I read a report recently stating that 30 to 37 percent of all households in the US have cats. Truly, I thought the percentage was higher. It certainly is in my circle of friends and family. In fact about 87 percent of people I associate with either have cats or have cared for one or more beloved cats in the past and probably will again.
While most of us take in a pet or two, some cat people take it upon themselves to care for many cats at a time. The typical cat person knows her limitations—taking on only as many cats as they can properly care for. Sure, many of these dear souls stretch their resources on many occasions to accommodate one or two more needy felines. But what about cat hoarders—those who open their hearts so much they find themselves unable to care for all of the cats they’ve accumulated? Even these people, for the most part, start out with pure and good intentions for the cats they are feeding. If there are a lot of strays in the neighborhood and if they continually “rescue” litters of backyard kittens, they can sometimes get carried away with the need and lose touch with the reality of the situation. They keep taking in cats without any plan for placing them, for example, and putting off spaying and neutering and their responsibility grows to unreasonable proportions. In the meantime, many of these people run low on funds and energy and soon hygiene and health become issues in the home. These are the hoarders you see on your newsfeed, on TV news stations, etc. The ASPCA reports that there are 900 to 2,000 cases of animal hoarding reported every year. And there’s something you can do about it.
You know when someone in your neighborhood has an excess of cats running all over their property or peering out through the windows of the home. You may see a bedraggled man or woman coming and going, usually returning home with truckloads of litter and kibbles. Is this an in-control cat person who may go a little overboard collecting cats and who takes excellent care of them—do the cats you see around look healthy and bright-eyed? Or are many of the cats ailing. Do you smell a stench coming from inside the home? Visit the home. You like cats—ask if you can see them. Do an evaluation. Is the place clean and orderly and the cats energetic? Or is it chaotic, filthy, unfit for a cat to live in? Are the cats lethargic, do they seem to be ailing?
If an offer of help to create some order in the house, to find safe places for the cats, and to get veterinary help for the cats who need it isn’t welcomed, it is time to report this hoarder to your local animal control or humane group. But, according to experts, even if the animals are taken away, this person may just bring in more pets. So it is recommended that a local health and human services agency also be notified, along with friends and family of the individual for support.
Do you know a cat hoarder who’s out of control? Have you ever found yourself heading in that direction—bringing home an array of animals, for example, and eventually realizing you’d taken on more than you could handle?