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October 12th 05, 02:15 PM
Does anyone have experience dealing with a cat hoarder? I was
approached by an elderly couple about a month ago for spay/neuter and
adoption assistance. One week later, the husband asked whether he could
take three of his cats to my vet, as they were sick. They were dying
from anemia and had to be euthanized (three more were since
euthanized). It turns out he had 70+ cats in his house, only 10 of
which are altered and is dealing with a severe flea infestation.

History: Animal Control was actually at the former residence of the
couple 2-3 months ago and randomly removed somewhere between 25 and 35
cats (including two altered animals). The other cats simply hid, and
some escaped during the raid. I am calling it a raid as this was what
the couple described it as. They apparently had offered to help round
up cats and get them into carriers, but Animal Control refused the
help. Instead, they simply caught whichever cats they could with dog
catch poles. Subsequently, Animal Control did not involve anyone else
e.g. Social Services, so the couple is not receiving counseling or
other help, nor were they charged in court, they were simply evicted
from the home.

I have at this point removed 32 kittens and 13 adoptable adults from
the house, with app. 40 cats remaining. Everyone at the house has now
been treated for fleas and moved into the two least infested rooms. The
cats are pretty much unsocialized i.e. unadoptable. The couple has
started to clean up the house. But they need more help than I can get
them. They need help with the clean-up or it will take months. They
have no running water and no usable kitchen (ruined by the cats). They
can neither pay for the altering of 40 cats, nor care for them (I have
requested a grant but it will only cover 10 animals). They need
monitoring so that they do not acquire new animals (but I do believe it
is in everyone's interest to return some - altered - cats to them, to
suppress the urge to take in new animals).

Where do I turn for help, without involving Animal Control at this
point?

October 12th 05, 02:37 PM
wrote:
> Does anyone have experience dealing with a cat hoarder? I was
> approached by an elderly couple about a month ago for spay/neuter and
> adoption assistance. One week later, the husband asked whether he could
> take three of his cats to my vet, as they were sick. They were dying
> from anemia and had to be euthanized (three more were since
> euthanized). It turns out he had 70+ cats in his house, only 10 of
> which are altered and is dealing with a severe flea infestation.
>
> History: Animal Control was actually at the former residence of the
> couple 2-3 months ago and randomly removed somewhere between 25 and 35
> cats (including two altered animals). The other cats simply hid, and
> some escaped during the raid. I am calling it a raid as this was what
> the couple described it as. They apparently had offered to help round
> up cats and get them into carriers, but Animal Control refused the
> help. Instead, they simply caught whichever cats they could with dog
> catch poles. Subsequently, Animal Control did not involve anyone else
> e.g. Social Services, so the couple is not receiving counseling or
> other help, nor were they charged in court, they were simply evicted
> from the home.
>
> I have at this point removed 32 kittens and 13 adoptable adults from
> the house, with app. 40 cats remaining. Everyone at the house has now
> been treated for fleas and moved into the two least infested rooms. The
> cats are pretty much unsocialized i.e. unadoptable. The couple has
> started to clean up the house. But they need more help than I can get
> them. They need help with the clean-up or it will take months. They
> have no running water and no usable kitchen (ruined by the cats). They
> can neither pay for the altering of 40 cats, nor care for them (I have
> requested a grant but it will only cover 10 animals). They need
> monitoring so that they do not acquire new animals (but I do believe it
> is in everyone's interest to return some - altered - cats to them, to
> suppress the urge to take in new animals).
>
> Where do I turn for help, without involving Animal Control at this
> point?

Do you have a local humane society or rescue group, for the welfare of
the cats?
For the welfare of the people, I don't know. The house sounds
uninhabitable. Have you checked with social services?
The other solution would be to start fundraising and establish some
foster homes, and ultimately start adopting them out. That's much
easier said than done, and you've got to have a corps of volunteers to
make it work. That's one thing you could discuss with the humane
society folks.
Man. Good luck. It is good of you to try to help those people. I hope
social services can help with counseling for them.
Your animal control sounds sucky. A lot of them are. They're into
catching/warehousing/killing animals and nothing more. Any A/C
department is no better than the level of compassion of the people who
run it.

Sherry

October 12th 05, 02:42 PM
One thing I forgot. The media can be your best friend. Call the TV
stations, radio stations, newspapers. Put posters in your
animal-care-related stores and vets. This sounds like a great human
interest story. If they run it, you'll gain the sympathy of local
animal lovers, and you'll most certainly get much-needed donations and
volunteers. It would be better to do this through a 501(c)3 rescue org.
or humane society; there would be more credibility than just an
individual raising funds. If you can't do that, you could establish a
fund at the local bank. Good luck, again. Please let us know how this
turns out.
Also, lobby your vets to help you pro bono. They'll get great
publicity.

Sherry

chas
October 12th 05, 04:30 PM
Congratualtions for all your hard work. You ahve done the animals proud. But
there are still 40 left that need saving from these people who don't just
need help with the cats - they need help for themselves to and even legal
sanctions to stop them for being so stupid in the future.

No one should keep this many animals as pets - how can they possibly look
after them?

