Copyright 2000-2014, Sarah Hartwell

The Hoarder's Mind - The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Every town contains cat-hating sadists ... and the police and authorities either don't care enough to do anything or the perpetrators get off lightly. There are psychopaths who go out looking for cats to kidnap, torture and kill. Some of them adopt kitties from "free to good home" notices. The cat shelters are always too busy and too full and there is a long waiting list. If they can't find a cat's owner in 3 days they kill it. The most they hold a cat for is 30 days and if it doesn't get a home they kill it or hand it over to a laboratory to be vivisected. So you're going to rescue those cats from being killed, but you have sensible rules so you don't get overwhelmed:

If you're a sensible rescuer, you stick to those rules, but the hoarder is soon seeking out local strays, even the wild ones that freak out in captivity before getting depressed. But you're save them from psychopaths and from the pest-control round-ups and there's no 30 day limit on their lives. Soon, other people are bring unwanted cats to you because you are a no-kill "rescue". You ought to find homes for some of the cats, but you're certain that would-be adopters are cat-hating sadists in disguise. How can you be sure someone else will care for "your" cats as well as you can? It;s safer to keep them - after all, they've settled in.

A few weeks later, you find kittens in the house. You must have missed a neutering appointment, but it's only one litter isn't it? Except you've let in quite a few unneutered cats (by now you're not sure how many you have) and with all the offspring it's getting to be a case of one litter tray between five (you plan to fix that later of course) and the trays seem to fill up so quickly and you don't have time to clean them today ....

When you find time to clean the litter trays, you find an emaciated cat dead in one of them. Probably just old age, after all you are giving them plenty of food, albeit the cheap stuff. You're pretty sure you fed them this morning, or was it yesterday morning? With so many plates piled up it's hard to be sure. You really should catch up on dish-washing - maggots seem to hatch so fast right now. ...thinking of maggots, what to do about that dead cat? There's no room in the yard - it is stacked with crates and hutches of those FIV/FeLV cats you couldn't bear to have put down - so you'll have to store the body until you can take it to a crematorium. Even better, store several as mass cremations are cheaper. Soon your freezer is full of cats and you're scared to go to the crematorium in case they ask where you got so many dead cats.

With so many cats, you can't keep up with housework or laundry. You hardly know where to start and you don't notice the smell any more. The washing machine broke but you can't afford to get it fixed. Soon you are living in one room of the house as the cats need the rest of it. You try to get to every room of cats and to the ones in the back yard crates, but sometimes you don't manage it. Did you remember to feed the ones in the conservatory? Never mind, they can cope till tomorrow. You'll feed them and clean the litter trays out tomorrow. Except you can no longer keep up with cleaning out the litter trays or feeding the cats. When did you last put water in the crates in the yard? You hardly dare look. At least they are not being tortured by cat-hating sadists.

Eventually the neighbours complain so much that the local authorities come to take all the cats you've rescued - and their kittens. The council evict you for squalor and tell you that your house is unsafe. Surely it's not that bad, after all, you never noticed the smell. The SPCA find your freezer full of dead cats and there are crates of starved-to-death cats in the yard. You must have accidentally shut the door of one room, because there are mummified cats in there. The SPCA tells you that all your indoor cats are too sick to be saved.

In your mind, you saved those cats from sadists and cared for them, and now they are all being taken away and killed! You don't think to yourself "It somehow got out of hand." You think "I didn't do anything to harm cats. I rescued them. My neighbours are responsible for killing my cats. Next time I'll find a house without any neighbours."

And that is how many hoarders become reclusive and their cats continue to suffer neglect at those hoarders' hands.

Cat Hoarders & How to identify Them
Cat Hoarders - Cost to the Community and SPCAs