If Cat Hoarding Is a Mental Illness Why Don’t They Receive Treatment More Often?

By Michelle

People generally agree that cat hoarders suffer from a mental health problem. It is often a relatively minor mental health problem but ultimately it comes down to a health issue. Although this is not always the case. Sometimes a cat hoarder likes to receive praise from other people in the rescue business and sometimes they get money out of it in which case it can well be criminal behaviour.

However, my guess is that about 90% of the time cat hoarders just simply don’t know how to control or manage their life and they end up getting in to cat rescue over their heads when they can no longer cope at which point both the hoarder and the cats suffer.

Cat rescue from hoarder
Rescue from a cat hoarder
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

If we agree that cat hoarding is due to mental health issues how often do these people receive treatment and support from the local health authorities? It could be argued that the best way to deal with a cat hoarder is the intervention of a veterinarian and a mental health specialist. The veterinarian can ensure that the cats are all spayed and neutered (90% of the cats should be spayed at least) and she/he can check the cats for their health and provide advice to the hoarder as to how best to manage.

The mental health specialist can then provide a course of treatment. This may well entail the cat hoarder talking through his/her problems and so the treatment will essentially be about counselling and talking therapy to alter the state of mind of the cat hoarder. Drugs may be used as well.

The goal is to make a permanent and positive change in the behaviour of the cat hoarder so there would be follow up and ongoing treatment in the style of a social worker. Simply taking the cats away from the hoarder and possibly punishing the hoarder doesn’t usually resolve the matter in the long term. Cat hoarders go back to their old ways because they have a mental health issue which always drives the person back to the same behaviour.

I don’t remember reading reports about a psychiatrist diagnosing and treating a cat hoarder or a veterinarian helping the cat hoarder to better manage the cats. Perhaps I just missed this aspect of the stories and if so I apologise. Does anybody know how often cat hoarders are treated by medical specialists if at all?

7 thoughts on “If Cat Hoarding Is a Mental Illness Why Don’t They Receive Treatment More Often?”

  1. I believe that hoarding is an addiction combined with a pathological need to boost self esteem.

    There should be treatment. However, with our economy being as it is, most mental health and addiction treatments have been cut so badly that only a rare few can receive help if they have the bucks. Plus, I don’t think that the commitment to help the addicted is strong anymore. We have regressed in our thinking.

    Reply
  2. Drugs make people become hoarders as well and not with just animals as I found out when I flew out to Fresno,CA last year :O(

    Reply
    • Thanks Irish. Drugs are a last resort for. Talking therapy is better and I agree with the point made in the article that we should be treating these people where possible and not criminalising them.

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