Voters in Dudley, Massachusetts, passed a ballot measure last Tuesday making it illegal to own more than three cats without a special license. The caterwauling and rampaging of one female citizen's 15 cats led to many complaints from her neighbors, and served as the inciting incident for creating the new law.
In light of this ruling, Slate.com re-posted a 2005 article that asks its readers, “What's the deal with cat ladies? Are there cat gentlemen, too?”
According to Slate, we first need to define the difference between a woman (or man) who cares for several cats versus an animal hoarder.
“Animal hoarding has also been viewed as an addiction, like compulsive gambling or alcoholism, or as a form of dementia… No one knows why women are more susceptible than men. One member of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium points out that women are also more likely to become veterinarians and less likely to perform acts of animal cruelty.”
I hate the stigma of the term “cat lady,” but Slate highlighted two pieces of damning evidence:
- Not all animal hoarders are cat ladies, but most are. The typical person who gets caught with more pets than she can handle is a woman over the age of 60 who lives alone.
- They found that two-thirds of the obsessive collectors were women and that 70 percent were single.
But wanting and doing are two totally separate things. I consider how my cats would feel, how much food I can afford, how much attention I can share equally and how much actual space I have… These are things that hoarders don’t seem to consider.
So, how many cats really IS too many? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!