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This is a VERY photo-heavy diary about a very recent cat hoarder rescue. Not only does this issue have social, psycological and economic implications, it clearly has political and legal implications.

Animal hoarding, whether cats, rats, dogs, birds, horses or other living creatures is a mental condition. It NEVER turns out well.

What you will see in the photos is absolute preventable neglect in the name of "love".  

I want to warn you upfront, these are VERY difficult photos to view.

But I ask you to do it anyway. Hiding from reality does little to change things and life isn't always happy.

Chances are, there is a hoarder on your list of family and friends, your church or other social group, or in your neighborhood. And they HAVE to be stopped.

In a nutshell, I was asked by a neighbor (BTW, for a second time) to intervene with a close friend who is a cat hoarder. One was in the community, the other about two hours away.

This selected description of hoarders comes from the esteemed

While their [hoarders] intentions may indeed have been honorable in the beginning, the reality of hoarding is far from sweet, and is often quite horrific. Hoarders often have hundreds of animals in their home, living in filth and without veterinary care. It is not uncommon to discover several hundred animals in various states of neglect at one location. It is also very common to find vast collections of other junk and garbage on the premises, as well as many layers of feces throughout the home.

In the majority of hoarding cases, the hoarder firmly believes not only that they have done nothing wrong, but that the animals cannot survive without their "care". In many instances, hoarders will even be reluctant to relinquish the decomposing corpses of animals that died. Dead animals are frequently found in the freezer or refrigerator, or even laying around the house, embedded in the carpeting, etc. At times, dead animals have been left in the home so long that they have become mummified.  [my insert]

The First Eight Kittens

These kittens, when they arrived on September 23 and driven directly to my veterinarian, were dismal beyond belief. Besides being filthy, sick, ear mite infested (I worked through 1000 cotton swabs in 48 hours) and extremely lethargic, their eyes were ravaged by feline herpes left untreated resulting in massive infection, perforated eyes, corneal edema, corneal ulcers and even resultant glaucoma (in a kitten!). And, these were the BEST of those to come. The second eight were MUCH worse.

Note:  you can click on each photo for more information (I hope).

Note: Dates on the photos are incorrect, operator error. All photos were taken at my veterinarian with the help of her staff (except those noted otherwise) between September 23 and October 14, 2009.

Here we go. Brace yourself.

Swiss on entry

Garganzola on entry

Mazarella on entry (photo taken at rescue, vet photo did not turn out)

Baby Bell on entry (photo taken at vet did not turn out. Kitten died 5 days after arrival under veterinary care).

The Second Eight Kittens

Note:  These kittens arrived late afternoon on Saturday, September 26. We cleaned them up, and started eye and oral medications that night.  These photos were all taken at the veterinarin on September 30.

Mercury (pupil detached and piercing the cornea)

Venus at the vet 10 14 09

Mars (if an eye, micropthalmic)

Jupiter (glaucoma w/ a loud IV/VI heart murmur)


Galaxy (note we cannot find the introductory photos, but we could not see one eye at all... not even sure it was there.  This kitten, we think, may NOW retain both eyes after treatment. Her left eye is still 'jury out' though.)
Galaxy FPSR use with permission

Black Hole (aka BH)
Black Hole

Comet,FPSR use with permission


Now, just for some relief, this is a cat, taken from a shelter and misdiagnosed as having URI-related eye problems, that HAD feline herpes. His eye was completely unviewable. His compounded eye meds were $104.00 for the tiniest bottle you can imagine.  This cat was in a collar for almost 10 weeks and given eye treatments up the wazoo.  And just LOOK at this cat... gorgeous. This is Smokey and this is what good treatment/care does. I normally foster medical cats for other rescues, and Smokey was one of these. Smokey is now in a wonderful home and doing just great, given L-Lysine daily for feline herpes.

The Hoarder Upshot

Five of the above, Mercury, Comet, Black Hole, Mars and Swiss are each having their one damaged eye removed (enucleation). These eyes came in unsavable, this is the only option. But the good part is that they will still have monocular vision and will be just fine as special needs kittens. Expensive, but necessary.

Two of the above, Venus and Mazarrela, MAY have to have both eyes removed. We are raising money now to have them both see an opthomologist. Our veterinarian believes they both may see something with whatever they have (the recent photos are a bit different). As their caretaker, I can vouch for that. Venus also has right-eye entropian (lashes or fur growing into the eye v. out) and, as if she needed more problems, it may be that her left eye lid is adhered to her cornea.

Galaxy is a bit of a surprise. The veterinarian couldn't even suss whether she had a right eye or not.  What the photo says is... she surely does and the question is, can we save it?  We sure think so!  This kitten was though to be at least a potential blind or one-eye'd kitten.  Looking WAY better in terms of hopes for sight now.

