Captain's Cabin

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wondering Wednesday

There was an article on Petcentric about Dogs and Cats getting lost and how humans who find apparent strays should not just assume that they are strays and should take steps to reunite them with their humans. This is all well and good, but with Cats, if they do not like where they are living, they will leave.

Cats are largely independent creatures and will not say in conditions they do not like. One of these conditions is overcrowding.

There are always stories of the old lady that lives in a house with 87 cats and I often read something, usually once a year, about one of these so called "Cat Ladies". There was a video recently about the lady in Moscow with 130 cats in her apartment. She say she want to help them but does having that many cats live in such crowded conditions really help them?

So I have been thinking, what is an acceptable number of pets? What constitutes a pet collector or a pet hoarder?

I do not think that there is a hard and fast number. If you take good care of your animals, they are all healthy and their is room enough for all of them to have their own area, then I would say you could have easily have more pets then someone you lives in tiny apartment in city, is not home often and cannot afford to take proper care of more than one.

A family that is home more often then not will obviously have time to devote to more animals.

The other question involves level of care. Is food and water enough? Shouldn't a certain level of interaction be involved. Is a cat that is given food and water, lives in a house and ever goes outside, a pet if the cat never receives any petting or spends quality time with a human?

My Bean knows of a situation where a pair of humans have a colony of feral cats in their attic. They feel that because they feed and water the cats, and that the cats are inside, away from things that can harm them that they are helping them. But the cats do not receive regular health care from a professional (notice how nicely I sidestep that V word?) and they are not fixed, so they can produce kittens, which is how the whole colony got started. First they took in a pair, then the pair had kittens and then the kittens had kittens...

These, to me, are not pets and you are not really helping the animals. They live in fear of the humans and of the woofies that also live in the house and they will not come by the woofies or the humans. Also they fight amongst themselves, and often kittens are killed by the adult cats because the room is limited.

This is a problem but these humans will not ask for help and local agencies will not step in as a it is a private residence.

On a similar note, there are the Infantis who own a Birman and a Main Coon, a Chausie, two cougars and a Siberian lynx. The cougars and the lynx live outside have enclosed cages and are allowed out of the cages and into the family's enclosed porch to play and interact with the humans. The two domestic cats and the Chausie all live inside the house. I think in this case, these animals are more pets than in the previous case.

What are your thoughts on this matter. What is an acceptable number of pets, and what is an acceptable level of care.


Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

The beans wif da colony in der attic...dumb. You think dey wood get da hint wif all da TNR (trap, neuter, release) info der is all over da place. Those is not pets and dey is not helping, by allowing all dat breeding to go on! We haf a frend who has 32 cats, she's not a collector. She has da room and da resources and she knows each of dem cats by site, touch and sound. She knows rite away if one isn't feeling good and takes care of da prollem. She also has a vet, er, healthcare profeshonal, dat sees dem fur der annual fisikal and shots and is furry impressed wif her level of care wif dat many pets. We also know a lady dat had two cats and couldn't keep da litter bokses clean and would furget to feed dem afore she left fur work and ended up getting kicked out of her apartment cuz da other naybors (who all had pets) couldn't stand da smell anymore. Dem kitties is living wif a much nicer bean now...

The Cat Realm said...

I don't think there is an acceptable number. But it is for sure that cats in a confined environment with too many other cats will NOT DO GOOD. That is why so many cats have health problems when you get them from the Humane Society for example. Because they are in a room with other, strange cats. And that is VERY stressful for them.
If cats are locked inside, there should really not be too many of them! And dozens or more is too many!

The Crew said...

I don't think the number of cats is as important as the environment and the quality of care and interaction with their families. Look at 40 Paws with 10 cats all receiving excellent care. We are 4 and our Mom would have a few more but she says it's expensive for all the VET bills and stuff we need.

Those people with a feral colony in their attic should have animal control take them. Possibly the younger ones could be adopted.

Radcliff, Allie, Luna & Ozzie said...

We're with the rest of the comments. The treatment of the critters is more important than number. The beans at places like Forty Paws or Artsy Catsy manage to keep a dozen or so kitties going great. We've all seen cases where one kittie or woofer is treated more like a chair than a friend.

Jimmy Joe said...

That is scary to think of all those kitties being trapped in an attic. I think that Beans should only keep as many kitties as they can properly care for, which includes space. If a kitty can't find a nice private spot anywhere, there are too many kitties in that place. We're big fans of managed feral colonies, where kitties can be Wild and Free and not have to worry about havin' babies anymore or gettin' the Rabies.
Your buddy, Jimmy Joe

Forty Paws said...

Keeping unfixed ferals inside is inhumane. I'm surprised that animal control won't intervene. Perhaps conditions aren't horrific enough yet as per your state laws? That can really dictate how much animal control and law enforcement can do. Also, some cities, and Homeowner's Associations, have limits on how many animals can be kept at one residence. The city of Dallas does not have a limit, and therefore, a lot of the horrible stories of hoarders in this area come from Dallas. Most of the suburban cities have limits, like 4 or 5 animals.

Personally, I will say that 10 cats in my home is too many. I have 1600 sq. ft. with numerous cat trees, and the cats still don't have enough room to really stake out their own territory. In the wild, female cats are known to roam 3 sq. miles, while a male will take 10 sq. miles of territory. Urban living puts a real kink into that natural behavior.

It's also extremely expensive to properly care for this many cats. The reason we have this many is because I used to foster, and I ended up keeping the special needs cats and a few I became very attached to. Once we got to ten, I quit fostering. Period. I'll never have this many at one time again. It's a full time job for me to keep them happy, groomed, their litter boxes cleaned, and the house clean. The food bills and vet bills are outrageous, especially since we have so many special needs cats. If some of these cats had been adopted out, they likely would have been euthanized by now because of the cost of their surgeries and ongoing care.

I think the Humane Society of the US, or ASPCA have profiles on what truly constitutes a hoarder. The main thing is that the person truly believes that they are still helping the animals, yet are often found to have numerous sick or dead animals, no vet care, inadequate food and water, and unsanitary living conditions; like the animals are living in cages in 2 inches of feces, or the whole house has layers of feces and urine and dead animals.

Also, with true hoarders, they can't stop. After their animals are taken away, they must be monitored by the law, which the hoarder usually circumvents by moving out of that jurisdiction. It's a psychological illness sort of like OCD.

Parker said...

What Maw just said.

Mickey said...

I agree with what everyone said. Cats(dogs) are companion animals and must have intercation with humans. That, in addition to food,shelter,exercise,water and Vet care.

Name: Mr. Hendrix said...

wow, numbers would be hard, but i think when it gets to where the beans can't afford healthcare for every cat in their care it is hoarding. i also agree each cat needs at least some individual attention (some rescued former ferals only like a minimum of attention, but without that, how would the bean notice something wrong with the cat??) to be healthy and happy.
I think hoarding is one of those things you know when you see (or smell) it. The animals behavior and physical appearance is a good sign.

Tara said...

I thought Maw hit the nail on the head. Excellent, well thought out response.