If you read my blog, odds are you, at least, like cats. From the feedback I've gotten over the years, I'm guessing most of you LOVE cats as dearly as I do. The question I place before you today is: Are you rescuing or adopting cats without considering the effect on your own life, well being? Are you clear-minded enough to know when to say, “No” when someone wants you to help then with a cat? Where is the tipping point between having a lot of cats and having too many?
I'm a collector. I have 140 tin lunchboxes, about 50 snow globes, about 40 salt & pepper shakers (only ones that are miniature appliances), cookie jars, old soda advertising signs, illustrated antique children's books and lots more. Everything is organized. You can walk across the room (unless there's a cat in the way). I keep the place tidy and clean (save for a few piles of mail or what not) and it doesn't smell bad unless I cooked dinner recently.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, it's a wall of lunchboxes! Everyone should have one...or two.
I have eight cats. Sometimes I have as many as 20. Am I a haorder? Or am I walking a fine line between enjoying my collectibles and cats, and sliding into chaos, disease and decay?
I wonder if any of YOU have the same fear I do: “I'm ok and can handle what I have now, but I could see myself going overboard if I'm not careful.”
Recently, I was contacted by Marsha Rabe. She lives in Connecticut and loves cats. Twenty five years ago she met a woman who became her dear friend. They did a lot of animal rights work including anti-hunting, anti-circus, vegetarian education and more. She's been a tireless advocate for animals for most of her life. Her friend, who I've been asked not to name, “was beyond a doubt one of the most intelligent, charming, talented, articulate, and cultured people I have ever known.”
This is not the description of someone who is a hoarder...yet...over the years her friend developed a problem as described to me by Marsha:
WHAT HOARDING LOOKS LIKE
It started out as it always does, one good person trying to address the horrible overpopulation of cats by taking them in, one at a time.
For more than 30 years, a woman in New Haven took in strays and ferals, adopting them out at the beginning, when she could, but then gradually becoming overwhelmed. Simply maintaining the population took all of her strength and time. To her great credit, she spayed/neutered all of her cats and also provided basic veterinary care. But there was no time or energy left for placement, and besides, many of the cats were feral and basically unplaceable. They were, quite simply, the cats that no one else wanted.
For many years, the cats had a decent quality of life. But this summer, she became seriously ill, and the situation deteriorated quickly and horribly. She died on Nov. 9 from cancers related to conditions in her home.
She was my friend.
As I said, most of the 65 cats were feral and/or sick, and though we tried to find places for them to go, we soon realized that they had to be euthanized. We had the support of a kind and generous veterinarian, but the task was heartbreaking.
We are now trying to place the few that remain.
The only true outside feral is Perdita (last photo), a longhaired grey cat on the light green blanket. She is older, about 12, we think. There are three other indoor ferals whose photos I could not get.
I believe all of the others will come out of their shells, given time, patience, and one-on-one attention. If you have any thoughts about any of these cats, PLEASE let me know.
Thanks very much.
I asked Marsha if anyone had tried to help this woman reduce the number of cats in her home and she answered:
Yes, I tried to bring up the subject of the cats many times, as did many of her other friends. But her intense sense of privacy and her uncanny ability to deflect any question about the cats — and then to change the subject — meant that none of us ever got very far…until this summer, when she got sick. Then she had to let some of us help, and we learned the details.
I think if your readers find themselves unable to say no, if they find themselves keeping their animals a secret, if they don't let people into their homes, if they find themselves becoming more and more reclusive...then they should ask themselves, "Am I a hoarder?"
What is painfully sad is that Marsha lost her friend because her friend's love and devotion to cats meant more to her than her own life. With lack of sanitary conditions in the home, it not only sickened the cats, it took the life of her friend.
I'd like to help Marsha find homes for the remaining cats.We just need a few folks to step up and lend a hand...that is...IF you have adequate space, the time and the finances to do so. I'm not going to write about hoarding and ask you all to adopt more cats unless your decision is made with a clear mind and adequate resources.
These are the cats who need help now.
©2010 Marsha Rabe. CLEMENTINE (two photos, above) One of the shyer cats, but is definitely beginning to hang out more. Her sister is Catriona, below.
©2010 Marsha Rabe. CATRIONA, Clementine's sister. About 4 or 5. Has one clouded eye. Shy, but coming out of her shell little by little.
©2010 Marsha Rabe, MOJO, a three-legged cat with a slightly twisted mouth (which makes eating messy), and a crooked tail. But he is a lively cat who just needs attention so he can stop feeling grumpy and find his way in life.It is hard to get a good photo of him because he is always rubbing your ankles. Robin's Note: I LOVE THAT WHITE FOOT!
©2010 Marsha Rabe, Perdita, is a semi-feral lady who may prefer a barn placement or outdoor placement. Very pretty lady. UPDATE: Perdita has been living INDOORS for the past month and is showing signs of coming out of her shell. I would LOVE to see her get a chance at a real home. At her age, living outdoors would be a cruel end for her. Maybe someone with a quiet home could give her a chance? Perdita is the heroine of Shakesperare's "A Winter's Tale" and means "lost one" in Latin.
There are a few other cats. One just showed up the other day so they're trying to get the situation worked out. If you have a barn and could take a few cats or a loving home or a rescue group that can help with the shy kitties or Mojo, please contact MARSHA RABE directly at:
marsharabe (@ symbol) comcast.net
NOTE: We don't display ______@___.com address to prevent spammers.
The cats have been vetted and are located in the area of NEW HAVEN, CT
The ASPCA has excellent information about Animal Hoarding and how to recognize hoarding behavior. It's very sobering, indeed and I think it would be arrogant of me to think I could never be that person. I hope that this information helps all of you to keep loving your cats and to make sure you don't take on more than you can handle.