There is another cat hoarding story going around the internet (May 26th 2012) and what is useful in this case is that we have the alleged cat hoarder on video having her say in the matter and defending herself. To hear her and listen to what she says helps us understand where the truth lies and gives us a bit of an insight into cat hoarding. In the United States cat hoarding stories are probably second only to feral cat population stories.
This case concerns an 81 year old Frenchwoman, Lucienne Touboul, living in Arizona - an immediate culture clash. She has a strong French accent and she speaks poor English. I also sense that she may be suffering from slight dementia problems, which would be normal at 81 years of age. You can see immediately that there will be a communication problem with Arizona police who I would expect to be not that patient or sympathetic and I am afraid to say they may be prejudiced. I am not saying they are being racist but there will be an enormous clash of culture. This culture clash has certainly made things worse for Lucienne Touboul. In fact it may be at the heart of the problem. It is probably more that just about culture. They could well be a stereotyping problem too.
This is the link to the video:
There is no doubt that Touboul wishes to help unwanted cats. And there is no doubt that there are lots of cats that need to be wanted. She has good intentions but is unable to execute her desires to care for unwanted cats because of her age which affects her physical and mental capacity. She kept 64 cats. I believe this is the second time she has had a run in with the authorities. The last time she had 104 and they were put down. So she has a history.
On the last occasion, in 2010, she kept ten cats in a freezer. She admits to keeping dead cats in the freezer in preparation for burial. It appears that the police have interpreted this in some way as a desire by Lucienne Touboul to eat her dead cats. She denies this and a friend of hers has said that it is a misinterpretation of "catfish soup" that she eats. When you listen to Lucienne Touboul you can see the problems. I believe her and feel that the police have done her a disservice. She does have the crazy cat woman look about her. You know what I mean. If you are foreign, speak with a strange accent, are old, say slightly unconventional things and unintelligible things and keep lots of cats, you are going to look like a crazy cat woman and a cat hoarder to the police.
Keeping a lot of cats cannot automatically be cat hoarding can it? Lynea Lattanzio who keeps hundreds of cats is not a cat hoarder. There has to an element of animal cruelty about it too. And if Lucienne Touboul is unable to cope and execute her decent intentions there will be negligence in keeping a large number of cats and that will lead to poor conditions and cat caretaking leaving cats exposed to poor health. I don't know whether that qualifies as cat cruelty in a criminal sense.
The humane society showed kittens with conjunctivitis as an indication of animal cruelty. I think this is incorrect. URIs are commonplace in kittens and this woman simply failed to cope. The Humane Society seem to have indicated that they may have to euthanise all the cats. That seems like an overreaction. It is more the action of people who want to get rid of surplus cats and this is a convenient moment to do it. I don't like it. It looks wrong to me.
She is not a criminal. She needs some help and so do the cats. The heavy handed police who lack sensitivity and understanding have mismanaged the situation.
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