Jupiter is a sad case. This poor little girl has to have her right eye removed, but with the severe heart murmur, we are waiting to raise the money for her ultrasound and rather extreme veterinary care.


I'm both furious and grateful.

I've been at rescue a long time and I have seen a lot. But this one made me weep many times. This just didn't have to happen. Early treatment could have stopped all of this.

But, you see, the hoarder had WAY to many cats and kittens and while giving them shelter in a probable sweltering garage all summer in a very hot area, she also gave many death (she admitted to 'losing a lot of kittens').

As an experienced rescuer, I can tell you taking care of these kittens (and the five healthy-eyed kittens that came with them) and the seven unspayed/unneutered adults that also came with them, I am swamped, extremely tired, and furious with the hoarder.

It IS a full time job--actually far beyond that--to take proper care of these cats/kittens in addition to the healthy cats we have up for adoption. For many days, we lived on two hours of sleep. But the results (next post) are worth it. We are madly writing grants to cover the costs. It is like being in a row boat against the QE. The medication and food costs alone are sinking us.

Please, if you know anyone that is hoarding animals of ANY kind, contact a good local species-specific rescue and if you do not see immediate results, the local shelter.

Finally, I ask for your good thoughts and/or prayers. This has been very, very difficult for us, a small rescue, physically, emotionally and economically. When the day comes that we have to pursue charges, that will be even more difficult. But it has to be done and it has to be done right.

Thanks so much for reading. And would you do me a favor?  

If you have a cat, dog, bird, horse, rat, snake, gerbil whatever--and this includes your own children--PLEASE go right now and tell them how much you love them, hug them and vow to always do better.

If you are their caretaker/companion, remember always that term. YOU are their lifeline.

Be the lifeline.  BE the name of love.

And just as a reminder about what love can do (out of sinc, but GREAT sound, and aren't we all a bit out of sinc?). This is, in fact, the energy I work from or I couldn't do this work, topical or not. Those of you here that know me know exactly how I feel on these matters, political and not. I try to be kind but rarely mince words.


Originally posted to on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 11:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thank you for posting (13+ / 0-)

    and for your efforts in raising awareness and helping these cats..

    all the best for them and animals everywhere!

  •  You're doing the work of angels... (13+ / 0-)

    Our neighbor at our cabin was drifting toward hoarding when I finally had a talk with her.  She lived in a small cabin (800 sq. feet) with two kids in a rural mountain area.  She wasn't keeping all the cats in the house full time, but did have at least a dozen there and was feeding about 30, who spent most of their time on her porch and the rest of the time wandering at our cabin crapping everywhere and killing all the birds.  Since it was a rural area, people also allowed their dogs to roam and more than one cat/kitten had been killed by dogs.  I think raccoons also killed some kittens.

    Fortunately, she was receptive to doing something about it.  Part of her problem was that she had a chronic illness and was often overwhelmed by life and just couldn't bring herself to get the original two cats fixed.  We managed to trap all of them over the course of two weekends and brought them to the no-kill shelter in the area.  There were many kittens, but they were still sociable enough to be adopted.  Two of the females were pregnant and ultimately added more kittens to the total tally.  About a third of the cats tested positive for leukemia.  There were three cats that she and the kids loved best and wanted to keep, so I paid to have those ones fixed.

    I was fearful of talking to her (didn't want to seem rude/nosy/pushy) but I'm glad I got over the fear and spoke up.  It was the best thing for all of us - especially the cats.  Thanks for writing this and showing what can happen if we sit back in silence.

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 06:13:49 AM PDT

  •  Bless you, cany (10+ / 0-)

    for your heroic efforts on behalf of the cats and kittens, and for putting together this post to educate us all.  

    I've done just a tiny bit of rescue work, and can barely imagine how you can hold up, physically and emotionally, under the conditions and numbers of animals you're describing.  Sending all good thoughts and energy to you and those you’re working with, and of course to the cats and kittens too.

  •  You're one of my heroes, cany ♥♥ (8+ / 0-)
  •  Thank you and bless you for the work you (6+ / 0-)

    do for the animals.

    If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. James Herriot

    by Amber6541 on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 02:41:05 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for taking care of the pooties (6+ / 0-)

    * this space available *

    by JanF on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 02:58:50 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the work you do. (7+ / 0-)

    "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 04:01:23 PM PDT

  •  bless you and the pooties (8+ / 0-)

    Lotus Kitteh

    this nation cannot survive the continued acceptance, the continued endorsement, the continued encouragement, the continued institutionalization... of stupidity

    by phillygirl64 on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 05:54:43 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts. I (11+ / 0-)

    do not really have much time, most days, between care/vet visits and the occasional surprise (as in two visits in one day to the vet), and seeking help on the telephone and in writing grants, to post.

