How to Care for a Cat Rescued from a Hoarder

Not every person that owns multiple cats is a “Hoarder” however there is such a thing as owning too many pets. If a person owns more pets than he or she has the ability to care for, than they may, in fact, be an “animal hoarder”. Having a cat can be a great thing. They can comfort a person and provide companionship. You can have as many pets as you want as long as you take good care of them.

As an animal owner should feed your pets well, groom them, and give them sufficient space to grow and exercise. You should housetrain or train to use a litterbox your pet as well. However, not all pet owners take this responsibility seriously. We have heard and seen people acquiring as many pets as they could yet fail to adequately care for them. This is animal hoarding.

 

What is animal hoarding?

Most animal hoarders are socially isolated individuals who believe that they are helping their animals and deny their inability to provide them with minimum care. This causes the animals to suffer immensely. The animal hoarder is unable to provide even the minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter, and veterinary care. This often results in animal starvation, illness, and death. In some cases losing one of their pets is cause for acquiring even more animals.

There is an interesting book about animal hoarders on Amazon here

 

There are many signs of “animal Hoarding” and if an individual is an animal hoarder or not.

  • They are not able to tell you how many animals are under their care.
  • The condition of their homes is bad with broken furniture, dirty windows, extreme clutter, holes in walls and the floor, etc.
  • The floor of the home is covered with dried feces, urine, vomit, etc. and there is a strong smell of ammonia.
  • The animals in the hoarder’s care are emaciated, lethargic, and not well-socialized.
  • There are fleas and rats all over the place.
  • The person himself is isolated from the community and looks miserable himself.
  • Even when there is a clear sign of illness, the hoarder will insist that all his animals are happy and healthy
  • They firmly believe that what they are doing is helping animals.
  • They are blind to the fact that their animals are suffering under their care.
  • One thing in common among all hoarders, whether male or female or elderly people, is that they fail to grasp the severity of their situation.

 

How to care for a cat rescued from a hoarder 4

Why do people hoard animals?

It is difficult to determine the real reason behind this hoarding behavior. Some say that it is another form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yet other studies say that this attachment disorder has something to do with a personality disorder. Some say its paranoia, depression, delusional thinking or other mental illnesses.

Some individuals who experienced a traumatic event or loss have ended up being animal hoarders. But some hoard because they find themselves playing the role of rescuers of animals that they don’t want living on the streets. In most cases, the person is mentally ill, and you should remember that. They aren’t always hurting their pets on purpose. They need professional help and may not have the means to get help themselves.

 

How many animals are too many in hoarding situations?

The number of animals in a home is not an issue. What matters in deciding if there is an animal hoarding situation is the condition of the animals in the home. Are they well-groomed? Well-fed? Do they have sufficient space to grow and exercise? Are they housetrained or litter-box trained? Every year in the United States, approximately a quarter of a million animals fall victim to hoarding. Animal hoarders will collect a wide range of pets, from cats and dogs to reptiles, birds, rodents, exotic pets, and even farm animals.

The mindset of an animal hoarder is that he keeps the animals so that they don’t end up in an animal shelter or kill shelters. However, the situation in a hoarder’s home gets out of control and soon enough the quality of the lives of the animals is compromised and many become sick, injured and eventually die.

In the homes of these animal hoarders, there are a lot of biohazards such as feces, urine, vomit, and other bodily fluids that can spread disease throughout the home. Insects and rodents are also attracted to the property and they, too, carry diseases and compromise the structural integrity of the property since they use wood, carpet, padding, and metal to build their nests and consume as food.

 

Characteristics of Cats That Were Owned by a Hoarder

Cats from a hoarding situation find themselves living their lives with other cats away from contact with people. This is why when they are rescued from the situation and have to face people and a new situation, they can be very fearful and want to run and hide. These cats are also not used to a litter box or a carrier.

She may struggle to get out if placed inside a carrier. Most often, a hoarding cat is placed in a carrier only on the day she was taken from her home and during her time at the shelter.

Hoarding cats can never be a lap cat. She does not enjoy being picked up and held. Hoarding cats are not used to being handled and so they struggle when they are picked up and they avoid sitting in laps.

If there are other cats in your home, she may do well, although there is no guarantee she will get along with a new cat. Since the cat has lived most of its life in a hoarding situation where they spent their entire lives around cats, they would normally prefer the company of cats. But some cats are victims of catfights and would do better in a home alone without another cat. Also, some diseases can be spread from catfights so be sure to have your cat checked out by your veterinarian. If you cannot afford a vet then you should know that there are places that will treat your animal at a greatly discounted cost to you. Just google low-cost animal care. or contact your local SPCA and they can tell you where to go.

