Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hoarding is coming out of hiding

Moira Monahan opened the door of a home inSacramento's Meadowview neighborhood over the Labor Day weekend and found 130 sets of eyes upon her. Cats lounging on the floor. Cats perched on furniture. Cats prancing across countertops. Cats everywhere.

"I was kind of swimming in cats," said Monahan, an animal welfare volunteer. "It was surreal."

It was an extreme case of a largely hidden phenomenon: the "hoarding" of animals or objects to the point that living conditions become unsafe.

Scientists have only begun to delve into the roots of such behavior, with recent research suggesting it may be linked to serious mental problems including obsessive-compulsive disorder.

A documentary film, "My Mother's Garden," and a television program on the A&E station called "Hoarders" have shined public attention on some of the most dramatic cases around the country. The issue resurfaced in Sacramento earlier this month, when authorities confiscated 78 "hoarded" cats from a house in the south area of the city.

As odd as the behavior may seem, police and sheriff's deputies say they regularly are called to homes so overloaded with papers, trash, groceries and other items that navigating is virtually impossible..." More