What is considered cat hoarding?
There is a fine line between cat hoarding and successful cat rescue. When cat rescue becomes impossible for the rescuer to manage it becomes hoarding.
There are two aspects to cat hoarding and one without the other is not considered cat hoarding. I’ll rely partly on aspca.org.
- The alleged cat hoarder possesses more than the typical number of cats;
- She or he in unable to provide a minimum level of proper care to her cats including; veterinary care, shelter, nutrition and sanitation.
There is a wonderful lady who runs The Cat House on the Kings. The last time I checked around 2 years ago she was caring for up to 1000 rescue cats. That’s more than the typical number of cats I believe.
She is not a cat hoarder because unbelievably the cats are well cared for even if they have taken over her home and grounds completely and that it costs the earth to maintain them. This is an awesome operation.
Cat hoarding can be cat rescue and cat rescue can become cat hoarding. I think in fact that the term ‘cat hoarding’ is misleading. It is more about being unable to cope and being unable to realise that state of affairs. I think too that animal services can get it wrong. Sometimes there is a clear example of mental health issues from the cat rescuer but on other occasions the person seems reasonable and kind-hearted but a poor manager of her cats and her life. A lot of people mismanage their lives and their homes. It’s a human quality and failing but not a crime.
There is woman in woman in San Antonio who’s actively involved in cat rescue. She rescues cat that have been injured, shot or poisoned. She gets veterinary care and re-homes them. Animal services have had to intervene on no less than three occasions in 2007, 2015 and November 2017.
This last time the assistant director of Animal Care Services (ACS), Shannon Sims, described her as a chronic cat hoarder. The alleged cat hoarder is D’Ann Trethan. She says:
“I am not a cat hoarder, I am a rescue person that loves and cares for animals.”
That sounds rational and reasonable to me. So we have a stark difference of opinion between the professionals and the individual cat rescuer. Perhaps she is delusional but I don’t believe so. She just cares a lot for animals but is unable to manage her life as a cat rescuer. She can’t say no to herself when the next injured cat presents himself to her.
D’Ann Trethan also feeds feral cats. One hundred and fifty of them in fact. She says that if she was a cat hoarder she’d have them in her house. She hasn’t.
She says that she can smell the stench of ammonia in her home which indicates she is rational and understands her predicament. She did not have time to clean up the house before ACS turned up to inspect.
“These animals are confined in cruel conditions with an excess amount of urine and feces throughout the home, deprived of necessary veterinary care, and clean sanitary shelter.”
It is interesting that (a) no one is concerned about the humans living in the home which is apparently uninhabitable and (b) Sims said that the cats looked healthy. Although in contradicting her ACS said that without intervention the cats would suffer and contract illness and possibly die.
Cat hoarding is a complicated subject. I have been deliberately ambivalent. There is a fine line between hoarding and successful cat rescue. No one has mentioned whether D’Ann Threthan has successfully rehomed cats and improved the lives of cats. I suspect that she has. I would have liked to have seen a report on that as it would provide a balanced appraisal. Just because a group of cats in a home are living in poor conditions it does not mean that they do not eventually find their way into good homes or that their lives are not improved.
ACS are deciding whether to charge D’Ann Trethan of a felony charge of animal cruelty. I think it would be cruel to the lady to do that. She is fighting to keep her cats. She’d do better to reappraise her life and lifestyle, continue in cat rescue but make sure she copes in accordance with animal welfare laws.
Source of cat hoarding story: ksat.com. The rest is mine.
I like the way you presented this quandary Michael. The subject does deserve balance. My first thought about it was the question of intent. While people who are ill mentally can mismanage their collection of cats and be technically guilty of cruelty, perfectly well intended people who do okay for years can suddenly find themselves in an untenable situation, and as cats get sicker it gets worse exponentially quickly. Even I with 14 cats at one point became swallowed up by it, but I only racked up big financial debt. I just think a new and different name should be used for folks who simply find themselves in over their head. I find it difficult to point fingers labeling someone a cruel criminal if they simply find themselves circling the drain along with the poor animals they alone are trying to save. They need help not condemnation. Cat haters are first in line to do such a thing too.
Completely agree with you. I sort of hinted at that. I think it is a tricky subject and the police and prosecutors should be very cautious in turning these people into criminals.