 

How to care for a cat rescued from a hoarder 1

 

How Hoarding Can Affect a Cat’s Health

The health of a cat is greatly affected in a hoarding situation. When a cat is exposed to unsanitary bedding or flooring for long periods, she can start to develop skin problems.

The cat can also experience infectious and parasitic diseases brought about by exposure to accumulated fecal materials and rotting food. The disease can easily spread due to the proximity of a large number of cats. And the presence of insects and rats facilitates the spread of infectious diseases.

Dehydration is caused by a lack of potable water. Chronic malnutrition and even starvation are the results of insufficient food supply. This situation creates the conditions for other health problems since their immune function is impaired and because of deficient dietary protein, wound healing would be slow.

Physical injury from aggressive encounters between stressed cats is increased because of inadequate, overcrowded housing. And the situation is aggravated when the cats have to compete for limited food.

Contamination in homes with too many animals

Other physical problems in cats are also caused by poor air quality. Ammonia gas is ever-present in hoarding homes and ammonia levels may be dangerously high. Inhaling ammonia fast can irritate the entire respiratory tract of a cat. Ammonia gas stresses cats and it affects their appetite and weight gain. Other than insufficient food, the subnormal weight in hoarded cats can be caused by inhaling ammonia gas. Aside from ammonia, other contaminants in the hoarding environment can harm the cats.

Hoarding cats are not given veterinary care. This is why even if the condition they have is treatable, it persists and processes to advanced diseases that can put the animal’s life at risk. With the lack of veterinary care, cats are at risk of infectious and parasitic diseases. This results in a population of cats that are more susceptible to contracting and spreading such diseases.

 

Being a hoarded cat can lead to severe illness or death

Cats are brought to the brink of death because of the damage to their physical well-being which is often very severe. When rescued from hoarding homes, many cats were unable to even lift their heads because they were too weak. Some cats were too sick to move and others to emaciated to stand. These cats have given up the fight to live and are simply waiting for the inevitable.

Viral infectious disease is also very prevalent among hoarded cats. Most cats experience feline leukemia virus and viral upper respiratory infections. Hoarded cats also experience skin diseases and are very contagious. Also common are parasitic infections which include both internal and external parasites. Skin inflammation caused by external parasites can be the source of extreme suffering.

Cats can get infections from neglect

It is also common for hoarded cats to have an eye infection. They can have a very severe eye infection that their eyelids are glued closed. These cats are rendered blind in either one or both eyes. It is also common for hoarded cats to have oral disease. Dental disease causes hoarded cats to lose many or all of their teeth.

Lack of proper grooming

Extreme matting of haircoats is a result of failure to provide routine care. Matting of haircoats can lead to many physical problems. Matted hair can pull against the skin. When the matted hair is over the eyes, it can cause loss of vision or eye infection. Matted- haircoat over the urinary and anal orifices can cause painful elimination or the inability to pass urine or feces. Skin inflammation and urine burns are caused when matting incorporates with feces and urine.

Neglect can lead to all sorts of health issues for cats

Inadequate routine care can also bring about ingrown collars and severely overgrown and embedded nails. Prolonged exposure to unsanitary bedding or flooring can lead to conditions such as urine scald or infection of the skin, feet, and toenails.

Hoarded cats can also suffer abscesses, wounds, injuries, open sores and scars. It is not known what causes all these conditions but usually, there is fighting between cats so it is the likely cause for the wounds and abscesses. Swellings and tumors can also result from inadequate monitoring of health.

 

Adopting a Hoarded Cat (or How to Help a Cat Rescued from a Hoarder)

When a hoarded cat is rescued, it can be that they can adjust well to life outside the hoarding home. Hoarded cats can be as adorable as any other cat and sometimes more so. ^here are some incredible cats that have easily been adopted after the rescue. These cats have shown the ability to endure, have shown much grace and gratitude as to have survived the ordeal without much harm done to their person.

A rescued cat may need patience

However, most hoarded cats have an issue with shyness, fear, and anxiety since they are under socialized. When faced with humans, they slink to the back of the cage. They try to hide. They don’t make any efforts at all to engage with humans. And these cats are hard to adopt. It will take a very patient person to consider adopting a cat who may hide under a couch for weeks. However, all cats eventually turn around with a little effort and a lot of love. Although they may not sit on your lap or snuggle with you, every cat deserves a second chance.

