Friday, March 26, 2010

How many cats is too many?

Can you have too many pets? Well, as a pet lover my first reaction is no! But of course, like with ice cream and M&M's (okay, these are my personal issues!) sometimes things are taken to the extreme. While most dogs enjoy the company of other dogs, and cats seem happy in feline families, I'm thinking of people who accumulate pets to unhealthy and unsafe proportions. While this can happen with both dogs and other animals too, I'm reminded of the cat lady stereotype.

The Crazy Cat Ladies Society, an organization and boutique that uses humor to counter the stereotypes made about people who love cats, explains that animal hoarding is a psychological disorder, and recommends reporting harmful situations to the authorities.

Recent cases of cat hoarding have cropped up in the news last week. These situations may have started out as worthy attempts to help animals, and escalated out of control.

* Nearly 40 cats were removed from a San Antonio home littered with trash, cat feces and filth. The woman said she welcomed the help because she realized she had a problem.

* Also last week a Pennsylvania woman was cited for violating probation, stemming from her previous arrest for animal cruelty charges, due to keeping hundreds of cats in her home.

* Last spring this New Jersey woman's home was found in deplorable conditions, overrun by 93 cats.

According to this article in PETA, three characteristics of animal hoarders are that animal hoarders:
1. amass a large number of animals
2. fail to properly provide for the animals needs (food, water, sanitary conditions)
3. deny the abysmal living conditions of the animals

I know of many multiple cat families in happy, clean and healthy situations. What matters is well cared-for pets, no matter how many are owned. It's not about the number, but about the conditions. And if the number of pets exceeds the ability to provide adequate care, the responsible owner then knows it's time to make some changes.

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