In the UK we get the same similar stories in the media from time to time -
most recent one with over 100 pets - and the place ankle deep in excrement.

Many of the poor creatures were found dead by the time the authorities got
involved - and many more were too ill to save.

If anyone suspects someone is hoarding animals they have a duty to report it
to the authorities.

Even if those animals end up being destroyed.

Living in conditions such as these are living hell for the poor creatures
and it is likely that the persons who took them in may have mental health
issues - after all anyone who keeps this many pets in their home CANNOT be
making a rational decision to do so.

chas

October 12th 05, 06:42 PM
I agree - the people who cause this do have mental health issues. At
least in this case (contrary to most hoarding cases), the people asked
for help and want to get help for themselves and the animals. It's just
that they want to give the animals they have caused suffering for so
far to have a chance at living a normal life versus being destroyed.
They have agreed that it would be better for the non-adoptable animals
to be euthanized than to continue living in these conditions, but in an
ideal world, they would like to place them with rescues (the local
shelter is tiny, overloaded and given the fact that it is in a very
rural setting, sees very few adoptions of cats).

Think about it - the authorities have already been involved, and all
they did was remove animals, but took no steps to help the people. How
should anyone without health insurance and with minimum income help
themselves and the animals on their own? The couple is spending every
penny they have on food, litter & as much medical care for the animals
as they can possibly afford (which included a PU surgery for a blocked
male cat and an enucleation for a kitten). Most authorities still don't
understand that a hoarder can only be helped holistically - which is
why I am trying to find non-government organizations which help get
them back on their feet, before involving government authorities who
can then follow up on maintaining an acceptable standard of living for
both the people and any remaining animals (ideally just their
'original' cats, that is five, which are all altered at this point).

-L.
October 12th 05, 06:55 PM
wrote:
> Does anyone have experience dealing with a cat hoarder?

You need to involve animal control. Hoarding is a mental illness. You
need to also involve your county social services department.

-L.

Kalyahna
October 13th 05, 04:23 AM
> wrote in message
oups.com...
> I agree - the people who cause this do have mental health issues. At
> least in this case (contrary to most hoarding cases), the people asked
> for help and want to get help for themselves and the animals. It's just
> that they want to give the animals they have caused suffering for so
> far to have a chance at living a normal life versus being destroyed.

It sounds like you've made an excellent start with the cats you've gotten
out of the home already.

> They have agreed that it would be better for the non-adoptable animals
> to be euthanized than to continue living in these conditions, but in an
> ideal world, they would like to place them with rescues (the local
> shelter is tiny, overloaded and given the fact that it is in a very
> rural setting, sees very few adoptions of cats).

If you can provide transportation, check with shelters in slightly bigger
cities. Speak to the executive director and try to arrange to bring in the
friendliest/most adoptable cats and kittens in small groups (five or so at a
time). Keep in mind that this time of year, space is still quite limited -
the end of kitten season and many shelters taking in cats from the
hurricanes still. Check with larger shelters to see if there are any feral
rescue groups in your area that would be willing to take a few of the
unsocialized cats.

> Think about it - the authorities have already been involved, and all
> they did was remove animals, but took no steps to help the people. How
> should anyone without health insurance and with minimum income help
> themselves and the animals on their own? The couple is spending every
> penny they have on food, litter & as much medical care for the animals
> as they can possibly afford (which included a PU surgery for a blocked
> male cat and an enucleation for a kitten). Most authorities still don't
> understand that a hoarder can only be helped holistically - which is
> why I am trying to find non-government organizations which help get
> them back on their feet, before involving government authorities who
> can then follow up on maintaining an acceptable standard of living for
> both the people and any remaining animals (ideally just their
> 'original' cats, that is five, which are all altered at this point).

Social services should still be involved. Perhaps especially in a rural
area, the couple may be more likely to take in strays they find. Six or
seven isn't much more than five, and if they add one or two like that even
every few months... all it takes is an unaltered pair to start this all over
again. They need SOMEone to keep on top of the conditions and the numbers.

As Sherry suggested, call your local vets. They may be willing to do
low-cost spays and neuters, or they may have contacts in other cities that
would be willing to do so, or that have contacts with other rescue groups or
shelters or whatnot for medical attention or for rehoming.

MaryL
October 13th 05, 01:49 PM
> wrote in message
oups.com...
><snip> History: Animal Control was actually at the former residence of the
> couple 2-3 months ago and randomly removed somewhere between 25 and 35
> cats (including two altered animals). The other cats simply hid, and
> some escaped during the raid. I am calling it a raid as this was what
> the couple described it as. They apparently had offered to help round
> up cats and get them into carriers, but Animal Control refused the
> help. Instead, they simply caught whichever cats they could with dog
> catch poles. Subsequently, Animal Control did not involve anyone else
> e.g. Social Services, so the couple is not receiving counseling or
> other help, nor were they charged in court, they were simply evicted
> from the home.
>
><snip>
> Where do I turn for help, without involving Animal Control at this
> point?
>

Is there a chapter of the Humane Society or other animal welfare group in
your area? Alley Cat Allies will sometimes help in situations like this.
Incidentally, Animal Control really botched this *if* the couple are
reporting the facts correctly. Please keep in mind that hoarders often do
not report actions correctly, so the story you have been told may be only
"partially" true. If it is true, however, you might even be able to get the
press involved -- that will often bring quick results.

