The story gives a new and more sobering meaning to “cathouse.” An obviously depraved woman living in Schoharie County, N.Y., is the subject of scrutiny by both police and mental health experts after authorities discovered 67 dead cats in plastic bags in her freezer and 99 others in crates stacked floor-to-ceiling in unsanitary conditions.
Authorities who had visited her house on Route 146 in its wretchedly befouled state — it was condemned and deemed unfit for human occupancy — said that she seemed to fit the profile of a hoarder. The excessive collecting of items, frequently animals, is also called compulsive hoarding syndrome. It is a psychological affliction often related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. In severe forms, psychological treatment is recommended.
The article notes that Vandyke, who lives alone, refused requests by animal shelter workers and mental health professionals to surrender any of the cats. Those who know her have speculated that the sudden death of her husband in 2010 might have precipitated her “cat warehousing” habit.
Kerrie Colin, who manages the Animal Shelter of Schoharie in Howes Cave, told reporters that she knew about Vandyke's cat crisis two years ago and tried different approaches to help her. "The minute anyone tried to take her cats,” Colin said, “she freaked out and threw them off her property. She definitely had a hoarder mentality. She's not a horrible person. She just needs help and counseling."
During the process of removing the dead cats and relocating the living ones to shelters, where they will receive medical treatment, deputies wore respiratory gear against the choking stench. Vandyke is reported to have accepted the fate of her menagerie without complaint
Sheriff Tony Desmond said, "She was very rational and spoke intelligently" as she explained that she had spent “most of the money she made on food, cat litter and medicine."
Colin said that the 99 cats were doing relatively well. All have been given antibiotics, deworming, and flea treatments.
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