By ANDY NEWMAN
With the regularity of exploding manholes, cases of cat-hoarding crop up in the news. On Monday, workers from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the city’s Animal Care and Control agency, summoned by a neighbor’s complaint, went to a one-bedroom apartment in East New York, Brooklyn, where two cats Kima Graham adopted five years ago had somehow managed to produce 33 more.
So who are these cat ladies, and why do they choose to accumulate cats rather than, say, old newspapers or bobblehead dolls?
They are indeed women more often than not, psychologists say. But the stereotype of the obsessive-compulsive cat lady — surrounded by filth and sickly cats and unable to recognize the harm she is doing them — does not always hold true, and in Ms. Graham’s case, it did not. Ms. Graham, 53, took reasonably good care of her cats, admitted she was overwhelmed by their demands and was glad to be relieved of all but two of them, said Allison Cardona, the A.S.P.C.A.’s director of operations for field investigations, who was at the apartment. (The cats need homes. If you want to adopt one, contact the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.)
Stephanie LaFarge, a psychologist with the A.S.P.C.A., said that in fact, there were many different kinds of cat hoarders. There is the classic obsessive-compulsive who collects animals to create a universe she can control; the commercial breeder whose inventory-control mechanisms go awry; the once-robust cat owner who becomes infirm or demented and can no longer herd her brood.
Dr. LaFarge said that the authorities needed to do a better job recognizing the causes of hoarding and getting help for hoarders — there was a foundation-financed New York City hoarding task force a few years ago, but its money dried up, she said — and that society as a whole needed to become as upset about dozens of cats being kept in unhealthy conditions as it did about, say, a man kicking a single dog around an elevator.
“We tend to go blank when it’s 25 or 50 or 75 animals as opposed to a single animal that’s suffered,” Dr. LaFarge said. “It’s behavior, that, whether it’s intended or not, harms a lot of animals.” More
Jan 19, 2009: Sufferin' cats! 35 in 1 apt.Maybe the mice can finally get back to playing.
Animal-care agents found an eye-popping 35 cats in a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment yesterday after their crowded-out and increasingly cash-strapped owner broke down and begged for help, the agents and the cat lady said.
"I'm bringing [them] food like crazy," said the exhausted woman, Kima Graham, 53. "It was costing me a lot of money. I didn't want to throw them out in the street. Everyone in the complex has a kitten from me." More