What do you think about when you hear the term ‘cat hoarder’? You might think that anyone who has over a certain number of cats can be called a ‘hoarder’, but in fact animal hoarding is a serious situation usually caused by mental illness. A cat hoarder will have an extremely large number of cats, much more than a typical household, and they’re unable to provide decent standards of care, which sadly causes their cats to suffer.
Signs of a Cat Hoarder
Cat hoarders will live in houses that are overrun with cats, and will be dirty, untidy and smell of cat faeces and urine because they’re failing to provide their cats with proper care and attention. Most cat hoarders are in denial about what they’re doing, and often believe that they’re animal lovers just looking out for the best interests of their pets. Of course, other people will see that this isn’t the case from the condition of their home and their cats, so a hoarder is likely to be secretive about how many cats they have, and what condition they’re in, they may also be quite reclusive and not let people into their home.
Why do People Become Cat Hoarders?
Cat hoarders themselves may believe that they’re doing it for the love of cats, but the root cause is actually mental illness, such as OCD, personality disorders or delusions. A cat hoarder thinks that they’re rescuing their cats, but is blind to the harm and suffering they’re actually causing.
The Consequences of Cat Hoarding
When a high number of cats live together and aren’t being properly cared for, the results can be horrific. Parasites and diseases are transmitted much more quickly, and without veterinary care and attention, cats that are owned by hoarders can get very ill indeed. If a cat hoarder isn’t taking their cats to the vet for basic treatments, they’re unlikely to be spayed/neutered either, so the population continues to grow.
It’s not only the cats’ physical health that’s compromised at the hands of cat hoarders, their mental health and social needs are often affected. The more cats a hoarder has, the less human contact and interaction they get, which means they often become semi-feral. Just like humans, cats are easily affected by stress, so the tension caused by living in large groups can be a real issue.
A recent study shows that tragically up to 70% of animals rescued from hoarders have to be euthanized. Cats rescued from hoarders are likely to be suffering from physical illness as well as having social problems, so it’s not always that easy for them to be re-homed.
Don’t panic if you have more than the average number of cats – it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a hoarder! As long as you can provide the highest standards of care for all of your cats (including veterinary treatment) and they’re happy and healthy, then you’ve simply got a larger than average fur family!
Have you known any cat hoarders? Or been involved with rescuing cats from these situations? Please share…
Image: Marianne Perdomo via Flickr