    I so appreciate your thoughts.

    lineatus... you are on the Hero List.  You did exactly the right thing and I thank you so much for your time, money and care in taking care of this.

    We DID get great news today.  Best Friends (Utah) has granted us $1K!  While that won't even begin to cover the costs so far, it is surely a great start!  We are so very grateful.

    I ask a favor, if you will:  Please thank Best Friends for helping us (our app was under Helping Persian Cats)--the Sylmar/Lancaster CA cats) in this situation.  And if you have never been there, it is the BEST reason EVER to visit Utah.  The Sanctuary and the work they do (as in Katrina--they were one of the few groups that didn't cut and run when the cameras were gone) is stellar and legendary.  AND you can work at the sanctuary as a volunteer if you want to go and do that!

    We also learned tonight (about ten minutes ago) that Petco has given us an emergency grant.  This is incredible.  Our food and litter costs, as you can imagine, are out the roof! We go through at least a case (now almost a case and a half) of high quality kitten food/day, and a bit less for the adults.  This is EXTREMELY expensive, as you can imagine.  No cat or kitten (especially not a kitten, let alone a very sick kitten) should eat pizza, and I have made sure they haven't.  They get the best we can find, and it shows in their health and coats.

    We also got some help on the upcoming 24 spays/neuters, but are hoping for more help there.

    Not much luck yet with finding an opthomologist, but tomorrow, THAT is my focus. I am determined to save any eye we can.  Sight is a wonderful thing, and cats are such sight-oriented animals.

    We are also seeking donations of 48 doses of Advantage Multi (they have already been given one), 48 fvrcpc vaccinations and 24 rabies vaccinations (the cat spay and neuter clinic requires this now, which they did not used to do.  Did you know, BTW, that the majority of cat/dog rabies/human infections are from cats, not dogs?  True story.)

    I am thrilled beyond words to have the donations and help we are getting, but we have so far to go!  But this is just fuel for the fire for me.  We WILL get this done... somehow!

    Thanks so much to you all!

    866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it!

    by cany on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 07:47:48 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for sharing this information. (8+ / 0-)

    BTW, I hope you don't mind, but I tweaked your tags to fix the spelling for "ophthalmology".

    "It's not enough to be right. You still have to use your nice voice." -said by my then six-year-old daughter; "Love binds us all."-willb48

    by be the change you seek on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 09:06:01 PM PDT

  •  We have a hoarder in town. (8+ / 0-)

    She's a nightmare.  

    Sometimes there are no good solutions.  The town council doesn't have a relationship with a shelter, so there is nowhere that will accept stray animals from here.  We have an ordinance, but it is not enforced.  We are the kind of place that people dump unwanted animals, but there is no infrastructure to take care of them.  They are less than 3/5ths of a person, maybe less than 1/5--a lot less.  

    •  where are you? nt (8+ / 0-)

      866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it!

      by cany on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 09:14:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not near any "wealthy communities" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In northeast Iowa.  

        The shelters are overflowing.  The ones in the nearest cities will not take animals from here, except that one of them will take an animal that has gotten away from the hoarder because they hate her guts and her animals are usually in desperate shape. Our state legislator is trying to get a bill passed to put people like her out of business.  (She also sells puppies out of the Cabela's parking lot and other places.)

        The zoning here will not allow someone to start up a rescue if they wanted to, and the town is fewer than 500 people. The council made it illegal to own more than five animals but did not provide for buying shelter space.  They can't afford to.

        I have taken in two stray dogs and various cats over the years.  My vet bills are unreal.

        My vet is wonderful, but not in the business of taking in homeless animals.  He gets stuck with enough of them now, when people "board" them and don't come back.

        •  About mention of vet (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          2laneIA, lineatus

          Vets aren't supposed to take in homeless animals. Vets around here banded together and have spay and neuter days where they will spay and neuter all cats for free, for example.

          The idea was free/low cost spay and neuter: a preventative measure.

        •  A suggestion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Look through the funding sources mentioned in this diary, contact the shelters you know. Concerned citizens could bring a proposal to the city council for a SMALL nonprofit shelter: identified funding source, identified building on private property, no public funding, no more than 25 animals at a time.

          Talk to the city council ahead of time, identify their concerns, meet them.

          You will have to do a lot of triage, but every little bit helps.

          •  This is dreaming (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            in the context of rural Iowa.  I appreciate your efforts to be helpful, but this is not like living in California.  

            Concerned citizens here are more likely to take stray animals and shoot them.  It's cheaper.  I know hunters who routinely shoot feral cats when they're out hunting something else.  I'm not saying I approve of it;  it's just the way it is.

