At its heart, cat hoarding is about trying to care for a large number of animals without the ability or funding to do the job properly resulting in a negative impact upon the welfare of the cats to the point where many of them die.
When an individual person is involved with cat hoarding that individual may be mentally ill slightly to varying degrees, it depends upon the person (delusional and OCD disorders come to mind). But not all cat hoarders are mentally ill. Many simply can’t cope and perhaps can’t admit it while at the same time their cats become ill. Cat hoarders often deny or don’t recognise the deteriorating health of their cats.
Does this sound familiar? Many cat shelters are apparently underfunded or under resourced. Many cat shelters have many cats coming in but not enough homes to go to. Often in the news media you read about cat shelters being swamped with an influx of cats particularly during the breeding season.
You often hear about high kill rates at shelters because the shelter cannot find homes for the cats. Often these kill rates are as high as 70% and more although that figure is gradually declining across United States. These cats come into the shelter healthy but unwanted and leave the shelter by the back door sometimes into a gas chamber where they are euphemistically euthanized but actually ‘killed’ is the right word.
There is certainly a great similarity between an overstretched shelter that does not employ strictly no kill principles and a cat hoarder who is in charge of her faculties but can’t cope due to time and funding issues.
On that basis, Harvey Harrison, a regular visitor to this website, has a point. You could argue that some cat shelters are legalized cat hoarders in disguise. The disguise is that they present to the world an image of being a cat shelter – a place where cats are sheltered, looked after and re-homed – but this is not always the case, quite obviously.
However, there is possibly a difference because at a cat shelter there is at least a concern, usually, for the welfare of the cats while they are alive at the shelter. Yes, many are killed deliberately and also many are vaccinated and cared for reasonably with the assistance of a vet. The staff should be trained etc.. The general tenor is to help the cats while they are at the shelter but of course this is dramatically spoilt by the other fact that they are often deliberately killed because no one wants them and sometimes (rarely?) I recall reading that declawing is mandatory.
Perhaps it could be argued that deliberately killing a domestic cat is worse than allowing a cat to die through negligence and neglect, which is what happens at the home of a cat hoarder. Do you think that some cat shelters should be redefined as cat hoarders?