Thursday, November 3, 2011

Animals and Hoarding - Part 1

An entire chapter of Stuff is devoted to an animal hoarder. The woman profiled by Frost and Steketee struck me as a somewhat unusual hoarder. She had been going to a therapist for a number of years. The therapist hoarded cats (she ended up with over 200 in cages) and gave the woman free therapy in exchange for cat care. The woman herself ended up hoarding cats and was eventually raided by the ASPCA.

Animal hoarding has received much publicity in recent years. In addition to New York hoarding/torture cases, a non-kill shelter was recently shut down because the caretakers could not care for the large number of animals. There is a TV show on Animal Planet: 

that profiles pet hoarders. The ASPCA has even begun an intervention program to identify hoarders, get them to relinquish their animals, and go for treatment for themselves:

While I have have owned multiple cats over the past 20 years, as have members of my family, I'm not a hoarder. I've rescued kittens and cats and adopted them out to good homes. My own cats receive individual attention, medical care, and a clean living environment.

My only personal experience with someone who I would view today as an individual with hoarding tendencies occurred over 10 years ago. I went to visit a friend in another state.She and her boyfriend were living with eight cats. One of the cats was an adult cat who had been trapped from a feral colony. He had an extremely difficult time adjusting to life as an indoor cat away from his colony, and spent all day crouching in the bathroom behind toilet. He did not interact with the two "owners" or with the other seven cats in the apartment. It was clear to me that the cat would have been happier neutered, ear-tipped, and returned either to his original colony or to a new colony. His "owners" seemed to think that all he needed was food, water, and an indoor shelter in order to have quality of life. They viewed the animal as an abstract rather than as a cat who deserved some quality of life. They had rescued him from the streets - he didn't need anything else.

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