MaryL

October 13th 05, 03:53 PM
Our local Humane Society only provides spay/neuter assistance to low
income households for a maximum of two cats, but they have promised to
send these. I've requested a grant from SpayUSA because this is
essentially a colony, even though not feral in the classic sense as
they don't live outside, but they said they are currently out of money
and it may take a few weeks before they can help. I'll try Alley Cat
Allies as well, thanks for the tip. I am working with a vet who has
offered to neuter for $20 and spay for $35, but I'm trying to get as
much financial assistance as possible, as I'm running a little low on
funding following all the medical costs I've already covered (six
euths, three of which were previously hospitalized, two eye surgeries
on kittens, x-rays and cast for a cat with a broken leg, not to mention
the CapStar and Frontline for everyone, as well as the vaccines, Albon
& Metronidazole for everyone at my house).

I know the local Animal Control Officer and have no reason to believe
the couple is not telling the truth. Everyone who knows this ACO is
appalled that the individual is still employed in this capacity, even
after several incidents were reported to the police and the press
during the past couple of years. Guess noone else wants to do the job.

I do want to involve Social Services, but I'm trying to get to a point
before I do this where they won't simply walk in and condemn the house
(which essentially means evicting the couple and euthanizing all cats).
I have been going by their house every couple of days to check/help and
they are making progress as far as cleaning up the place is concerned
(I did have to coerce them into getting a container, but since it's
been delivered things are moving along much better). Once there is no
danger of the house being condemmed, I will involve the appropriate
government agencies which can then take care of assisting the couple in
the long term (which I do not have the capacity [or interest - in fact,
I never want to be involved in anything like this again in my life!] to
do).

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

chas
October 13th 05, 04:51 PM
By not involving Social Services till YOU deem it the right time also means
this couple will not get the help THEY need.

Social Services need to see conditions as they are NOW to understand the
problem.

What stops this couple from doing it all over again in the future?

Lack of help and contact from Social Services has been their problem in the
first place.

I assume they have no family/friends/neighbours who want to help (other than
yourself)

You are doing a wonderful job here and I am not getting at you. But your
reluctance to bring in Social Services is misguided. Have you considered how
many OTHER people knew of these circumstances before you discovered them -
but also did not want to bring in Social Services?

These people need the right professional help.

You are ONE person - presumably with a life of your own as well. Please
don't make the mistake of getting emotionally involved.

chas

October 20th 05, 06:23 PM
Chas (and all others which were worried about not involving official
authorities),
Animal Control got involved yesterday - they agreed to wait till next
week to come to the house and seize any remaining cats. I have an
adoptathon scheduled for the weekend and the couple has asked several
other local rescues to check whether they have space for a few cats
each. I wasn't very successful with the news media (given that I also
wanted to protect both the couples and my identity), but two channels
did say they would try to talk about the adoptathon on their Saturday
morning pet show. The couple has consented to agree to a charge of
animal
cruelty/animal neglect, and to conform with a cort order to own no more

than a number of yet to be decided altered cats for the rest of their
life. They will also receive counseling. This is probably about as good

as it gets in a situation like this.

chas
October 20th 05, 07:59 PM
You have done a fantanstic job. Those cats were doomed to a continuing
hellish existence without your intervention and hard work.

It's even better to hear that the people concerned will not be able to do
this again.

Many congratulations to you for all your hard work.

chas

cybercat
October 20th 05, 11:09 PM
> wrote:

>They will also receive counseling. This is probably about as good as it
>gets in a situation like this.

Good job, all the way around.

MaryL
October 24th 05, 08:21 AM
> wrote in message
ps.com...
> Chas (and all others which were worried about not involving official
> authorities),
> Animal Control got involved yesterday - they agreed to wait till next
> week to come to the house and seize any remaining cats. I have an
> adoptathon scheduled for the weekend and the couple has asked several
> other local rescues to check whether they have space for a few cats
> each. I wasn't very successful with the news media (given that I also
> wanted to protect both the couples and my identity), but two channels
> did say they would try to talk about the adoptathon on their Saturday
> morning pet show. The couple has consented to agree to a charge of
> animal
> cruelty/animal neglect, and to conform with a cort order to own no more
>
> than a number of yet to be decided altered cats for the rest of their
> life. They will also receive counseling. This is probably about as good
>
> as it gets in a situation like this.
>

I hadn't checked this thread for awhile, so I just saw your latest message.
Congratulations! This is a fantastic achievement. Most people would have
ignored the situation or just called animal control and then figured that
their responsibility was "over." You took direct action and undoubtedly
saved many kitties in the process. Moreover, you have probably made life
more livable for the elderly couple who were involved. Cat hoarders usually
have the best of intentions, but it is actually a mental illness and they
don't realize what harm they do to those poor animals (usually cats or dogs,
but sometimes an amazing array of animals will be found in situations such
as what you described). The fact that you got them to agree to counseling
is remarkable.

Thank you!
MaryL