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Q: Old Ladies and Cats ( Answered,   6 Comments )
Subject: Old Ladies and Cats
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: tnsdan-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 17 Oct 2004 16:20 PDT
Expires: 16 Nov 2004 15:20 PST
Question ID: 416181
It seems as though every once in a while, you hear a story about an
old lady who has something like 200 cats.  In most cases, they are
living in terribly unsanitary conditions.  Eventually, the lady either
dies or the health department takes over, and it finds its way onto
the news.  There was even an episode of CSI about it.  In any case,
what's going on with that?  Is there some sort of psychological
explanation for this?  It seems like it is common enough that there
has to be some sort of theory or explanation about it.  I guess I;m
not sure what possesses someone to become a "cat hermit."  (Also, let
it be known that I am a proud owner of ONE cat, so this is not a cat
basing question!)

Subject: Re: Old Ladies and Cats
Answered By: googleexpert-ga on 17 Oct 2004 16:57 PDT
Hi tnsdan-ga,
There doesn't seem to be one psychological explanation about animal
hoarding, only findings[1]:
Here are the findings from "People who hoard animals" by Randy Frost[1]

Typically, animals played significant roles in their childhoods, which
were often characterized by chaotic, inconsistent and unstable

Most participants reported their collecting started in childhood.[1]

Most of the people interviewed as part of the HARC project were
relatively isolated and socially anxious, perhaps causing interactions
with animals to be more comfortable than interactions with people.[1]

Specifically, our preliminary findings suggest that people who hoard
animals often believe they have a special gift for communicating or
empathizing with animals, and that this is their life's mission (i.e.,

Social isolation was common but appeared to result from the hoarding
behavior rather than causing it.[1]

In addition, Patronek (1999) indicated that over 80% of animal
hoarders also hoarded inanimate objects. [1]

Also, "Hoarding is very often a symptom of a greater mental illness,
such as obsessive-compulsive disorder."[4]

You might find it of some concern that animal hoarding poses a public
health problem.[2]

[1] "People who hoard animals",. Frost, Randy
[2] Hoarding of animals: an under-recognized public health problem in
a difficult-to-study population.
[3] The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium
[4] Behind Closed doors: The Horrors of Animal Hoarding

[Search Strategy]
"multiple pets" study -allergy

Please let me know if you have anymore questions.

Thank you.

Subject: Re: Old Ladies and Cats
From: pinkfreud-ga on 17 Oct 2004 17:12 PDT
There is a stereotype of the crazy old lady with a houseful of cats,
but animal collectors aren't always female. A male relative of mine
(who was known to be "eccentric" in many ways) had a large menagerie
of animals. After he died, dozens and dozens of cats, dogs, ferrets,
squirrels, and raccoons were found in his house. Most of them were
kept in small cages. Some were deformed from confinement, and the
majority of the poor things were euthanized because they were beyond
helping. I am certain that this man believed himself to be the savior
of these creatures. He loved them dearly, but his mind was so addled
that he did not understand that his attempts to help were hurting. In
other ways, this man displayed signs of OCD, and I think the
animal-collecting was a compulsive behavior resulting from brain
chemistry gone wrong.
Subject: Re: Old Ladies and Cats
From: probonopublico-ga on 17 Oct 2004 22:19 PDT
Picking up on Pinkfreud's point ...

In general, women live longer than men so they have a greater
opportunity to go batty. When they do, they may find the company they
need in cats.

In my experience, cats are always coming up to me to say 'Hello' and I
guess that if I were to feed them, they would become regular visitors.
So, it's easy enough to see how a herd could be accumulated.

However, very few people can afford to keep a lot of pets. Vets' bills
& food are horribly expensive. So, there is a risk of the cat(s)
becoming neglected.
Subject: Re: Old Ladies and Cats
From: silver777-ga on 18 Oct 2004 01:15 PDT
The psychological explanation is: lonliness
Subject: Re: Old Ladies and Cats
From: steph53-ga on 18 Oct 2004 06:38 PDT
Let me add my two cents here....

I live with a cat and could be considered "old". I have thought of
getting another one but fought that notion as one is enough work for
I consider my cat to be sort of my *roomate*. I share all my daily
trials and tribulations with him and he, in turn, shares his soft
purrs and kisses with me :)

Subject: Re: Old Ladies and Cats
From: owain-ga on 18 Oct 2004 07:39 PDT
Cats are usually less confined than dogs and therefore have more
opportunity for breeding. Given the opportunity, they will.

Subject: Re: Old Ladies and Cats
From: probonopublico-ga on 18 Oct 2004 09:21 PDT
Gottverdammich (as we say in German)

Many folk who live by themselves (like me) enjoy the companionship of
a little furry creature - even Daisy.

After a time, maybe this becomes an addiction or an obsession (there
is a difference) which drives the human mad.

If they had not driven their human mad, they would not have been neglected.

Ergo, the animals themselves are to blame for their plight.


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