EATONTOWN, NJ – Rarely does the hoarder start out with the intention of collecting uncontrollable numbers of pets.  Often they start out by innocently caring for the neighborhood stray or they begin by rescuing an animal into what they believe to be a better way of life.  However, a hoarding situation can quickly get out of control, which is why the Monmouth County SPCA (MCSPCA) wasted no time in removing nine cats that were living in a large dog crate with their well-intentioned care taker.

After living at a local campground for several months with her dog and the cats she had rescued from life in the wild, she was finally ready to seek help.  However, in order for this woman to establish residency at a community shelter she would have to part with the cats she loved so dearly.

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The MCSPCA handles all types of animal welfare situations from owner abuse and cruelty of their pet to the owner who economically can no longer afford care for their beloved animal companion. And while they all carry their own emotional burden none is sadder than that of the animal hoarder.  While animal hoarding isn’t a new problem in the animal welfare community, it has become the latest trend in reality television. In real life, however, there is nothing glamorous or entertaining about the problems hoarding creates.   The Hoarding Animals Research Consortium uses the following criteria to define a “hoarder”.

  • More than the typical number of companion animals
  • Inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness and death
  • Denial of the inability to provide this minimum care and the impact of that failure on the animals, the household and the human occupants of the home

“When she arrived at the MCSPCA Homeward Bound Adoption Center the van she was in was loaded with tons of black garbage bags stacked on top of one another.  The smell was overwhelming from all of the cats living in a large dog carrier and covered in their own urine and feces,” explained MCSPCA Humane Law Enforcement Lieutenant Ronnie Ehrenspeck.

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Three of the nine cats removed from a hoarder's home.

The cats are estimated to range in age from six months to two years. None of them are spayed or neutered and have never been to a veterinarian.  “Surely nine cats doesn’t sound like a typical hoarding case. But left unspayed or neutered, nine cats can quickly multiply into double digits and beyond.  A female cat can go into heat at the age of four months and can have four kittens per litter and deliver two to four litters per year, “ stated Francesca Alexander MCSPCA Community Cat Coordinator.   The cats are all friendly and have fairly healthy body weights given their less than desirable living conditions; however, they are all recovering from flea dermatitis and urine burn.

The cats in this situation are lucky and will be given their second chance to have a happy ending to their story at the Monmouth County SPCA when they are made available for adoption.  However, that isn’t always the case.  Many of the animals taken under these circumstances suffer from neglect, a lack of nutrition and veterinary care.  There is also a large amount of stress put on the organization when taking in a large number of animals at one time that all require medical attention.

Increasing the public awareness of the plight of the animal victims in these hoarding cases can help put a stop to them before the number of animals living in one household becomes unmanageable.  Often neighbors are aware of a hoarding situation due to the odor associated with having so many animals in a confined space.  Placing a call to the MCSPCA Humane Law Enforcement Division at 732-542-0040 is a good place to start if you suspect an animal hoarding situation is taking place in your neighborhood.

To learn more about the cats from this case or any of the other almost 200 feline residents available for adoption at the Monmouth County SPCA Homeward Bound Adoption Center call 732-542-0040.  The MCSPCA located at 260 Wall Street, Eatontown is a non-profit organization that relies on private donations and modest fees to fund its many programs.  To learn more about the MCSPCA please visit www.monmouthcountyspca.org