Hoarding Cats – Neighborhood Reality

Hoarding Cats - Neighborhood Realty

Hoarding:  A person who has a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A hoarder accumulates an excessive amount of items, regardless of their sentimental or monetary value.

The word “hoarder” makes me itch. The idea of hoarding makes me queasy. I don’t even like plates with too much food. Maybe I lived with a hoarder in a past life. Or maybe my sweet mom spoiled me with a clutter-free childhood, ironed sheets, and dusted closet shelves. Whatever, I never planned for my path to cross a hoarder’s, especially one who hoarded cats.

The other night, I drove past a house on my block and came to a screeching halt. Lounging on the lawn of a house in foreclosure were at least 50 black cats. I pulled over and got out of my car. The cats covered the house’s front and back yard and were coming out of a hole in the side of the house. The smell was overwhelming.

Neighbors began to gather. I learned the crazy cat man who had lived in the house slept in it as long as he could and then moved to his car in front of the house. He continued to bring food and water to the cats. The cats began to appear outside the house when workmen, who showed up briefly, put a hole in the side of the house. A cat door of sorts allowed the cats to come in and out of the house; neighbors repeatedly reported the smell to animal control. The picture above was taken in very poor lightening and only represents a few of the cats. There are well over 100 with about 35 trapped and rehomed. 

Bank of America has been foreclosing on the cat house for over a year. Technically, this kind of problem falls under the jurisdiction of animal control. But they are slow to act without the knowledge of the foreclosing bank. This is complicated by the fact that it is next to impossible to find the foreclosure officer on a piece of property. Our local shelter’s PAWS and Treehouse, to name a few, work best alongside animal control. After animal control traps the cats, they determine if they are healthy enough to move on to a shelter and be placed for adoption. It’s a matter of everyone working together—quickly, which has been the biggest problem. While bureaucracy has dawdled, cats were having kittens, and the problem was growing.

We’ve become a neighborhood of cat advocates. Bank of America is going to court regarding the foreclosure on Monday (August 10). Their goal is to board up the house on Tuesday—cats or no cats. The people at Treehouse are heading to court to slow down the process so they can remove more cats. Animal control has promised to show up and do their part. Innovative neighbors brought the press to the house to draw attention to both the cats and the lack of early action taken to save them. A number of us have agreed to help trap the cats if they have a place to go after being trapped. My house is not that place.

Hoarders aren’t just a part of a reality show. It’s our neighborhood reality. We won’t save all the cats, but we will save some of them. Hoarding happens in all neighborhoods;across all socioeconomic groups.  We hope our neighborhood will bring awareness to the importance of acting swiftly when a case of animal hoarding has been identified. 

Support your local animals shelters and rescue groups. They do good work.

Odd Loves Company,

Hoarding Cats - Neighborhood Realty

Update 4pm: News crews have been at the cat house since 6:30 a.m. The alderman showed up along with the media. Animal control arrived around 11am. Both Paws and Treehouse are on hand to help trap.  

13 thoughts on “Hoarding Cats – Neighborhood Reality

    • Nancy, That is pretty much what I said the first time I saw 50 plus black cats on the front lawn and gangway. And then I said Holy Wow. Or something like that!

    • I think they would rally. Especially around animals or kids. People are crazy but I also think by and large they are kind and good. I only wish we had known about the problem when it was originally reported.
      Thanks. It does feel good to help cats move on to a much better life. Now, I hope they take a hard look at the larger picture and figure out how to intervene in pet hoarder cases much earlier.

  1. It’s refreshing to see neighbors banding together for the common good of defenseless animals. Sitting here wondering if my neighbors would rally. Why the rush now BOA? It’s only been a year of inactivity. Well done!

    • I think they would rally. Especially around animals or kids. People are crazy but I also think by and large they are kind and good. I only wish we had known about the problem when it was originally reported.
      Thanks. It does feel good to help cats move on to a much better life.

  2. That is terrible. If I lived closer I’d have to think about a pal for Harry. Glad the neighbors are helping out. How on earth does something like that happen.

    • It happens when swift action and investigation does not happen – at the time someone reports it because by that time it is critical. Hoarders can go undetected for a long time and are usually reclusive. They don’t see the problem and resource drain despite the obvious. Early intervention when pets are concerned is key. Because these animals are seldom spayed and neutered. I am pretty sure is a happy only cat.

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  4. What an awful situation! My brother and I tried to trap only ONE cat in a house once and it took days! (Plus a possum cage trap and a can of halibut.) I am awed by what the neighbors are attempting there.

    Bank of America ought to be helping–gratefully! If the Supreme Court has decreed that corporations are people, then the corporations ought to show it sometimes!

    • Bank of America absolutely holds some responsibility for keeping this house in foreclosure for almost 3 years. The problem is –it is almost impossible for a you or I type person to find out who the foreclosure agent is. They are seldom in the same city/state as the house and it is not a matter of record until after the foreclosure takes place. It’s a mess. And it ticks me off that one of the reasons this problem happened was the house was allowed to languish in limbo. Despite the efforts of next door neighbors.
      We have expert help with trapping and the cats are use to people feeding them. So food in a trap is the bait. They quickly covered and put in a quiet cool area to reduce stress. I imagine a a feral cat would be much harder!

  5. This is unspeakably sad. Sad for the disturbed hoarder. Sad for the poor kitties. Sad for the neighborhood.

    Good for you, trying to make a bad situation better any way you can! You’re going to update us, aren’t you??

    • For sure. Currently 110 cats have been trapped and placed. The house is being boarded up, today. They believe they have all the cats out of the house but will leave a small window open. It’s been complicated and intense. I’ll follow up with a full post soon –One that begins with—The major network reported told me it “It is hard to be accurate when we are live” and then he asked for a community selfie for the station facebook page. Color me incredulous.

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