Unfortunately, cat hoarding is something that happens on a regular basis. For proof, look no further than a recent example reported in Des Moines, IA, which is horrific but not as surprising as it should be. In short, the relevant authorities learned about a place in Des Moines, IA where dozens and dozens of cats were living in deplorable conditions. As a result, a team of professionals were sent in to perform a rescue, which was much-needed because of the nightmarish circumstances. For example, the sheer amount of ammonia in the air because of cat urine meant that the rescuers had to wear protective suits plus respirators. Something that was particularly unpleasant because the home had close to 90 degrees temperatures thanks to a lack of ventilation as well as a lack of air conditioning. Likewise, the home was stuffed full of garbage as well as cat waste, with the result that it was infested with a wide range of pests. In fact, the pest problem was so bad that each step in the home would send up entire clouds of fleas, meaning that the rescuers had to be sprayed with insecticide from head to toe upon emerging because of the fleas that covered them.
The cats did not fare so well in said environment, particularly since most of them were kittens rather than full-grown adults. Apparently, their conditions were so bad that every single one of them were suffering from eye diseases, ear mites, and infections of their upper respiratory tracts. However, the kittens were particularly hard-hit, as shown by the stories of one kitten that had living maggots in an untreated leg wound and another kitten that perished of blood loss because of the sheer number of fleas that had been feasting upon it. The whole thing has put a serious strain on the resources of the relevant authorities, particularly since the rescuers are still working to get all of the cats out of the home. Something that has become much easier said than done because some of them are hiding in the crawlspace beneath it.
Why Do People Hoard Cats Anyways?
Cat hoarding is a subset of the bigger issue of animal hoarding. Cats are a particularly popular choice of animal for animal hoarders. However, it is important to note that animal hoarders have hoarded everything from dogs as well as relatively common pet animals such as rodents and reptiles to actual farm animals.
As for what is and isn’t counted as animal hoarding, this is one of the questions with a relatively simple and straightforward answer. First, since animal hoarders are animal hoarders, it should come as no surprise to learn that one of the criteria is that they must own more companion animals than what is common. However, that isn’t the critical criterion. Instead, that would be the animal hoarder’s inability to provide their companion animals with even the bare minimum when it comes to food, shelter, sanitation, and other necessities. In other words, if someone can provide all of their companion animals with adequate care, they aren’t animal hoarders so much as people with an unusual degree of enthusiasm for animals.
Having said that, the last criterion is the one that might be most tragic for a lot of people out there. In short, animal hoarders aren’t animal hoarders unless they are in actual denial about their inability to care for their companion animals as well as the consequences for them and their companion animals. This is important because animal hoarding indicates that something is wrong with the animal hoarder, though the exact issue can see considerable variation from case to case. For example, there are some people in the past who have suggested that animal hoarding is connected to addiction issues, which is based in part on the fact that a lot of animal hoarders either have substance abuse problems or are related to people with substance abuse problems. Likewise, there are other people in the present who now suspect that the animals might be serving as a substitute for an inability on the part of the animal hoarder to form relationships with other humans. On top of this, animal hoarding has been connected with everything from depression from paranoia, which is perhaps unsurprising when it isn’t something that can be pinned down with ease.
In any case, the disturbing part is that while animal hoarders are causing great harm to both themselves and their companion animals, they tend to have a genuine belief that they are caring for them. Something that makes such incidents that much more tragic.
How Society Combat the Problem of Cat Hoarding?
There is a fair amount that interested individuals can do to contribute to the fight against cat hoarding as well as other examples of animal hoarding.
For starters, spreading the awareness of who is and isn’t an animal hoarder is critical because that information can empower friends and family members to step in when they notice that something is wrong. Some common signs of someone being an animal hoarder is when they don’t know the exact number of their companion animals, when their home has suffered serious deterioration, when their companion animals are showing clear signs that they are neither happy nor healthy, and when they insist that their companion animals are well even when they aren’t.
Likewise, it can be very useful for interested individuals to learn the signs of animal hoarders posing as animal welfare organizations, which happens much more often than people realize. One example would be a lack of willingness to let people see the places where the organization keeps its animals, so much so that they will take in animals at remote locations rather than at the group’s own facilities. Another example would be an unwillingness to reveal information about the number of animals that are being kept by the group, which should be regarded with particular concern if the group doesn’t seem to make any effort to adopt animals out. On top of this, it isn’t uncommon for animal hoarders to see legitimate animal welfare groups as the enemy, meaning that such tendencies should be seen as a clear warning sign.
As for what people should do when they suspect animal hoarding, there are a number of things to keep in mind. One, animal welfare organizations can help out the animals, while social service organizations can help out the hoarders. Two, it can be a good idea to lend a helping hand to these organizations, particularly since animal hoarding cases often put a serious strain on their resources. Three, interested individuals might want to help out the animal hoarders themselves, whether by convincing them that their animals need help or by keeping a close eye on them afterwards to make sure that their future animals get the care that they need.