Yes, it’s that time to “preach to the converted” and have a rant about hoarding. (And no, there are no kittens yet!!)
I’ve had a few fosters from hoarding situations, notably these guys. I was lucky; with only mild socialization issues, most of my hoardees didn’t have any long term health issues. Gilbert & Sullivan had to be shaved and had bad colds. But that was about it.
HOWEVER, that is not always the case. There was a Toronto Star article posted on the Foster Parents Page about a recent cruelty conviction (rare!) for a hoarding situation. One hundred and seven cats were removed from the house; one survived. ONE!
Right now one of our foster parents is fighting to keep a bunch of kittens alive. She has two moms and originally had 13 kittens all from a hoarding situation. No one knows if the kittens belong to the moms or not — there were other nursing queens and kittens in the house — but the moms are looking after them all together. The foster is having to supplement and medicate ALL the kittens (and medicate the moms). Most of the kittens will lose their sight in one or both eyes due to infection having damaged their corneas. Two have already died; two more are fighting for their lives. The kittens suffer, the queens are sick, and the foster certainly suffers; from the workload and the heartache. THIS is what hoarding is. It is not just an eccentric person with a bunch of happy cats running around. Shelters, with all their skill, care, and cleaning, cannot keep disease under control. How can a hoarder — too embarrassed or financially unable to seek help — possibly manage?
If you suspect hoarding — and truly, I cannot imagine that people can’t smell* or see the signs — please, please report it! Report it to the police, the local shelter or human society, a local rescue group, even by-law enforcement. SOMEONE. And understand that it is not a fast process; gaining access is extremely difficult. Don’t be discouraged that “nothing’s happening”. If you’re wrong, oh well. But if you’re right? Yes, the hoarder will lose most (if not all) of the animals. Yes, they’ll be upset. But suffering and dying (and I guarantee you they’re there) cats will be rescued or humanely put out of their suffering.
I am blessed to not have witnessed a severe hoarding case. But a number of people in Toronto Cat Rescue have. One look at their faces when the subject comes up is enough to tell me I never want to see it.
*in most severe hoarding cases the damage to the house, from urine and feces, is so bad the building has to be destroyed.