Sunday 16 March 2008

Cat Hoarding

cat hoarding lots of cats
Barn cats actually.

Cat hoarding or animal hoarding is not uncommon. My research indicates, surprisingly, that it is not currently known what causes it. Cats are the most common animal to hoard. Older women are the most common hoarders. Hoarding, however, is not confined to old poor women.

For me, it has to be a form of mental illness as the hoarder is not thinking rationally (is it OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?). This is because they think they are doing some form of good for the cats but the cats are often in a poor state of health and dying prematurely. The form of mental illness is perhaps borderline. Their are many people with borderline mental illnesses who are able to present to the world a fairly normal persona. It could be argued that these people are just a bit odd but I think it must go further because as mentioned cats are dying around them and making a catastrophic mess in the home. This goes beyond laziness and ignorance and eccentricity.

Commonly, the living conditions under which the hoarder and the cats co-habit are appalling, indicating a lack of control by the hoarder over his/her life. There are countless millions of people who live in appalling conditions, having totally lost control of their lives and/or given up. We can't be critical of them unless we know the reason and criticism is warranted. These people are left alone. It is the presence of cats (or other hoarded animals) that results in the attention of the authorities.

The hoarder will have a love of cats (if she is a cat hoarder) but cannot translate it into creating an environment beneficial to the welfare of the cats. In other words, cannot express that love properly. They must have a low level sense of concern for others. This indicates an introverted mentality, living internally, which may indicate neglect, for example, as a child.

I am surprised that we are still in the dark as to the causes. The Journal of The American Veterinarian Association says that 76% are female, 46% are 60 years or over - older females and living alone.

Cat hoarding - Update 12-9-08: I've done a bit more work on this as cat hoarding regularly pops up in the news. Almost every week we see and example of it and often there are a very large number of cats a substantial proportion of which have died while the remainder are in poor health.

A study by MASSHOUSING Community Services Conference, 2007 Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD found that statistically the type of person most likely to be an cat hoarder (or animal hoarder as the study was concerned with animal hoarding) was a woman who was older, isolated and "socioeconomically disadvantaged". I think this last phrase means financially poor and living in the "underclass" (no cruelty or rudeness intended).

The study identified three types of person. First there is the overwhelmed caregiver. This type of cat hoarding is in part due to a change of circumstances and being unable to problem solve effectively. The person's self esteem is bound up with caring for the cats (or animals). The cat hoarding happens is a passive manner i.e. it just creeps up on her I think it fair to say.

Another type of cat hoarding is by a rescue worker. The rescue work leads to a compulsion and adoption of the rescued cats falls away and the population of cats thereby increases.

The third type of cat hoarding is by a person the study described as the "Exploiter Hoarder". This type of person has sociopathic tendencies (antisocial personality disorder - disregard for the rights of others) and lacks empathy towards the cats (or animals). This sort of person has no concept or concern for harm caused.

Personally I think that the majority of people involved in cat hoarding are people who are:
  • Unable to cope adequately
  • Poor problem solvers therefore
  • Have few friends - outsiders
  • Find comfort in animal company
  • But can't cope with caring for animals due to poor problem solving
  • Lose control of the situation due to poor problem solving
  • And lack sensitivity for the suffering of the cats or animals. They have a tenderness ostensibly but are actually quite cold emotionally. This coldness may come from a lack of emotional development - arrested development could be a factor.
Related Pages:
Picture: Lots of cats - this picture copyright ulfhednarr is in fact of barn cats so it is simply giving a feel for what a lot of cats together is like. They are not hoarded cats to the best of my knowledge.

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