18 Cats Found in Abandoned Camper in 'Worst Case' of Hoarding in City History

Rhode Island's Providence Animal Control came across 18 cats in an abandoned camper and has called it the worst case of animal hoarding seen to date.

Now, they're calling for community support to get the supplies that the cats desperately need to treat a number of conditions.

"Walking up to this camper cramped with 18 neglected cats is the stuff of nightmares, catching them in the midst of ammonia levels so high you are ill for days afterward, is the reality," read a Facebook post published by the Providence Animal Control Center. "ALL of these cats are flea-ridden, filled with worms, thin, some emaciated, they also have RINGWORM."

The center is asking for supplies like newspaper, bleach, litter boxes and canned cat food, and they said that donations could be dropped off at the center.

"These cats have a long road ahead (and we have a lot of work to do!)," the post continued. "This is a horrible case, the [worst] we have ever seen to date and we do see a lot of hoarding."

The center claimed that the hoarding took place in the neighborhood for three years, starting in a home, and urged people to come forward and file a report if they suspect an animal hoarding case.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, animal hoarding is a complex topic that covers mental health, animal welfare and public safety.

Animal hoarding is defined by the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium as an individual owning more than the typical number of companion animals, the individual unable to provide the minimal standards of pet care and the individual in denial of their inability to provide that care.

The ASPCA wrote that while early research suggested animal hoarding may stem from a variant of obsessive-compulsive disorders, there are new theories that suggest there may be other factors to consider, including attachment disorders with personality disorders, paranoia, delusional thinking, depression and other mental illnesses.

"Some animal hoarders began collecting after a traumatic event or loss, while others see themselves as 'rescuers' who save animals from lives on the street," the article reads.

Although animal hoarders may see themselves as saving an animal's life, the state of their home is often unsuitable for these pets. ASPCA noted that the home has deteriorated, there is a strong smell of ammonia, floors may be covered with dried feces, urine or vomit, animals are emaciated, fleas and vermin can be found in the dwelling space and there are clear signs of distress and illness in the animals.

A representative for Providence Animal Control was not available for comment at press time.

Cat Hoarding
Animal control in Providence, Rhode Island is working to rehabilitate 18 cats that were found in an abandoned camper. AFP Contributor/Getty Images