Long term recovery for hoarded cats

Rehab of hoarded cats can either be a complete success or a complete failure. When the cat shows full recovery and demonstrates no signs of having endured any adversity, then you have complete success. However, there can be cats that can never heal emotionally and cannot live in comfort around human beings.

Many are unable to overcome the fear of human beings due to the lack of human socialization during their early life. This fear is expressed in their avoidance and hiding from humans. Other behavioral issues such as litter-box training of cats, can in many but not all cases are improved or fully resolved.

Animal hoarding is a very large problem that unfortunately very few people recognize as an important community concern and even fewer people study. Nonetheless, animal hoarding continues to affect hundreds of local communities each year across the United States and causes untold suffering to many
thousands of animals. According to the government an “animal hoarder” has been defined as an individual who accumulates a large number of animals, but who fails to provide the animals with adequate food, water, sanitation, and veterinary care, and who is in denial about this inability to provide adequate care.

 

Create a Home Environment Where the Cat Will Feel Comfortable, Happy, and Relaxed

  • Give your cat a small place somewhere in your house. You need to give her everything that she will need including food, water, a bed, a litter box, and toys. Make sure to visit her several times in a day, giving her high-value treats and trying to play with her.
  • Once the cat is more comfortable, it is time to let her out into the rest of your house. You should let your car move around your house. She doesn’t have to walk on the floor. Make sure that you don’t put your cat in a situation where she will be cornered by anyone in your household. This can cause great stress to your cat.
  • Make sure that the cat can perch on something in every room that you frequent. Try to figure out what your cat likes. Some cats like to hide and some want to be out in the open. Some want to hang out up high while others simply want to be close on the ground. Find that place where she would want to perch whenever you are in a certain room.
  • If you have a busy and noisy household, make sure that she can find a refuge, a quiet place where she can be comfortable. She can escape to this quiet place if she gets overwhelmed with the noise being created by the people around her. It can be comfortable to have this place since, in the hoarding situation, she didn’t have interaction with anyone.
  • If you have other pets in the house, make sure that it does not lead to any conflicts with the cat. Or if you have small children, ensure that they don’t harass your cat. This can help make your cat relaxed in your home.
  • When there are people or when there are loud noises, most hoarding cats will be quick to run and hide due to a lack of socialization. You can help your cat work through her fear and recover quickly. The best way to help her is by using positive reinforcement training technique. The cat will progress at its own pace. If the cat offered eye contact, moved forward, or touched their nose to your hand, mark the behavior with a clicker and give her a high-value treat because behaviors that are reinforced are more likely to be repeated than those that are not.

 

Make Your New Cat Accustomed to You and Eventually Associate You with Good Things

Take time to talk to your cat. Get your cat used to your making noise without harming her. This is a huge first step. Stay in the room where your cat is and read aloud so that she can get used to the sound of your voice. You should gradually raise your voice when you feel like your cat is comfortable with listening to you. Don’t rush things. You could do my harm than good if you aren’t patient with your new friend.

Cats have their body language. Ensure that you understand and respond to this. Lashing her tail when she gets overstimulated while getting petted is one of the body languages you need to learn. The tail lashing means that she wants you to stop what you are doing because she has had enough. Respecting her signals will make her feel better in the future. Then she won’t associate petting with being overstimulated and uncomfortable.

Make sure that you have a consistent daily routine with her feeding and playtime. This will help prevent anxiety in the cat because she knows that she will have the things she needs.

Do not punish bad behaviors. The reason for this is that the cat will associate the punishment with you and not with bad behavior.

Establish regular playtimes and give interactive toys.

Never force your cat to accept your affection. She can feel threatened if you insist on touching her in her space. Just offer your hand to pet her but don’t invade her territory. If the cat doesn’t want your affection, she will just stare at you. You can then try again at another time. But if she looks at you and raises her tail, then that is a good sign that she would be receptive to attention. Raising the tail is a friendly welcome sign among cats.

Never force your cat to spend time with her new family or new people. Allow her the chance to approach and enforce her for interacting with people.

Get down on her level. Your size is comparatively bigger than her size and so it can scare her. What you can do is to lie down on the floor or give her perches at your eye level. Then you become less scary and will give your cat more confidence.

Never chase your cat. If you need to medicate your cat or put her in a carrier, do not try to catch her by chasing her around the house. Simply wait until she has settled somewhere. Perhaps she will settle on her bed and then approach her slowly.

