Being a pet collector in no way compares to someone who safely donates a large amount of blood over the years.
Ailurophilia Run Amok
By Franny Syufy, About.com
See More About:"150 diseased, 250 frozen cats found in 2 homes"
The heading wasn't particularly large, and the short article was buried well within the newspaper, but the shock and horror of the grisly content was gut-wrenching to cat lovers.
A 56 year old Piedmont, CA woman and her son may have been responsible for the deaths of at least 394 cats, under the guise of "loving animals". The 150 live cats were found in deplorable conditions. One litter box was provided for them. I leave the rest to your imagination. Most of the cats had upper respitory infections and suffered from diarrhea. Some suffered from leukemia, others were carrying unborn litters. Of the 150 live cats, six were saved. The remainder were destroyed by the local SPCA.
When questioned about storing dead cats in their freezer, they replied that they like cats. The woman, when questioned by a newspaper reporter, said, "We just loved our animals, that's all. I'd rather not say anything, if you don't mind." Police ran psychological tests on the pair and they were found to be "competent."
This anomaly is not as rare as one might think. In another case in California, a woman was found living in a dilapidated house with 47 cats, several dogs, sheep, and other farm animals. These cats were luckier than those in the first story. Only three had to be euthanized; the rest were released to cat rescue groups.
This unfortunate kind of story repeats itself all over the world, but the U.S. seems to be very susceptible to animal collecting cases. Hardly a day goes by that I don't see newspaper articles from all over the country detailing cases involving cat and dog collectors aka "hoarders," many involving otherwise "normal" people from all walks of life. "Casual collectors" seem to suffer some pathological quirk that allows them to take on more than they can handle, resulting in masses of ill-fed, unaltered, sick cats living in squalid conditions.
One wonders how such pathetic situations could remain hidden for such long periods of time. The Piedmont case came to light only when a friend came to visit an elderly woman who had been living in one of the homes. It seems impossible that neighbors could not have noticed something amiss. I can't help but think that it falls under the "not wanting to be involved" syndrome.
Animal Rescuers Are Particularly Vunerable to Collecting
Even people involved in legitimate animal rescue are at risk. Sometimes, in their zeal to rescue "just one or two more cats" an invisible line is crossed and a rescuer finds, too late, that he or she has taken on more cats than can be reasonably housed, fed, and vetted. The "collecting" phase can result from several factors which are almost always interrelated:
- Physical Illness
Illness can quickly strike any of us. A formerly robust rescuer may suddenly find that she is physically incapable of scooping and cleaning litter boxes, toting heavy bags of cat food, freshening and filling water and food bowls regularly, and hauling cats to the vet clinic when they become sick. Depression often is the result, which may lead to the next phase of collecting:
- Mental Illness
Mental illness related to cat hoarding can form a vicious circle. Many mentally ill people are drawn to cats. Indeed, cats are used more and more as therapy animals, because of their unique ability to calm and relax. With some forms of mental illness, a person may become unable to distinguish between quantity of cats and the quality of life one is able to give them. A rescuer may be driven to save more and more cats, and loses the ability to say "I've saved enough" and stop before crossing that invisible line between rescue and hoarding.
- Financial Reversal
A lost job or overwhelming emergency veterinary expenses can toll disaster for a cat rescuer working alone. Savings are quickly depleted, credit cards are maxed, and relatives and friends soon tire of requests for loans. After the victim has sold everything available in garage sales or on eBay, he or she and the cats are quickly limited to the very basics in terms of daily survival: shelter, the cheapest foods available, and water.
- Loss of Support
Death or divorce may leave a rescuer without the necessary physical, emotional, and/or financial support of someone to help with the day-to-day maintenance of rescued cats. Likewise, for one reason or another, the source of foster homes or other outlets for rehoming cats may become unavailable. As a result, additional rescues may tax an already-growing lack of space and resources. http://www.jehovahs-witness.net/social/current/181244/1/Taking-the-blood-donor-thing-just-a-little-too-far