A framework for eradicating cat hoarding in the United States of America

USA: You’ll never get rid of cat hoarding under the current state of affairs. I realise that no one is seriously interested in this topic and fixing the problem but I’ll still discuss it. This article concerns the US. It is a topic that I feel I know something about. Feel free to comment.

Cat hoarding - lots of cats!
Picture by Amy Qualls-McClure
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Cat hoarding, which is reported in online newspapers on a daily basis is rooted in three failures: an oversupply of cats, an undersupply of law and law enforcement in this area of human activity and a lack of education among a small minority of cat owners on how to care for cats to a good and sustainable standard. Today almost everything to do with cat hoarding and law enforcement is reactive as opposed to proactive. This results in a huge amount of cat distress, pain and injury through neglect. It would be far better to act proactively.

Schools should educated children about animal welfare too
Schools should educate children about animal welfare too. Photo: Michael. The photo was taken in Malta. The speaker is Martha Kane of Kitty Appeal. She has died sadly. She was a fine lady.


Being educated on how best to care for domestic cats is connected to law and law enforcement. If there were tighter rules including tougher penalties on cat ownership concerning vaccinations, microchipping and a legal limit to the number of cats in homes it would feed back to how potential cat owners should be educated on cat caring. It would give educating on companion animal husbandry a sharp edge. Education on companion animal husbandry would become necessary.

A tighter and tougher legal framework on cat ownership needs to be put in place. Yes, I know this would be resisted by people who object to their freedoms being curtailed but there is a necessity to change habits regarding cat ownership in the interests of cat and human welfare and this is best done through a clear legal framework on cat ownership. It needs to be less laissez-faire and more structured. The problem is that cat ownership is a low priority issue for politicians, the lawmakers, which is why we have far too much cat hoarding which is cat neglect and abuse.

Martha Kane and her class on animal welfare
Martha Kane and her class on animal welfare

When people know the legal framework, schools can introduced classes based on the legal requirements to be a good cat owner. Educating young people on cat caring skills would help remove the need to enforce the law. The law can effect a culture shift. Take wearing vehicle seat belts for instance. There was a time before seat belts that the thought of wearing one was considered a nuisance and a problem. It became law to wear them and gradually the habit of using a seat belt became ingrained and unquestioned. This change in driving culture all started with a change to the road traffic laws.

Gov. John Carney signs feral cat protection bill into law
Gov. John Carney signs feral cat protection bill into law. This is just an example of cat law to illustrate the page.

Law changes society and vice versa

Changes in society should result in upgrades to the law which in turn changes society. It is virtuous circle. As cat domestication became more popular problems of oversupply of domestic cats developed. There are too many unwanted domestic cats combined with a failure of cat ownership in a minority which is starkly apparent in a large population of feral cats which cause untold headaches for local authorities in many areas of the US.

Beth an animal loving police officer
Beth an animal loving police officer

Law enforcement

The big barrier to eradicating cat hoarding is law enforcement. It is nearly impossible to enforce a law limiting the number of cats to households. This is because there are too many homes with domestic cats and often the cats are out of sight. If the enforcement of limits to cat numbers is impossible for practical reasons there has to be a reliance on complying with the law voluntarily. This is an attitude change which starts at schools and as mentioned the curriculum for classes on companion animal husbandry should be based on the law of cat ownership.

There isn’t enough law on modern day cat ownership. With respect to domestic cat ownership things have changed hugely over 50 years. The statistics are vast. This puts pressure on the need to upgrade the law. Legal framework upgrades should be followed by a change to the student curriculum on a state by state basis.

There is a negative cycle at present whereby people who are bad cat guardians educate their children in bad habits. This cycle needs to be broken through education. We then have to refer to the law once again.

Cat hoarding is a symptom of human failure in cat ownership. It causes untold misery for cats who deserve better. It needs to be eradicated. There is no place for it but it is tacitly accepted. It is time to change.

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