Categories: hoarders

Would-be cat hoarders should reach out to animal shelters for help before it’s too late

There is one topic which is certain to arise in the online news media on an ongoing basis and that is stories of cat hoarding. I would put stories of cat hoarding in the top three topics about cats on the Internet. Clearly there are too many hoarders and there are too many suffering cats. Cat hoarding is a form of possession hoarding which in turn is a mental health issue. Perhaps it is born out of insecurity.

SPCA-Dartmouth Shelter

I believe that more can be done in the way of proactive steps to prevent cat hoarding occurring. On occasions, I’m sure that cat hoarders become overwhelmed because of their carelessness. They arrive at cat hoarding casually and not deliberately. They love cats and take in one or two who aren’t sterilised. They breed and the process repeats itself and within a relatively short time the cat lover becomes overwhelmed.

The cats are no longer socialised and become feral. The home is destroyed and eventually, sometimes, neighbours call the police because of the smell and the endgame begins which is the recovery of all the cats by local shelters to try and place them in new homes or perhaps if they are genuinely feral them relocate them to farms where they can become barn cats. The cat hoarder is liable to be prosecuted for animal cruelty. A poor outcome for all including the cats.

Somewhere on this journey the cat hoarder should have contacted local animal shelters for help. He or she may not be aware that help is available. They may be embarrassed about their behaviour and therefore reluctant to come forward. They should be encouraged to come forward. They should contact shelters and asked them to sterilise their cats. The shelters could take in some cats to ease the burden. The deteriorating process could be checked to allow the cat hoarder time to stabilise the situation and take back control.

Is it not possible for there to be a coordinated advertising campaign by animal shelters, which puts out the word that people who have become overwhelmed by their cat companions can and should seek help? There are two aspects to help: stabilising the situation and education.

I have not seen this before but I feel strongly that the whole process of cat hoarding is dealt with in a reactionary way. All you ever see is a reaction by law enforcement and humane societies stepping in to mop up the mess and the damage done when it would be so much better to prevent it happening.

Rescue from a cat hoarder. Photo in public domain.

The Nova Scotia SPCA make this point. They say that they have been contacted by four people swamped by the number of cats that they have and which needed to be spayed and neutered and relocated. These people sought help and the Nova Scotia SPCA make it clear that people shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed by the situation which they find themselves in. They should reach out.

“Reach out and ask questions and find out about our programs because a lot may be changed. We just want to get the cats spayed or neutered and make sure that the owners can continue to enjoy their pets without the stress or burden of being able to afford to care for, feed and have an ever-growing population number.”

Heather Woodin, the director of programmes and administration at the Nova Scotia SPCA

They tell us a classic story of cat hoarding. They were recently contacted by a homeowner living in rural Nova Scotia. The person asked for help because she had become overwhelmed with 40 cats. She was forced to move out of her home by the ever increasing number of cats who were unsterilised and therefore reproducing. They stepped in and helped. Some cats had to be placed at farms because they were feral. Four kittens were socialised at the shelter and 21 adults appear to have been re-homed or are in the process of being re-homed. This was a better outcome than calling in the police and prosecuting the owner for animal cruelty.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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