“Foreclosure cats” are cats that have been abandoned at a property that a mortgagor has repossessed. By a mortgagor I mean a bank that lends money – a mortgage – to an individual to allow the person to buy a property. Foreclosure can only happen if the borrower, the mortgagee has failed to pay the monthly installments as directed under the contract. While in the USA it is called “foreclosure”, in the UK it is called “repossession” (the bank takes possession of the property).
OK that’s the boring bit out of the way. In the current economic climate with people losing their jobs there are many more repossessions. This is to be expected.
What I find unexpected is that people simply leave their home, give the keys back to the bank and leave their cat or dog inside the home. I have no idea what they are thinking when they do that. Do they expect the cat to die – slowly? Are they thinking at all? Perhaps they just don’t care because they didn’t really care in the first place. Or perhaps they lost the ability to care because of the distressing circumstances under which they find themselves.
Sometimes, people who abandon their cats on foreclosure don’t even leave out food or water for their cat. It is just the height of irresponsibility and cruelty. I am sure no one has been prosecuted in America under the animal welfare acts. This tells you how ineffective these acts can be. They are often unenforced.
There may be a decent reason for abandoning a cat or dog – can there ever be a decent reason for such an act of animal cruelty? However, the criminal law does not excuse people who are cruel to their cats if their property is foreclosed. Animal cruelty is animal cruelty.
There may be some exceptional cases where leaving a cat behind in a property to die might have a defense of some sort. What about mental illness? But if a person is intent on giving up their cat it does not take that much effort to find a new home or at least go to the nearest animal rescue shelter where there is a good chance the cat will be euthanised but where there is at least a chance that the cat will find a new home. That chance is probably better than the high risk of a slow death inside an abandoned home with no heating or air conditioning, no food and no water. However, I think that people can do better than relinquishing their cat to a shelter.
Perhaps people who abandoned their cats this way think that someone will come around to the property and rescue the cat. Maybe someone will but when? I would expect a estate agent (realtor in the USA) to come around in due course to assess the value and market the property.
Although there are many instances of genuine bad luck that leads to foreclosure often it is essentially all the fault of the borrower who may have over extended himself. The banks too are often to blame. If a bank lends to someone who can’t afford to pay the installments they are irresponsible and that has happened millions of times over the past 5-10 years hence the banking chaos in America. It has also happened many times in the UK, Spain and other European countries which suffered the banking crisis.
Banks are also culpable in the killing of cats through abandonment. OK, it is an indirect cause and effect but the cause is there.
The truth is surely that people who abandon their cats on foreclosure should never really have kept a cat in the first place. They just do not have the right attitude, surely? Perhaps I am being too harsh and not sensitive enough. I don’t think I am because there are so many other things you can do when your home is repossessed by a bank that would save the life of a cat.
For example, it takes months for a bank to foreclose. It can take 6 months to a year over all if the borrower is in negotiation with a bank and/or the process goes to court for a court order. In Britain all repossessions need a court order unless the borrower agrees to leave the property and hand it back to the bank. Over these months there is plenty of time to find a new home for your cat if repossession looks likely. You see, I just don’t think there are hardly any circumstances when abandoning your cat in a foreclosed property can be excused.
Obviously, the concept of “foreclosure cats” comes from the United States because the word “foreclosure” is an American word. This begs the question whether this form of animal cruelty is more prevalent in the United States than elsewhere. I have no idea to be honest. I confess, though, that I had not heard of it until I read about it from an American author. I suspect that the truth is that America is much more vocal on these subjects and America has the biggest internet market. There is much more American internet information sloshing around than any other form of information which may paint a distorted picture about peoples’ relationship with their cats in that country.
Original picture on Flickr