Foreclosure Cats

“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).

House Foreclosure
House Foreclosure. Photo by JefferyTurner
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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

3 thoughts on “Foreclosure Cats”

  1. If there is one single thing I would refuse to part with in my life, it would be my cats. I’d rather have no clothes or food but still have my cats and make sure they are looked after one way or other, preferably by me, and if not, perhaps temporarily by a friend or family member till I can look after them again. I would also try not to ever leave them. I would try to be with them at all times so they dont get overly stressed. Nothing else matters as much as they do. They are living beings. People who dump their cats obviously never really loved them. If you live with a cat and don’t love it then you are just an asshole and the cat is your accessory. That’s awful. I read the other day on a blog from a foster mum that one lady came looking for a calico cat to match her curtains. The foster mum rightly didn’t let the lady in to see any of her kittens after that comment.

    Some people really are out of their minds. Clearly it has to do with the nature of culture and ego and materialism. It’s terrible to hear about cats who are given away by their owners. Honestly though, those cats probably didn’t have very nice lives to begin with so its like adding insult to injury and the cost is potentially deadly. It makes me sad and angry. If I ever suspected this to be happening I would kidnap the cat and give it a better life. One ‘friend’ of mine gave a kitten away to somebody I never met but when I asked in more detail about the lady I deduced she was not right. For a start it was a gift to her apparently rough screaming child who scared the cat. They couldn’t catch it and then got scratched forcing it into the carrier. I loved this kitten very much and it made me so angry. For seconds, my ‘friend’ was like ‘yeah she’s really nice I’m sure she will be fine, o yeah she is an interesting lady, a total jet setter apparently’. I can just see this cat being lonely or abandoned when this lady and her son go on one of their many jet setting holidays. I have a bad feeling about this lady and I have tried to find out where she lives but I can’t. I know its a little criminal of me to think about it this way, but if I saw that kitten shortly after the ‘adoption’ I would have grabbed her and taken her to my place for a better life with Red who was her best buddy at the time. My ‘friend’ is not a good cat caretaker and a totally shyte judge of character. From the info I backhandedly got out of her about the adoption I was able to ascertain that the adopter was not the type to val in love with her little kitten by any means. This coupled with the fact that I was very close with said kitten just made me panic. I tried to track her down via Facebook – I know the area she lives in but that sit. It was a year ago. So I guess it’s too late. O well.

    Many people want an animal for the wrong reasons and they have the wrong ideas about what will be involved. It’s downright sad.

  2. I think it’s dreadful that anyone abandons their house leaving a cat inside, there is no excuse at all and in the case of someone mentally ill, surely someone else responsible for that ill person should be responsible for any pets they had too. If no friend or relative, then Social Services,or whatever similar organisation they have in other countries.
    I can’t understand why some people don’t see animals as living beings and how they can relinquish them or abandon them and walk uncaringly away, to me they are not fit to be called human beings!

    • Totally agree. I find it hard to find a justifiable reason for leaving a cat or dog behind in house that is foreclosed.

      Perhaps someone can enlighten me. I don’t know. It smacks of careless, cruel human behavior that totally disrespects the rights of animals.


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