            I think the median income at the last census was $20k+ in this county.  We have a high rate of domestic abuse, which is related to poverty.  I have fed hungry children here, never mind animals. A plant in a nearby town shut down a year ago and people are still out of work.

            Our "city" of a few hundred souls has been hit with unexpected expenses that have it in a deficit.  I am on a city agency board that has no budget at all.  We raise money with raffles and donations to do small things.  Our volunteer fire department depends on the annual fireman's supper for funding.  Our county community foundation hands out grants for various causes, most of which are in the $2000 range.  This year there ere a lot of food banks and elder care applicants who are going to be ahead of stray cats in the line. It's just a different world from living on the coasts.

            The handful of people here who actually do the volunteer civic work have their hands full, as is true in many rural towns.  For the kind of effort you describe, you need many hours of volunteer time and committed people.

            I keep a dish of food outside on a windowsill and have a cat door in an outbuilding so they can get out of the cold.  That's the shelter.

    •  Is there a vet within driving distance? (6+ / 0-)

      Other concerned people? Someone with a fix upable barn or shelter? A more wealthy community within driving distance? there may be assets you have not considered.

      For example: the wealthy community may be horrified at what is going on on their doorstep, and help out with money and rescue efforts. Have small dogs? They are very easy to adopt out, especially if they are vaguely pedigreed in appearance.

      A concerned vet is worth his/her weight in gold. Trapping, spay and neuter will reduce the stray population.

      Good luck to you

  •  Bless you for being a rescuer. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, Ebby, wide eyed lib

    We have a lot of critters, but I don't think we'd qualify as hoarders. All of our critters get lots of veterinary care (just ask the vet!) (or take a peek at our vet bills) and plenty of love (actually, I think the term is "spoiled rotten").

    We have 5 dogs (down from 8 a couple of years ago), 14 2/3 cats (12 in the house, 2 in the barn, and a new guy in the barn who has finally decided to let us touch him/her - he's the 2/3 and hasn't been to the vet yet), 3 horses, 19 duckies, roughly 25 chickens, and Lucy the Goosie.

    BTW, everybody has their own December stocking (except the poultry - they have a group stocking).


    Those are the stockings for the indoor guys, including the 2 humans. The gold-fringed stocking 4th from the left was retired - Tramp died several months after this pic was taken.

    Too late to tip/rec, but thank you for this diary.

    Maxie Baucus took an axe, gave Single Payer 40 whacks. And when he saw what he had done, gave Public Option 41. (NO, Max! Bad Senator!)

    by SciMathGuy on Tue Oct 27, 2009 at 04:44:04 AM PDT

  •  Dumped cats in rural areas (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lineatus, Amber6541, wide eyed lib

    We live in a rural area where the problem is that people don't spay or neuter their animals. Barn cats are there to control rodents, and are not regarded as pets, and are allowed to multiply unchecked. The unwanted ones wander off, or are dumped with the misguided belief that they will be able to fend for themselves in the woods. Out here we have coyotes, so their survival chances aren't good.  Kind of hard to know who is doing this since the houses and barns are set way back off the road. Luckily we do have a shelter in a nearby town, but I'm not sure if they do low cost spaying and neutering- something to find out about.

    A couple of success stories-  Squeaker was found living in a ditch when she was about 3 months old, and was rescued by a neighbor who caught her in a live catch trap. She is now two years old, and one of the prettiest longhairs I've ever seen. A couple of months ago, Tigre, a male gray tabby wandered up. He was so thin you could see all his  ribs. We aren't sure of his age, but he's probably about a year old. It broke my heart to think that someone dumped this really sweet, friendly cat, who loves to sleep in laps. Squeaker and Tigre  now get the best of care, and as I write this, are both curled up contentedly in their fuzzy cat beds on the kitchen table next to my laptop.
    (Not sure if this picture will work- I don't have a very good internet connection out here!)
    Squeaker and Tigre

    Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

    by loblolly on Tue Oct 27, 2009 at 07:01:20 AM PDT

  •  a small offer... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I had a kitty named Loki die recently. She was a rescue who had chronic conjunctivitis her whole life (13 years). We constantly used terramycin on her, and that mostly kept the infection at bay, but she died unexpectedly of what we think was a massive stroke (unrelated to her eye issues).

    I had just ordered terramycin and have 2 unopened boxes of ointment that make me sad every time I look at them. If you email me your address (my email address is in my profile), I'd be happy to send the tubes to you.

    The work you do is amazing. Thank you. I'm sorry I wasn't in time to rec.

    "If I understand the GOP, government is bloated, wasteful and inefficient. And private insurance companies can't compete with that." --Malacandra tweet, 6/24/09

    by wide eyed lib on Tue Oct 27, 2009 at 08:32:10 AM PDT

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