Felonious Cat


Slate reports:

A Virginia judge declared on Monday that 82-year-old Ruth Knueven is unfit to own pets, after animal-control officers seized her 488 cats. Local law enforcement and animal-control officials say they found 120 cats in her house in 2001 and that they've discovered several other cat hoarders in the area over the past year.

Not, perhaps, as worrisome as the Kelo verdict, but in cases where no animals are harmed, I wonder, what is the libertarian response to the government prohibiting even unsanitary, claustrophobic private cat-keeping?

Perhaps, insofar as "animal hoarding has also been viewed as an addiction, like compulsive gambling or alcoholism, or as a form of dementia," it should be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Post article here. And did you know there was a Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium?

NEXT: Papa Was a Rolling Stone (Emphasis-on-Was Edition)

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  1. Animals kept in unsanitary, claustrophobic conditions are being harmed.

  2. I kind of agree with joe on this one. Would pro-animal hoarders be singing the same tune if it were humans being kept in unsanitary, claustrophobic conditions? Methinks no.

  3. I’m going to have to go with joe on this one. If the cruelty to animals laws are to be worth anything, then a house with 200 dead cats in it is worth looking into.
    Of course, they put all the living animals to sleep, soo…
    Hoarding is a very real phenomenon (Begin Mental health arguing now). I’ve seen the effects with my own two eyes (We have a “hoarding task force” here).
    FWIW, this ladies’ neighbors could smell the feces, urine and dead cat bodies. I’m all for property rights, but man that had to be a serious stink.

  4. There are people who support animal hoarding?

  5. You all, of course, realize that this will open up a floodgate of suits involving “improper pussy care”.

    (wait a sec – Ruth’s real name is “Pussy Galore”, isn’t it…)

  6. Full disclosure: I used to be a cat-breeder. I know more about this issue than one might think.

  7. Full disclosure: I took my name from a cartoon cat’s tiny toy teddybear. I’ll be damned if I and my kind will be covered in the urine and feces of myriad mangy cats.

  8. Seems to me there is a legit public health issue here.

  9. There is simply no way a single person can care properly for that many cats.

    The worst I’ve ever personally seen was a friend’s house, when I was in junior high. His family had 10 cats; they’d wanted their female (still fertile) cat to have babies. For a couple of months, while they weaned the kittens, their house was nearly unlivable.

    Now, I don’t support generic one-size-fits-all pet restriction laws. My mother is technically in violation because she has 4 cats and 1 dog; her pets are happy, healthy, and well-cared-for.

    But there is a reasonable limit after which one person cannot care for the animals. I feel overwhelmed by 2 cats sometimes; I imagine that around 6 or 8, the average person would be unable to cope with the cats. Past 10 or 12, unless the person is a cat breeder who spends significant time caring for the cats, there’s just no way.

    But I’d base that judgement on living conditions, not on numbers. If someone has, for instance, a barn, and are raising their cats as outdoor cats, they can probably care for far more animals than someone in a double-wide trailer.

  10. Cat hoarding is both a cruelty to animals issue and a public health issue and a public nuisance issue. (And I am all in favor of local governments issuing Public Nuisance tickets for things like loud noises, bad smells, and aggressive solicitation, where someone complains.)
    In many cases, the neighbors have been complaining for some time about the stench. And the animals are found to be in very poor condition. There are animal wastes on the floor and dead animals often lying around. This breeds disease. I’m sorry; this is not a libertarian issue because it falls under the heading of “your fist…my nose.”

  11. what is the libertarian response to

    Whenever I see this question I ask: does there have to be just one?

    Animal rights are certainly debatable within the libertarian sphere. Depends mainly on where one decides to draw the line regarding autonomy that humans ought to respect and autonomy it need not.

    Most libs wouldn’t support killing another person just to eat them when there’s plenty of other food around; and some might use the same reasoning to argue that vegan-ism is the way to go.

    They might argue that certain animals have an amount of autonomy, and that people are only different in how complex their thoughts are, but that this complexity in itself is not enough to put us in a different moral class.

    Not sure that a libertarian is necessarily committed to any particular view regarding whether its ok to eat dogs but not to smush flies; or whether its ok to abort humans at 2 weeks, or 3 months, or what have you.

