Owning more than the typical number of companion cats is one of the four main signs of feline hoarding. Having an unusual number of cats does not make a hoarder alone, though. Hoarding is poles apart from sheltering, which can also lead to someone having loads of cats. A hoarder is incapable of providing for the care of his/her cats. They may be underfed or under-watered, filthy, ill or injured from overcapacity. In many cases, the cats may die from the poor care they are receiving. A hoarder has a troubled psychology which makes him/her need to control many cats but not capable of giving proper care to them.
A central feature of any type of hoarding is a sullied, chaotic living space. A hoarder's home can be anywhere from difficult to pilot to downright unlivable, but with cat hoarders, the scene can be particularly dismal. A cat hoarder's house is likely to have quite a bit of feline waste lying around and the stench of too many cats in too small a space. Many feline hoarders also hoard inanimate objects, so the house may also be cluttered with trash, old newspapers and other objects.
Hoarders tend to have poor perception of their own actions or impulses. They will believe that they are caring effectively for their felines despite all confirmation to just the opposite. They may cut themselves off communally from other people and feel mistreated by outsiders who don't appreciate their hoarding actions. They may be in poor health themselves, powerless to care for their own bodies any more than they can for their cats. On the other hand, hoarders may veil their behavior well and live a double life, appearing comparatively normal from the outside.