Society

Hoarder Rented 2 Apartments to Keep 100 Cats, Kittens in Deplorable Conditions; Mental Illness or Cruelty?

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Up to 100 cats and kittens—many seriously ill—were seized from two Northland apartments in a four-plex, Kansas City animal control officials told KCTV-5 on Monday. The identity of the hoarder has been withheld and there is no indication whether charges will be filed.

Although experts claim that hoarding is an illness requiring treatment rather than incarceration, it is difficult to reconcile the concept that this hoarder did not see the conditions and realize she was complicit in the suffering of these animals. She once lived at the four-plex at 8208 Everton Ave. but reportedly moved out and continued to pay rent for Apt. C and D, where she kept the cats and allowed them to live in filth.

Psychiatrist Dr. Omar Rieche recently explained to NBC News that hoarding is a mental disorder. "It really is a human being that's suffering. That's what it comes down to," said Dr. Rieche. But, does that apply to this heinous case of mass animal neglect and cruelty?

Two of the cats were in such deplorable condition that they died before they could be given treatment, according to officials.

The hoarder would reportedly bring food and water to the animals but provided little other care. The cats were roaming the two apartments amid dirty water bowls, and litter boxes were overflowing. Flies were throughout the apartment and mice droppings could be seen, according to officers at the scene.

"Certainly that's what led to the build-up of ammonia and the sadness of this situation really," city spokesman Chris Hernandez told KCTV-5 reporters.

Feces were reportedly piled several feet high in some places and doors were blocked. The conditions inside the apartments were so deplorable and the smell of cat urine so strong that Kansas City firefighters had to come in and ventilate the apartments before animal control officers could even get inside to rescue the victims.

Some of the felines had suffered over a prolonged period of time and have life-threatening health issues, authorities state. At least some of the cats were not spayed or neutered and were continuing to reproduce in filthy, parasite-ridden conditions.

Some kittens are newborns and must be bottle fed for survival, officials told KCTV-5 News.

"A lot of them are thin. The worst part is their skin. They have such bad fleas," said KC Pet Project's Crystal Baker. "They were in so much urine and feces that most of them are covered head to toe in scabs."

Some of the cats are still hiding underneath furniture and trash in the two apartments. Animal control workers say they have put out traps to capture the terrified animals, including the mother who just gave birth. Because the woman scattered bags of food throughout the house, the food inside the traps hasn't been tempting enough to lure the scared felines inside so that they can be taken for medical treatment.

Animal hoarding, unfortunately, is something shelter workers deal with far too often; however, typically the hoarder lives with the animals, even though often many are found dead or in dying condition.

"To have them just living in a residence without anyone there and someone renting the space is just incredible to me," Baker said.

The KC Pet Project, which runs the city's no-kill animal shelter is receiving the felines and will assess them for health and adoptability. The Project says it is in desperate need of food, medicine, litter, wire crates and even foster families. Donations including gift cards to area pet stores can be made here.

The city says it is providing intervention services to the hoarder. The apartments have reportedly been posted as unsafe.

NBC reports that the hoarder contacted police and asked for aid and that she has been issued six misdemeanor citations.

Sources: NBC, KCTV