from some of the stories i've read here, i have it great as well as behaviors go. My adults, both rescued strays, are happy, chubby creatures who are somewhat cautious of strangers, and the kittens are extremely social, fly about the house, get along, and work parties when we have guests over.

Another cat would've just complicated everything too much. Not to mention that being a bit older than my own kittens, she would've most likely begun heat earlier than them and sent the kittens into "f**k or fight" mode (which i'm trying to avoid by getting them all fixed the day they turn 5 months). While I applaud the people who can make a 10-100 cat household work, I do not envy them.
post #12 of 17
It would be nice if there was more help out there for the hoarders. I can see how you can add a few more kits than would be wise. What's just one more, right? But again, the unlimited breeding has no excuse. Keep the boys and girls separate!

I do applaud the people like my friend who truly enrich and save the lives of cats and dogs by working diligently to save them. She is an inspiration. And her husband is a saint!

Hoarding is a painful topic, and there are several threads going about it. That might be why this one is a little overlooked.

As for a thread on what have you done lately to help an animal, I'm sure there are some heavy weight givers out there, who have done a lot. Like what CatsKnowMe did for the hoarder. That changed her life, the lives of her kids, and saved so many cats. Bless you for taking time to intervene!
post #13 of 17
I dont really see how a normal person could let it spiral so far out of control. Hoarding is cruel and most people take steps to prevent things getting out of hand.

Yes, hoarders need more help - and people around them need to be more aware and willing to step in and offer assistance.
post #14 of 17
I think that hoarders are most likely very kind hearted and mean well, but they do more harm than good to their kitties. Mental illness is probably what most people think of when they see a story or something on tv about Hoarders, and alot of people just don't know what to make of mental illness. It's a touchy subject.
post #15 of 17
Here's an interesting article about hoarding from today's Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...referrer=email
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
Here's an interesting article about hoarding from today's Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...referrer=email
I just read that one - What I dont understand is why that lady was not banned from owning cats ever again in 2001!!!
post #17 of 17
Years ago, a wealthy lady in the neighborhood sent for me to do some electrical work for her, and when I called at her palatial home, she told me to come around back, that the wiring needed to be done in her "cat house", and a light suddenly went on over my head, and I thought, "so that's how the old dear got so rich ! !", but when I went around back, there was a rather nice tenant house, perhaps 1,500 square feet, and it had about 25 cats in it, and the house was furnished as if humans lived there, but there was only the "cat nanny" who, I suppose, kept the litter boxes cleaned and the food and water bowl clean and full.

Leonard
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