Police and SPCA officials in Seaside, California raided two properties on Tuesday after a tip from an apartment manager turned out to be connected to a residence officials were already investigating. At the apartment, rescuers found the remains of 113 dead kittens; at the residence, they found 51 alive, but neglected, adult cats. Of the rescued animals, five were currently pregnant and two required emergency surgery.
Officials say they also found 50 urns with the cremated remains of an unknown number of cats.
SPCA Sgt. Stacy Sanders says that they received a tip that the hoarder may have taken cats off the street -- including ones that belonged to others in the neighborhood. The SPCA is asking for residents with missing cats to submit pictures to the SPCA, as none of the animals that were rescued were microchipped.
Hoarding is a little-understood compulsive disorder characterized by the need to collect things and the inability to discard them. Though scientists originally thought it a subset of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), many scientists now believe they are distinct. Doctors have had mixed results treating it with medications that normally help with OCD, though many patients respond positively to cognitive behavioral therapy.
While many hoarders live in abject conditions, animal hoarders are almost twice as likely to live in refuse-strewn environments and 45 percent have living spaces coated in "profuse urine or feces."
Watch the video below, first broadcast by KGO-TC San Francisco on July 26, 2012: