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Cat Hoarding Outdoors

Answered – Am I Really a Cat Hoarder?

by Spencer

I was recently on the phone with my mother and she had adopted her 5th kitten from the humane society.  She lives in a small 3 bedroom house and it made me wonder, how many cats are too many?

A question that popped into my mind is am I a cat hoarder?  No, only in extreme cases would you be considered a cat hoarder.  This is determined by the amount of space you have inside and outside and living conditions.  I will discuss each below and what would cause a person to take on too many cats.

Are You a Cat Hoarder Quiz

If you do in fact hoard cats, you may not realize some of the warning signs.  There may also be a denial involved.  Review each of the questions below and ask yourself if any apply.  If you answer yes, please check out this resource for help.

1.  Is my own well being at risk due to too many cats in my home? 

Are you able to afford the basic needs in your life?  If you can’t afford to keep your electricity on in the house or pay your bills on time you may have a problem.  Cat hoarders will feed their own cats before feeding themselves.  Also, are you able to clean up after all of your cats?  Have litter boxes that are full or a mess outside of the litterbox can be a hazard to you or your guests.

2.  Do close friends or family members share concern over how many cats you have? 

Are people concerned about how many cats you have in your house?  Family members usually give their opinion even if you are not asking.  Do you shy away from this question or cut them out of your life?  If you hear this from more than one person, they may have a good reason for concern.

3.  Have you stopped inviting people over for social functions? 

You may be aware that the amount of cats raises concern but you decided to support your hoarding addiction instead of being social.  This is a red flag and getting help is a priority.  If you have a large number of cats, this will eventually go noticed by neighbors and city officials.

4.  Are your cats’ taken care of? 

It is important to take care of the needs of your cats and kittens.  This includes getting their immunization and spay/neuter.  If your cats are reproducing, your kitten population will cause a serious problem for both you and your cats.

5.  Are your cats socialized? 

Do you have enough time and energy for all of your cats? This includes playing with them and making them comfortable around other humans.  If your cats are still wild and skittish around humans, you may have too many cats in your household that need attention.

6.  Are you able to keep your house clean? 

Having a clean home is important to your health and well being.  If you do not have a clean home, you are probably not concerned with general maintenance items that need attention.  Leaving these items unchecked can cause problems down the road.  Another problem with a cluttered house is you will not be able to find anything in your house.  You may even have problems walking through hallways or rooms.

7.  Are you sick more of the time? 

This ties into keeping your house clean.  If you smell ammonia on a regular basis from cat urine there is a hazard in your home.  Ammonia is created from the decomposition or cat urine (urea).  Ammonia vapors rise and get into your respiratory system through inhalation.  Over time this can cause damage to your lungs.  If you suffer from asthma you may have adverse side effects.  The New York health website explains all of the effects that ammonia can have on the body and some precautions to take if you are exposed.

8.  Do You Desire More Cats? 

In your mind, you may feel that you can help even more cats and you are the best provider for them.   If you answered yes to this question, you may want to get another perspective from someone you trust (if there is someone).  There are many loving cat owners out there and to think you can give them the best care will give you cause to horde cats.

9.  Is law enforcement or animal control involved? 

You can’t hide the fact that you have too many cats forever.  It may be the smell that tips off the neighbors or maybe the sounds.  If you have received notice from your landlord, law enforcement, or animal control.  It is good to heed their warnings.

10.  How many cats do you own? 

If you have to go around and count all the cats you have because you don’t know, you may have a problem.   A good rule of thumb in less you are running an animal rescue is to know the names and amounts of all the cats or kittens you have.

Guidelines for Cat Hoarding

So you took the quiz but still have questions on what is defined as cat hoarding?  Here is some additional information on hoarders :

  • A person is not able to correctly feed, care, clean, or shelter their cat or kitten.
  • The number one problem with feline neglect is starvation which causes disease and usually death.
  • A person has far more than a typical amount of cats (defined below).
  • A person is in denial about how they care for their cat and can not meet the needs of everyone in the household

The ADAA has additional information about animal hoard and some of the specific problems in America today.  They even have advice on how to get help about any animal situation you may be facing.

What Is Behind Cat Hoarding

We know that it is not healthy to hoard cats, but what is behind the need to hoard them?  Many originally believed that people with OCD (Obsessive_Compulsive Disorder) was responsible for cat hoarding but as new research developed they discovered additional traits that support:

  • Multiple Types of Depression
  • Attachment or Personality disorders
  • Delusional Disorder
  • Self-Neglect
  • Other Types of Mental Disorders

Cat hoarding can also be triggered by any type of major trauma or loss.  This can lead to people seeing themselves as “cat rescuers” that will be able to provide for a cat better then they can on their own.

