Animal abuse is one of the most sickening and devastating acts imaginable. Cats, dogs, and other animals are abused each day all around the world. While there are organizations fighting against the most conspicuous forms of abuse, such as beatings or meat farms, animal abuse can sometimes be more difficult to identify. One such form of abuse is neglect from elderly owners. Even kindhearted individuals can cause great harm to their pets if their memory and judgment begins to fade. As well, these older individuals will sometimes shut themselves away, preventing younger relatives to even witness the condition of the animals inside.
It is difficult to have a measured response to such instances. While the knee-jerk reaction is to blame the owner, this is often unfair. Elderly individuals who neglect their pets rarely do so intentionally; they are merely suffering from the effects of aging. It is important, therefore, for relatives to find a way to check up on the pets of older family members.
One case that shockingly exemplifies this type of neglect is that of the “Octopus Cat.” Now named Hidey, this is a cat that was neglected by her elderly owner for years. After the owner passed away, she was brought in to the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center in Pennsylvania because of her dire condition.
When she was brought in, Hidey had so much dense and matted down fur that it resembled an octopus’ tentacles. The fur was so long and unkempt that it had nearly formed dreadlocks. Of course, there were feces stuck in the fur. The cat was quickly relieved of this terrible situation, as the extra fur was shaved off. After weighing the fur, it was found that Hidey had been carrying around over 2 pounds of extra fur.
Hidey’s case went viral after the shelter posted pictures of her before and after being treated. While the story evoked a strong emotional reaction, most people were level-headed about placing blame on the owner. Comments on Facebook mainly centered on how surprising it is that a cat could grow such long fur. Some even took the time to state that the issue with neglect from elderly owners is not that these individuals are malicious; it is that today’s society leaves the elderly alone far too much. With a better support network from family and friends, the state of the elderly and their pets would be better known.
While her story is shocking, Hidey managed to find a happy ending. Many cats, however, are not so lucky. It is important that organizations like the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center are supported through donations and volunteerism so that cats like Hidey can receive the help they need. Perhaps even more importantly, however, this story reveals how society as a whole needs more cohesiveness. Checking in on older family members is not only important for their health, but for the health of their pets as well. With more compassion and attention, no animal will needlessly suffer as Hidey did.