If you are to care for a rescued hoarded cat, it takes calmness and patience to succeed. If you act calm and don’t push your cat or force things on her, then you can easily win her love. This does take time, though.

 

What to Do If Your Suspect Animal Hoarding

While animal hoarders think that their intentions are good, the reality is that they do immeasurable harm to animals. You might see animals in hoarding situations to be in good health and coping well, yet you need to take into context the environment and the duration of the neglect. Suffering is magnified when multiple animals are kept together in a dirty and crowded place. They need to fight for food and they are exposed to contagious diseases.

As an animal lover and a human being with compassion, we are bound ethically to report cases of animal hoarding to the proper authorities. There are agencies in every community that is working for the sake of these animals. However, you might not be able to know which agency to report the hoarding situation.

You should first contact a local animal welfare agency. The agency should have the legal power to investigate animal cruelty complaints and enforce anti-cruelty laws. These animal welfare groups are experts when it comes to these situations. If they have appropriate jurisdiction, they will intervene, based on the authority given to them through the animal cruelty laws in their state.

You can contact other law enforcement agencies if the community’s animal welfare agencies have no proper jurisdiction for handling hoarding situations. The law enforcement agencies include the local police, state police, sheriffs, district attorneys, or local prosecutors. Compulsive hoarding, which is often associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is a complex mental illness that affects about 4% of the U.S. population.

What are the other things that you can do to help? You can help animal welfare groups like the ASPCA or local animal welfare groups in your area. Volunteers and donations are needed by these organizations. If you have the means, adopt a pet or pets. Just make sure that they are spayed or neutered. And if and when you see animal abuse, report it immediately to the concerned authorities. Make sure to educate yourself on the issue of animal hoarding.

 

You can report animal abuse by contacting your local ASPCA or Police.

How to Report Animal Cruelty

Try to gather as much information or proof that you can before submitting a report of animal cruelty:

  1. Provide a written statement that is factually and not exaggerated giving dates and approximate times you witnessed abuse or neglect.
  2. If possible get photographs of the location and the animals being abused. Also, take pictures of the surrounding area or neighborhood. Do not put yourself in danger or enter someone’s property without permission.
  3. Be careful around unknown animals. Some abused animals may look docile but will bite and could spread sicknesses to humans such as rabies.
  4. Try and provide names and contact information of other people who have witnessed the animal abuse you are reporting.
  5. It is possible to file a report anonymously but please consider using your real name. The report will be taken much more seriously if it is done by a named person or persons. Authorities are more likely to investigate reports of animal abuse if credible witnesses will stand behind the report, and if necessary they can appear in court and testify.

 

What is Animal Hoarding?

How to care for a cat rescued from a hoarder 2

When an individual has more animals in his home than he can adequately care for, then this is animal hoarding. It is a behavior that is difficult to understand. A person collects animals because of a compulsive need. He intends to take care of them yet it results in neglect and abuse. If you have ever seen one of those hoarders shows on TV it is a similar situation, except the biggest difference in hoarding objects and hoarding pets is the animals can be seriously hurt. Whether directly or indirectly through neglect and even sometimes abuse.

Why do people hoard animals?

How to care for a cat rescued from a hoarder 1

It is difficult to determine the real reason behind this hoarding behavior. Some say that it is another form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yet other studies say that this attachment disorder has something to do with a personality disorder. Some say its paranoia, depression, delusional thinking or other mental illnesses.

How many cats are too many?

How to Take Care of A Cat With Worms 6

The number of cats in a home is not an issue. What matters in deciding if there is an animal hoarding situation is the condition of the animals in the home. Are they well-groomed? Well-fed? Do they have sufficient space to grow and exercise? Are they housetrained or litter-box trained? Every year in the United States, approximately a quarter of a million animals fall victim to hoarding. Animal hoarders will collect a wide range of pets, from cats and dogs to reptiles, birds, rodents, exotic pets, and even farm animals.

How Can Hoarding Affect a Cat’s Health?

cat litter box

The health of a cat is greatly affected in a hoarding situation. When a cat is exposed to unsanitary bedding or flooring for long periods, she can start to develop skin problems. The cat can also experience infectious and parasitic diseases brought about by exposure to accumulated fecal materials and rotting food. The disease can easily spread due to the proximity of a large number of cats. And the presence of insects and rats facilitates the spread of infectious diseases.