A Perfect Storm

She lived alone in a tiny little house out in the country. Late one night she made a frantic 911 call stating that someone had broken into her home. Both police and emergency medical services responded. She was transported by ambulance to the hospital where the EMTs relayed a disturbing story to the medical staff.

Her living conditions were horrific. The house was in complete disarray, was filthy, and reeked with the smell of feces and ammonia. She was a “collector” suffering from dementia. The toilet had stopped working long ago and an overflowing bucket was her answer to her plumbing problems. The EMTs also reported that 15 cats were living in these dreadful conditions with her.

Fearing for the lives left behind, the nurse on duty made a concerned call to AniMeals a little after midnight. She knew this woman was not going to be going home again.

We were escorted onto the property by the local police who remained outside. Having already been in the house, the officer did not want to relive it. Hit in the face by the wall of stench, it took a mighty effort to walk through the front door. We should have been wearing Hazmat suits, booties and respirators. A male cat was mounting one of the females in the middle of the floor. There were fresh pools of diarrhea behind the wood stove. Dirty dishes and garbage covered every square inch of counter space. There were soiled clothes stacked to the ceiling and everything was covered in a thick layer of fecal dust.

If there was a silver lining anywhere, it was that only nine cats resided there and they were in remarkably good health considering their environment. It was obvious that she loved her cats as they were the only things that were taken care of. All were well fed and social.

People suffering from dementia experience a progressive decline in the ability to reason. Judgment, memory, concentration and coordination decreases; add to that the denial that seems to be a large part of the psychological makeup of a hoarder and you have the perfect storm creating situations such as these.

In the end “Virginia” was released from the hospital to the custody of her son and they moved out of state. All off the nine cats we rescued were adopted and living in their forever homes.