The general definition of an animal hoarder is someone who keeps an unusually large number of pets on their premises, and fails to care for them properly. Sadly, 58 cats have just recently been rescued from a cat hoarder’s house in Lincoln, California.
There weren’t a lot of details, but this much was said:
“Many of the cats have very serious viral eye infections and a number of them will need to have eyes removed,” Smith said in an email. “We are working very hard with our veterinarians to literally save their eyes.” – source
That is so incredibly sad to think that some of those cats will lose their eyes because of someone’s unhealthy “love” for them. Is there anything we can do to prevent this from happening again? Here are my ideas:
Be A Nosy Neighbor
If you suspect that your neighbor is an animal hoarder, go over and knock on their door with some excuse – maybe to borrow a cup of sugar or see if an important piece of mail got delivered to them by mistake. Then try to see if you see any signs of hoarding inside. If the neighbor quickly comes out on the porch, pulling the door nearly closed behind them, that can mean that they are ashamed of the mess inside and don’t want you to see. Further investigation may be necessary.
Use Your Senses
Use your ears to listen for the sounds of cats, your nose to notice any unpleasant smells emanating from your neighbor’s houses, and your eyes to watch for people bringing in too many bags of food or litter and for many cats roaming around the property.
Other things to watch for include excessive clutter outside the house, lots of flies at the windows, a neighbor who seems reclusive and doesn’t want to let anyone in their house.
Sometimes a cat hoarder is just a cat lover that has become overwhelmed by the amount of work there is in caring for a lot of cats. If that is the case, maybe you can offer to help out. But if the hoarder has stepped over that line, if there is mental illness at work, and the cats are in seriously unhealthy conditions, you will want to contact animal control, the health inspector, or even the police.
Hoarded cats usually suffer from neglect rather than violent abuse. The hoarder often sees themselves as saving the cats, and becomes immune to the smell and the mess. They are not deliberately cruel to animals.
Early intervention is key. Both for the health of the cats, and also because many cats raised in a hoarder’s home have characteristics of feral cats, and are therefore harder to rehome.
Please add your own ideas of what to look for, and any experiences you’ve had, so we can all do what we can to stop this from happening again.