  12. Cats, or any pets for that matter, kept in those types of conditions, are a hazard to everyone. There are many recent examples of diseases jumping from one species to another. I wonder if anyone would defend a large extended family–say 200 or so–living under the same roof’s right to piss and defecate on themselves and on their immediate property in a thickly populated area. Would we even be having this discussion. Cue the gong for this one and lets move on.

  13. My friend’s mother is a Vet who cares for Samuel Dalembert’s (Sixers center) cats. He has 13. Now, I guess he’s got the money, but I don’t see how professional athlete has the time to take care of so many cats. Apparently he’s in the vets several times a week.

    More on topic, at a certain point the number of cats leads to real health issues. It’s very unsanitary and cruel to the animals. Not to mention the mental problems of hoarders, who often live with their shades drawn to protect their “stash” from prying eyes. I’m no fan of zero-tolerance laws, but I think 488 crosses any line one could draw.

  14. but in cases where no animals are harmed, I wonder, what is the libertarian response to the government prohibiting even unsanitary, claustrophobic private cat-keeping?

    My libertarian response: fuck that. Do I feel the health of my family and my property value–which, per Kelo, is all-important since prop value determines taxes and taxes determine whether my house is condemned–should be at risk because of an insane neighbor? No more than if my neighbor was some guy running a butcher shop out of his house.

  15. My neighbors fish aquarium is over loaded with fish, algae growing so bad on the tank you can’t see through it, and he has allowed dead fish to float on top until all the other fishies consume it. When you walk into his house, you get a whiff of old stagnant pond water. He even mixed in South American Cichlids with some angel fish until the aggressive cichlids killed off the angels.

    what is the libertarian response

    Avoid going into his house until the aquarium is clean!

    Its either that or someday we have an agency that is required by law to periodically inspect homes for pet hoarding with the homeowner having to pay the inpection costs directly or indirectly. If health issues come from such pet hoarding, I believe we have a gammit of laws already on the books to handle this.

  16. What’s the libertarian response?

    Well…public tax dollars went to enforcing the issue.

    No doubt public tax dollars went toward the disposal of the dead animals and (perhaps) the euthanization of many of the others (conclusions drawn since it’s almost impossible to give away cats because there are so many of them that the humane society kills millions of them every year).

    And since the SLATE article where Melanie got most of her information inidicates the lady probably has some serious mental issues…

    And since this is undoubtedly a public health (physical and mental) issue that affects many people.

    I say the libertarian response is to bill the old lady (or her negligent family members) for the cost.

    If any bady raises a ruccus, tell if they want to bitch they have to take a cat.

  17. Good one madpad. It would be especially appropriate to bill the family in this case, as it was apparently a family affair. The old lady managed to get some number of the cats away from the authorities after their first run at the house and take them to her daughter’s who was also found to be a cat-hoarder.
    This happened right near my house so I’ve been following it for a while.

  18. Did Jesse Walker help with the title for this post?

  19. Perhaps they could give some of the cats to Hulk Hogan

  20. Isn’t animal hoarding just another form of tyranny?

    At least that’s what I wrote about the topic on my blog:

    “To paraphrase Camus, it would seem that the welfare of pets can often prove to be the alibi of tyrants”…

  21. Given that most of these hoarding cases that reach the public eye are discovered when the side effects become egregious enough to impact the neighbors (godawful smell, etc.), I’d say, even as a libertarian, that there is a legitimate public interest here. And preventing the individual from owning other pets can be argued to be legitimate as well.

    I am, however, behind madpad’s idea of billing the cost of the effort to the person or their family, as appropriate (if the person involved is sane and / or responsible enough to be released back into the public, they also meet the criteria for being required to repay the costs.

  22. Cat hoarding is an abomination.

  23. The only good cat is a cloned cat.

  24. On the animal rights frontier, anyone familiar with the Great Ape Project? (www. greatapeproject.org)?

    These right-thinking fellows would like to include “non-human great apes within the community of equals by granting them the basic moral and legal protection that only human beings currently enjoy.”

    There is even talk of a UN Declaration enumerating the rights of each primate and possibly an Ape representative to advocate on their behalf.

    Let’s hope his name isn’t Cornelius…

  25. I regret to inform you that several hundred of those cats were indeed dead when police and animal control found them.

  26. Yeah you couldn’t swing a dead cat in that house without hitting a, uh… dead cat.

  27. hi , we have to see cats and other animals rights .
    Persian Cats

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