Cat Rules Per Room

It is tempting to adopt a new kitten from the humane society every time we volunteer but we stick to a rule to keep the cats happy and to make sure they are getting enough attention and care.  This is only my guideline and the bigger the house you have, the more cats you can have.

Cat Guidelines Table:

1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom 4 Bedroom
Third Floor 7 Cats 8 Cats 9 Cats
Second Floor 4 Cats 5 Cats 6 Cats
Single Floor 1 Cats 2 Cats 3 Cats
Have a Cat for Each Bedroom

Not everyone has the luxury of living in a house and you may be confined to a one-bedroom apartment.  If this is the case, I would recommend having only one cat.  If you live in a larger apartment with 2 or more bedrooms, you can get an additional cat per bedroom.  It is an easy formula to follow to keep cat owners honest.

Some people may have a very large house with fewer bedrooms and a more liveable area.  I would recommend looking at the square footage instead of the bedroom count.  The rule is at 900-1000 square feet or less, no more than two cats.  In a 2000 square foot house, you should have no more than four and it goes up from there.

Other Pets Living With Your Cats

Do you also have dogs or other animals living with your cats?  If so you should add this to the formula based on the breed and size of your other pets.  Having a Great Dane would greatly impact your home and I would recommend subtracting two cats from the formula.

Is there a Legal Limit on Cats?

There are no strict guidelines on how many cats you can have and these laws are not heavily regulated.  In parts of California, you can have up to 4 dogs or cats that are 4 months or older.  If you wish to have more than this, you will have to apply for a special permit.  This will vary from state to state but it is always a great idea to follow up with your local county regulations.

Identifying a cat hoarder in your community

You may not have a cat hoarding problem but you may have noticed some signs from the house down the street.  In most situations it is not a good idea to confront who you suspect, instead, call law enforcement or animal control.  Here are some signs to look for:

The house, apartment, or condo is run down and there is clutter inside and out.  Another sign is the general maintenance of the house.  Look for broken windows, trash, and appearance.

Is there a strong smell inside or outside of the owner’s dwelling?  You can really smell the ammonia from cat urine but can you also see feces, throw up, or even dead animals.

Is there a lot of cats indoors and out?  A cat hoarder in specifically may not have enough room to house all of their cats.  You will usually hear or see them running around in the neighborhood.

Does the owner of the living space take care of themselves?  Usually, when a person becomes isolated they stop taking care of themselves.

If you personally know the person in your community that is a cat hoarder, do they insist that all of their animals are perfectly happy when they are not?

Outdoor Cat Hoarding

Some may ask am I a cat hoarder if they are all outside?  The answer is yes if you do not have the correct outdoor space for your cats.  This varies depending on the size of the outdoor space and conditions. Here are some key points on keeping outdoor cats.

Is your outside climate appropriate for cats to live year-round and are you able to keep a clean living space for them?

Is there enough space for your cats?  Refer to the criteria above.  If you are not running a rescue out of your house you can have an additional 2-3 outdoor cats that are in an enclosure

Is there an enclosure for your cats?  If you allow your cats to run around the neighborhood, they could potentially fall prey to other animals or be run over by a vehicle.

cats laying on table

Do all of the cats get along?  If all of your cats do not get along I would suggest having enough room for each to separate themselves.  Having plenty of hiding spots where your cat can nap and relax is important.

Is your outdoor area clean?  Make sure to clean up after your cats and do not leave food out when they are done eating.  You don’t want to attract insects or vermin.

Consider how other pets get along with cats.  Is your dog in the same space as your cats?  Keeping them separated may be the best practice for your cat’s happiness.

How You Can Help Rescue Cats

There are loving owners out there that take care of their cats but not everyone shares the same ideas about cat rescue.  If you suspect someone of being a cat hoarder there may be helpful for them.

Build a Relationship with the cat hoarder.  Some people will have an ear about accepting outside help with their problems.  There are many groups that can help address the psychological issues present in the hoarder

Contacting law enforcement or animal control.  When things have gone on far too long, the cats well being is the most important part.  Picking up the phone is the first part of getting help to cats in need.

Volunteer at your local shelter.  During the springtime, there is a large increase in the cat population.  Shelters are overburdened and need your help socializing kittens, cleaning cages, and spending time with all the animals.  A little help will go a long way.

Helping When Others Can’t.  Is there a cat that needs to spayed or neutered?  If the owner is elderly or unable to take the cat to the vet, you may be able to help.  If they have the money to help the cat, all they may need is for you to transport the cat to the vet.  If money is an issue there may be alternatives.

Sometimes, during the spring and summer months, the Humane Society offers free spay or neuter for kittens or cats.  For additional information, please take a look at their website for additional information.

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