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Wild Card Wednesday: Hurting, Not Helping

October 5, 2011

We have a crazy cat lady that comes to our clinic on a regular basis.

While I realize that it is unkind to label her as such, please consider the following facts: She runs a “cat rescue” that consists of her bringing any cat (and sometimes dogs) that she finds to a house that she has bought specifically for this purpose. These animals live in cages and live traps, stacked on top of each other, completely filling the rooms of the house. In all we estimate that she has 150-200 animals at any given time. She is the only full-time “employee” of this cat rescue operation, meaning that she is supposed to clean and feed and care for all of these animals, some of whom are extremely sick, or injured. Some are just straight up feral.

In theory, she is rescuing these cats so that they have the chance to be adopted.

The reality of the situation is that she is in way over her head. Anyone with multiple cats can tell you what a pain it can be to keep them properly cleaned and cared for– factor in several hundred cats and it comes as no surprise that she cannot maintain an adequate level of sanitation for the animals. The end result of this, sadly, is that a large percentage of the cats she is keeping are chronically ill. This corresponds directly to a low adoption rate for her animals– who wants to take home a cat that is sick or dying?

In the past two weeks she has brought us two cats that needed to be put down immediately due to the state of being they were in. These animals were suffering, and there is no doubt in my mind that we did the kindest thing we could by putting them out of their misery.

But it makes me upset that we are placed in that position because of her inability to say “no”. I suspect that there are good motives behind her actions, but if the end result is an animal in excruciating pain is she really doing that animal a favor by not sending it to animal control?

The one that came in yesterday particularly upset me because the condition it was suffering from is caused only from prolonged illness. It had a prolapsed bowel (yes, it is as painful and disgusting as it sounds), and according to Doc the only two reasons that happens, generally speaking, are a mass in the intestines (rare) or prolonged diarrhea (much more common… and in this case much more likely). This means that our Cat Lady has been watching this animal suffer, possibly for weeks, and didn’t want to bring us this cat because she knew what Doc was going to say to her.


Having spent some time talking to this woman, I am beginning to suspect that she might suffer from some hoarding tendencies. I think Doc knows this, too, but she treats Cat Lady like a client and she treats each animal that Cat Lady brings us with the same dignity and consideration that she would treat someone’s pet.

Have I mentioned that my new boss is a pretty great role model?

But even she was pissed off when she looked inside the cage of yesterday’s poor feline and discovered cockroaches co-habitating. Vets follow the same general code that other Doctor’s do– first do no harm– so I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for her to see this parade of animals that are completely beyond her help except for the inevitable.

I guess this is mostly venting, since in reality there is nothing I can do about this situation. Cat Lady refuses to listen to anyone who suggests that she might not be doing the best by these animals by taking them on without consideration for space, time, or resources. She thinks that as long as the animal isn’t dead she’s saving it’s life.

I just wonder what kind of life being locked up sick in a cage is…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Meredith Bowes permalink
    October 6, 2011 12:11

    Hi Amanda… such a sad story.
    Isn’t it mandatory to report the hoarding (abuse) of these animals when brought to the attention of the vet? Hope those poor kitties get some sort of intervention.
    Hi to Chris for me!


    • October 6, 2011 12:16

      Meredith, I think you’re right. I spoke to Doc about it today and she said that she’s going to call the Health Department.

      I learned more of the back story from her, too… apparently Cat Lady used to have a partner who ran the shelter with her and was able to decline animals when it got to be too much, and make the tough decisions about the animals. A year or so ago this partner passed away, and things have all been downhill from there :/

      So sad… but hopefully we can get the ball rolling to get this woman and her cats the help they all need.


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