A cat hoarder keeps far more than a reasonable number of companion cats. Is unable to ensure the cats receive good, or even minimal nutrition, adequate shelter and sanitation, and does not ensure the animals receive all necessary veterinary care.
A cat lover has no more pets than they are able to care for.
The answer to that question is more cats than you can properly cope with are too many cats.
Three cats would be too many if you couldn't properly feed them, care for them and afford their veterinary bills.
On the other hand two dozen cats may not be too many if you have the necessary finance, adequate time to care for them and ample space for them.
For most of us a limit on our finances, time and space, means being able to only suitably care for a very limited number of cats. We know what the extra responsibilities of caring for even just one more cat would mean.
If a homeless stray presents itself at our door we may pity the poor animal, but we know that if we are not in the position to give it the care that it needs, then it would not be a kindness to take it in.
Far better to take the cat to a shelter.
A cat hoarder though, would accommodate the stray regardless of how many cats they already have and regardless of their inability to provide an acceptable standard of care.
They would simply not be able to stop themselves.
After all it is their belief that nobody could look after the animal like they will.
Maybe someone the hoarder knows has a cat that has presented a litter of kittens.
The friend realizes they cannot look after the litter, and knows that the cat hoarder will not need persuading to take in a kitten, or perhaps take in the whole litter.
For those that practice cat hoarding there is only one thing of importance - the poor cat needs a home.
They do not consider that they cannot afford veterinary bills, or even off the shelf pet medications.
They do not stop to think that it will be yet another feline mouth to feed, they do not worry about space for the poor creature in their home that is already crowded out with cats.
Many of the cats that hoarders take in are suffering from conditions that require treatment from a veterinarian.
The cat collector is unlikely to get medical attention for the sick cat however. For one reason, they are convinced that they are the best person to nurse the animal and secondly they are unlikely to be able to afford a vet anyway.
The result is that many of their cats do not recover and pass away, but not before infecting other cats in the hoarder’s home.
The feline population keeps on increasing, but that is not only because the hoarder takes in more and more strays.
An awful lot of the strays are not spayed or neutered, and cats beget kittens who soon grow into cats who themselves beget kittens.
Does the hoarder have their cats neutered? That’s not at all likely.
With cats being brought into the home and kittens being born in the home, it is not long before there are an unbelievable number of felines living in squalor and misery.
Perhaps that question would be best answered by psychiatrists. It would seem that most animal hoarders are driven by a need, a kind of obsession.
They believe they are doing the right thing, they cannot grasp that keeping far more cats than they can possibly care for is doing the cats more harm than good.
Often lonely individuals lacking social skills, cat collectors do not enjoy much in the way of human company. With their home smelling strongly of cat urine, perhaps with cat waste littering the floor and an unmanageable hoard of ill kept felines, they are not likely to have visitors.
And so they become ever more isolated.
To compensate for their isolation and to give their life a purpose, they take in even more strays and become trapped in a vicious circle. This site gives an in depth view of the characteristics of a cat hoarder - Animal Hoarding (HARC)
When we hear the term “cat hoarder” perhaps the Crazy Cat lady springs to mind, while it is true that statistically it is slightly more frequent in middle age to older females, many hoarders are males or younger women.
Hoarding is also not restricted to any one social economic group.
Cats and other animals have been hoarded in trailer homes, cramped one bedroom rented apartments, high-rise blocks, sprawling ranch houses and on millionaires row.
Usually the cat collector’s home ends up severely ruined, and of course unsanitary. Many need extensive renovation after the cats have been taken away and some are in such a bad state they are demolished.
Those that are obsessed with cat hoarding are to be pitied rather than despised. But the practice does cause problems.
It is of course a problem for the poor hoarded cats, they are not helped at all by living in squalid conditions, being ill fed and undernourished and suffering from many serious medical disorders.
The hoarders health deteriorates, not only mentally but also physically. It can be a problem too for both those that live nearby to hoarders and the local services.
Is there anything we do to ease the problem?
Well if there were not so many unwanted cats at large then the hoarders could not take them in.
The reason that there are so many unwanted strays is, of course, that some of us are not responsible enough to get our cats neutered.
No it is not a question of whether you have four cats, six cats, or even more if it is within your capabilities to love and care for them. It is a question of knowing the limits of your circumstances.
Unfortunately the poor cat hoarder does not know their limit and tries to look after more cats than they are capable of, which results in misery and often tragedy for the cats.
Each cat is an individual and each and every one will have a different reaction to the hoarding experience.
Many will be sick and in need of extensive veterinary care, sadly some may be beyond help. They are not likely to have had much human attention and so will be poorly socialized, they may require a lot of patience and even the help of someone with specialized training before they are able to fit in.
Having lived in an environment where they have had to compete with many other cats for meager food rations, a rescue from a cat hoarder may have dietary problems and habitually bolt their food down.
Happily many of these cats can be successfully re-homed and enjoy a good life in a home that is not crowded out with too many other felines.
A version of this article first appeared in Feline RulesBest Cat Art > Cat Articles > Cat Hoarder