Characteristics of a hoarder
An animal hoarder keeps an unusually large number of pets for their premises, and fails to care for them properly. A hoarder is distinguished from an animal breeder, who would have numerous animals as the central component of their business; this distinction can be problematic, however, as some hoarders are former breeders who have ceased selling and caring for their animals, while others will claim to be breeders as a psychological defense mechanism, or in hopes of forestalling intervention. Gary Patronek, director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University, defines hoarding as the "pathological human behavior that involves a compulsive need to obtain and control animals, coupled with a failure to recognize their suffering". According to another study, the distinguishing feature is that a hoarder "fails to provide the animals with adequate food, water, sanitation, and veterinary care, and... is in denial about this inability to provide adequate care." Along with other compulsive hoarding behaviors, it is linked in the DSM-IV to obsessive compulsive disorder and obsessive compulsive personality disorder. The DSM-5 includes a diagnosis of hoarding disorder.
Is animal hoarding common?
It is estimated that between 2% to 5% of the American population is affected by this compulsive behavior. Hoarding can take many forms as people tend to collect all kinds of items. Sometimes, they even collect living and breathing animals.
Treatment for animal hoarders will usually involve coordinating intervention with local or regional animal shelters and animal control officers to make it harder for the hoarder to rescue or adopt more animals.
The natural affection we feel for animals can be compared to the affection we feel for our children. We impulsively care for them and desire to help them because they are unable to help themselves easily. Our perception of adult humans is that they can easily speak up for their rights or defend themselves from danger.
Researchers say the condition is distinct from typical hoarding. We can all be packrats at times, letting our homes overflow with junk. But for millions of people, the compulsion to hoard things is a debilitating disorder—and when those “things” are animals, the results can be tragic.
Hoarding is generally prosecuted under state animal cruelty laws. In most states it is a misdemeanor offense, but in some states it may be a felony offense. Penalties for the offense can include fines, animal forfeiture, and jail time.
How many cats can you have before it's considered hoarding?
About 80 percent of the reported hoarding houses have sick or even dead animals inside without the owner knowing about it. Cats are the most hoarded animals (65 percent) followed by rabbits and small dogs. According to experts, an individual must not have more than five cats.
Noah syndrome is a variant of Diogenes syndrome that presents as hoarding a large number of animals. Predisposing factors for developing this disorder are situations of psychosocial stress and loneliness.
We all love pets when they are babies, but sooner or later they grow up into big adults who grumble when they are picked up. Most pet obsessives are addicted to acquiring new pets, and kittens are the cutest of them all.
The number of cats you can humanely care for depends on your availability, energy, and resources. For most of us, having one or two cats is a full-time job, but some people may be able to balance caring for as many as four to six cats.
Hoarded animals are kept in horrid conditions: deprived of socialization, denied proper care and nutrition, often living covered in their own waste, and suffering from disease.