Earlier this week, 74 cats and kittens were rescued from a home in Des Moines in Iowa, from what is being referred to as a hoarding situation by animal rights activists. The Animal Rescue League in the state of Iowa posted photos of the cats and kittens on its Facebook page. The League’s spokeswoman stated that they took a whole 6 hours to complete the rescue of the felines. Some of the kittens were in critical condition, while others were newborns-with some of them having been found with umbilical cords still attached. Additionally, there were many female cats who appeared pregnant and others had some serious medical conditions. The rescuers also found 2 cats that had leg deformities and concluded that it was probably due to in-breeding. Officials of the league said that the rescue, however, came too late for some of the cats as four of them were unlucky and didn’t survive.
According to WHO-TV, the ARL rescued the cats from a basement in a home located in 2600 block of 51st Street. The cats had apparently been kept in that basement for a total of 5 days before they were rescued. Regardless of that, the rescuers said they found the felines living in gruesome conditions. The had removed cats everywhere in the home – even inside walls! Additionally, there was bloody diarrhea all over the floor from critically ill animals. CEO of the ARL, Tom Colvin said that the cats had been placed under observation and veterinarians were examining them to be able to provide individualized treatment plans for them. They said that some of the cats needed vaccinations, spay surgeries and microchips. The ARL further added that they are still rescuing more and more cats and will not stop until every last feline is rescued from the gruesome hoarding situation. The organization is asking for help in taking care of the rescued kittens from willing donors. Funds can be forwarded to their official website. Currently, investigations are ongoing regarding the matter and so far no charges have been filed.
What is Animal Hoarding?
According to Wikipedia, animal hoarding refers to the act of keeping a large number of domestic pets with no ability to accord the said pets proper care or housing. Activists, however, argue that some compulsive hoarding is more often not a sign of mental issues rather it is intentional cruelty towards animals. Most hoarders are very attached to their pets and can’t always see that they are not providing them with the best care. There is some bit of good news however, as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has set up a ‘Hoarding Prevention Team’ that partners with hoarders to help them acquire a healthy number of pets they can easily take care of.
How to Detect a Hoarder
The first characteristic of a hoarder is the number of pets he or she keeps relative to the care that they are able to provide for the pets. Most of them are usually overwhelmed with the needs of their pets. Please note, there is a distinction between an animal hoarder and an animal breeder which sometimes can be quite problematic. The latter keeps several animals for business. However, studies have proven that most animal hoarders are former breeders who have ceased to sell the animals and are mostly in denial. Therefore, they still claim to be breeders so as to avoid stall intervention by the necessary organizations or people. The second characteristic is their failure to actually acknowledge the hazardous conditions which include illnesses, deaths, overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. Last but not least failure to admit that their collection of pets is posing a health risk, not only to the cats but to humans as well.
What are Some of the Dangers of Hoarding?
- Malnourishment – Insufficient nutrition for the animals such as food and water is a common feature for all hoarders. A study conducted on hoarding situations found at least one dead animal in almost every case studied. Most times the principal cause of death is starvation. Malnourishment also increases the animal’s chances of getting sick and the disease usually spreads fast among the hoarded animals. Moreover, lack of food results in the animals resorting to aggressive behavior such as eating each other in order to stay alive.
- Lasting consequences – We can call this post-traumatic disorder for animals, as most of the animals that were rescued from hoarding situations are never really the same again. Due to lack of interactions with other animals for a long period of time, most of them develop aggressive behavioral problems and there is seemingly no further help that can be given to ease that.
For most cats with such problems, euthanasia remains to be the only sound option since adoption is out of question. Animal hoarding takes a toll on an animal’s psychological and physical well-being.
Effects of Hoarding Pets on Humans
Even if the hoarder didn’t intend on hoarding, most times they find themselves in poor sanitary conditions which always gets out of control, with the increasing number of animals present. Poor sanitary conditions pose a tremendous health risk for those living in and around residences where hoarding is taking place. In a typical hoarding residence, fecal waste is often found coating the household’s surfaces. Aside from the odors, that may be a nuisance to the neighbors, animal fecal matter poses a grave health risk as it encourages the spread of parasites. This kind of situation prevents any sanitary preparation of food which in turn puts the occupants at risk of contracting illnesses.
There is evidence suggesting that animal hoarding can strongly be linked to mental health issues, although there is no link to any specific mental disorder. Some of the psychological disorders that explain hoarding include attachment disorder, delusional disorder, zoophilia, obsessive-compulsive disorder commonly known as OCD and dementia. There is however no direct evidence whatsoever linking the illnesses to the ill practice.