Animal Welfare Professionals

 View Only
Expand all | Collapse all

Pet Hoarding

  • 1.  Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-03-2018 12:44 PM

    We have an actual case of cat hoarding. The person is not only hoarding, but also intentionally breeding. To make things worse, the population is inbred and shows increasing incidence of panleuk and CH. Offers to get the cats fixed have been declined for several years, and we are tired of this constant source of sick cats and kittens. Taking cats from this place has no effect, as they will be soon replaced by others. We are running out of ideas and wondered if someone can help with advice.


  • 2.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-03-2018 01:42 PM

    Can animal control seize the animals? All of the animals?


  • 3.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-08-2018 03:15 PM

    I am going to check with her. A year or so ago we had a conversation about a different hoarding case, and she said, there is nothing she can legally do, unless it becomes a public health issue. Our animal laws are pretty lax.


  • 4.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-09-2018 07:30 AM

    One public health angle that might help you get your foot in the door is whether the cats are up to date on Rabies vaccinations. The exact laws vary state to state, but if you have lax welfare laws, this might be your best bet. It does become a kind of joint operation between the Health Department, Animal Control, your rescue, and ideally local mental health services, which takes more planning on everyone's part. We have offered to provide free Rabies vaccines (so they avoid fines/legal charges) if the hoarder will let us spay/neuter. We also get the chance to evaluate the health of the cats (which might let your ACO find something that could result in neglect charges), treat for fleas, deworm, etc. It also lets your shelter/rescue be more of a "good guy" for the person hoarding, and gives you a chance to help convince them to downsize in a way that feels manageable for them, rather than being the "bad guy" threatening to take away their pets. The communication strategies @vfarretta mentioned are things that have helped a lot in hoarding cases we've been involved in.


  • 5.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-04-2018 09:49 AM

    Some sort of tough love is in order...either sending Animal Control to seize everything...or some sort of middle ground where you'll take kittens but ONLY if you can fix and return adults--that's assuming the hoarder is the one surrendering them to you.  If they're coming through a middle party that doesn't work.  Unfortunately we see a lot of puppy mill rejects in our area, but we get them through mediating parties--either from shelters where they're directly surrendered (usually as "strays") or from people who buy them as puppies, either to 'rescue' them or intending to keep them until they're overwhelmed by medical and behavioral issues resulting from mill life.  So we can't do much, either.  But it's not a hoarding situation there--the breeders have no mental issues other than an extreme lack of compassion for animal life.  But we'd love to say, yeah, we'll take your reject puppies but ONLY IF we can fix the parents.  Had a group of I think 5 or 6 Newfies and every one needed eye surgery.  Breeder surrendered the breeding females and a male pup, because he was keeping his Newf male to cross with standard poodle females now, to make more money. Anyhoo....


  • 6.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-04-2018 12:48 PM

    It definitely sounds like law enforcement needs to be involved. This person obviously isn't going to stop on their own. If you haven't been documenting everything, start doing so ASAP.


  • 7.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-06-2018 07:27 PM

    I have been involved with one hoarding situation and was the only one at first.  I ended up involving the hoarders son, got info from the shelter Director who wanted to help with the cats and who had an officer on stand by in case I needed his help.  I started taking by taking 7 cats out of the 50 and made a big point of communicating everything with the hoarder.  I would show her pictures of how the cats were doing and in their new homes, getting vet care, etc.  That helped a lot and she just couldn't get enough of hearing about how they were being treated, how they were etc.  She would cry and cry every time i took more of the cats.  I felt like a heel but the cats needed me, the son needed my help, and the woman needed to get to a more healthy point for her life.  I had a lot of help in placements as there were 50 cats, mostly black, all inbred, a handful needed an eye removed but it was also a Godsend that she had spent so much time with the cats in the trailer that they were all friendly, and not one turned out to have diseases other than some herpes/calici .  I learned SO MUCH about hoarding as a psychiatric disease in this case and I also learned that after all these cats lived in the tightest of quarters without cages that when one of the shelters helping put them in individual cages they all were VERY stressed out.  By the next day they doubled them up and immediately became manageable and friendly again, rather than petrified.  When they had a bowl of food and water to themselves it didn't take much more after that.  Two things i had to be careful of when adopting out.  They had never seen a dog, had no fear and i made a point of telling people they would need to be protected from dogs that didn't like cats.  They also are problem 'children' on counters as they all fought for counter space rather than walk on the floor which was utterly horrific.  I have two of the cats myself and they are really sweet cats but do love to get up high on things still   Bottom line:  What worked best with the hoarder was convincing her I could get better care for the cats than she could give them because she had so many it was impossible to keep up.  I think she actually did realize that and therefore listened to me.  I left her with 2 fixed cats, and after 2 months her son took her to the Phillipines to visit her family as she had not been able to leave her cats for over 6 years.....and 2 months later, she died of cancer.  I told the son i felt horrible about taking all her cats from her and then her dying but he convinced me she was actually so happy to see her family and she knew the cats were alive and being cared for.  I learned a lot.


  • 8.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-07-2018 06:41 AM

    Hoarding is a serious mental illness, have you tried getting her family involved?  Her church?



  • 9.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-07-2018 10:34 AM

    We do not have a law against hoarding or breeding, this is why I posted the question in this section. I would like to know what could be done on a legislative level to prevent or fight situations like this. I have not met he lady personally (due to geographical distance), but my fellow trapper out there told me all about her. She is indeed mentally ill. She does not love or care for the cats, but she wants to see kittens, due to her own history of child loss of some sort. I have to talk to our ACO, but I don't think she can do a whole lot, unless it becomes a public health issue.


  • 10.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-08-2018 08:12 AM

    The law needed here is not against hoarding, it's animal cruelty.


  • 11.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 07-09-2018 06:03 AM

    How about the agency Alley Cat Allies in Washington DC  They might have some suggestions or better yet help


  • 12.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 10-18-2018 08:42 AM

    Agree with fvareetta's approach, whether cat hoarding is a "mental health" issue or not isn't it better to try to reach out to the individual(s) who are in the situation where for whatever reason are keeping too many cats.  It seems that they are basically true cat people and doing their best though it might not be enough.  They really need the support and friendship and assistance of anyone in the community who cares about cats to help them and their cats in any way possible.  Let these situations that seem unsolvable motivate us.  If we work together we can solve these problems.


  • 13.  RE: Pet Hoarding

    Posted 10-19-2018 06:08 AM

    We are currently in a similar situation with 50 cats inside and 15 outside. The family notified us of their parent's situation, but they do not want to be involved. We are building trust with the hoarder. We are TNRing the outside cats and returning them to the residence so the hoarder can still find comfort by being around cats, but at least now we know they are fixed and controlling the stray population. For the inside we pulled everything young and sickly by offering vet services and adoptions. The hoarder was not as attached to the young felines. We hope to get pictures of adoptions or rescues to further build trust as the hoarder's main concern is that we will euthanize all of the felines. As of right now we are working together as the hoarder was informed that as soon as that stops we will have a warrant to confiscate all of the felines and we will get one as it is a public health issue and due to the age of the hoarder social services will get involved as well. Every week we go and pick up another five cats from the inside and daily we TNR and by seeing that we do bring the cats back we are gaining trust. We are also working with a church group to come in and clean the house once we get more cats out. Follow up is key to ensure cats are not being added and that the health of the cats currently in the situation is being maintained. In previous cases the biggest concern I have found is hoarders cannot mentally accept not having anything, they can handle a decrease, but the thought of losing all the animals shuts them down.