Question: I have heard it said that the extreme collection of live animals, such as the cliche about the “little old lady with her 50 cats,” is a form of Hoarding OCD. Can anyone address this idea? A relative of mine does this.
Answer 1: The accumulation of large numbers of cats or less commonly dogs may represent a form of hoarding which in turn is usually part of OCD. Hoarding can occur in other disorders and even when it occurs in the context of OCD it seems somewhat different from other forms of OCD. If your relative seems to fit the cliche of “the little old lady with 50 cats” there is a good chance she has OCD. Hoarding in general is a difficult form of the disorder to treat often because the person with the problem is very unmotivated to do anything. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Answer 2: There can be quite a variety of reasons why people hoard things, OCD being only one of them. It is likely that a percentage of people who hoard animals do have true OCD, but it would take a good clinical evaluation to determine if this were so for a particular individual. In any case, I think that people who collect great numbers of animals can often risk the health of the animals and themselves, and in such cases certainly need help. Best regards.