129 cats just wasn't enough

Ransom Riggs

The title of this video, as per YouTube, is "Crazy Russian Lady Owns 130 Cats." That really says it all. Watch her part the feline sea as she feeds them like one would seagulls at the beach.

Jaw-dropping, no? And you heard her right: at the end of the clip, she cries "give me more cats!" It's a peculiar psychological phenomenon called "animal hording," and can involve everything from chinchillas to mongooses, but most typically victimized are cats and dogs. According to the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (yes, really), crazy cat ladies and their obsessive ilk collectively hoard some 250,000 animals at any given time in the United States. Not only do the attendant smells and noises bug neighbors, but the inability for most hoarders to properly care for all their animals is a serious animal welfare issue. (A quick peek at this blog on animal hoarding reveals any number of news stories on pet hoarders being arrested for animal cruelty when dead and dying animals are found in their homes, uncared for -- also those houses are frequently condemned.)

Portrait of a cat lady, after the jump.

This is an English-language news report on the Siberian cat lady, who apparently cares for her furry brood as well as can be expected:

So what can explain this kind of hoarding behavior? The psychiatry of hoarding is in its infancy, though it's classified as a type of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. We do have access to a few interesting studies, however, that give a portrait of your average hoarder:

"¢ Most of those studied collected dogs, or cats; men more often collected dogs, and women more often collected cats. "¢ Nearly two-thirds of their sample were women, and 70% were single, divorced or widowed. "¢ Social isolation was common but appeared to result from the hoarding behavior rather than causing it. "¢ Most reported their collecting started in childhood. "¢ Many had no telephone, public utilities or plumbing, and many hoarded inanimate objects as well. "¢ 46% were more than 60 years old. "¢ Dead or sick animals were discovered in 80% of reported cases, yet in nearly 60% of cases the hoarder would not acknowledge the problem. "¢ In 69% of cases, animal feces and urine accumulated in living areas, and over one-quarter of the hoarders' beds were soiled with feces or urine.

Yecch! Very grim, but fascinating nevertheless. Given that there are as many as 2,000 new hoarding cases reported every year in the U.S. alone -- and surely we're no exception to the norm -- chances are, our readers know some of them, have met some of them, have lived next to some of them, even have grandparents who fit the bill. We want to hear about it!