Example 1: Mistaken Identity – Cat Lady, not a Pet Hoarder


Mrs. Cruz is proud to be the cat lady of her neighborhood

Mrs. Cruz is a 79-year old Hispanic woman who lives alone. Her husband died 4 years ago. When her husband was alive they had 2 cats. Since his death, she began having more and more cats because she is lonely. She now has 12 cats. Cats have become her hobby.

Unfortunately, the cats have also become the neighborhood’s problem. The neighbors say that the cats are noisy at night because of cat fights. The cats always seen around the neighborhood unattended.

One of the neighbors called Adult Protective Services (APS) because she thinks Mrs. Cruz has self-neglect and is hoarding animals.

Adult Protective Services visited Mrs. Cruz the next day. It happened to be the day she grooms her cats. Her clothes were dirty and full of hair, but she was still wearing the earrings and necklace that her husband gave her before he died. Although the backyard was like a cat circus, the rest of the house was spotless. APS found Mrs. Cruz to be of sound mind. She knew each cat’s names and breed. She talked constantly about how she came to own each cat and what was each cat’s favorite food.

It was clear that Mrs. Cruz was just a big cat lover. She was surprised to hear about the neighbors’ complaints, since several of the cats were offspring of neighbors’ cats. In any case, she said that she would cage the cats at night so that they do not wander and cause fights. All of the cats were already spayed and/or neutered.

Why She is Not a Pet-Hoarder?

Animal hoarding can certainly occur with self-neglect (Day & McCarthy, 2016; Nathanson, 2009). However, individuals that hoard animals do not care for them appropriately (Peak, Ascione, & Doney, 2012).  They will not feed, groom, vaccinate, exercise, or shelter their animals. Animal-lovers, on the other hand, take pride in their pets. They know the pets names and feed them daily. They shelter them and always know were they are at all times.


Day M. R. & McCarthy, G. (2016) Animal Hoarding: A Serious Public Health Issue. Annuals of Nursing and Practice 3(4) 1054 http://www.jscimedcentral.com/Nursing/nursing-3-1054.pdf

Nathanson, J. N. (2009). Animal hoarding: slipping into the darkness of comorbid animal and self-neglect. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect21(4), 307-324.

Peak, T., Ascione, F., & Doney, J. (2012). Adult protective services and animal welfare: should animal abuse and neglect be assessed during adult protective services screening? Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect24(1), 37-49.

Last updated: June 7, 2020 at 16:44 pm by
I. M. Abumaria, Doctor of Nursing Practice
Version 2.00