From houses crammed full of cats to mountains of garbage, hoarding can take many different forms. While some hoarders may be able to keep their homes relatively tidy, others live in complete squalor, with piles of trash and debris taking over every inch of their living space. In extreme cases, hoarders can become so isolated that they never leave their homes, instead opting to live amongst the clutter.
While most of us can probably relate to holding onto things we don’t need and letting our homes get a little messy from time to time, hoarding is a serious problem that can have detrimental effects on both the hoarder and those around them. In honor of Hoarding Awareness Week, we are counting down the top 10 craziest hoarding cases worldwide.
#10: The Cat Lady’s House
In 2014, a woman in Massachusetts was found dead inside her home, which was crammed with more than 170 cats. The woman, who was in her 60s, had lived with the cats for years. Authorities believe that the overpowering smell of urine and feces within the house had a part in the woman’s death. All of the cats were removed from the home and later put up for adoption.
#9: The Pigeon Lady’s House
This New York City apartment was once home to more than 200 pigeons. The birds had free reign of the apartment, and their droppings covered every inch of the place, including the bed where the older woman used to sleep. A team of 20 workers spent two days cleaning up the apartment and removing all of the pigeons. The woman was placed in a nursing home following the incident.
#8: The House Full of Garbage
In 2013, authorities in Japan discovered a house so full of garbage that only narrow paths existed between towering mountains of trash. The hoarder, who lived with her husband and son, had been collecting junk for 30 years without ever throwing any of it away. It took 22 truckloads to remove all of the rubbish from the house.
#7: The House Full of Dolls
This Texas home had over 1,000 dolls, many of which had been left outside to rot in the rain and heat. Some dolls were found hanging from nooses, while others were found chained up or mutilated. Investigators believe that the homeowner may have been suffering from mental illness.
#6: The House Full of Feces
In 2012, authorities in California discovered a home where the hoarder had been hoarding feces for years. The piles of waste reached up to four feet high in some areas, and the stench was so overwhelming that it made it difficult for investigators to even enter the house. The hoarder, a 68-year-old man, was placed in a psychiatric facility following the incident.
#5: The House Full of Dead Animals
In 2013, authorities discovered a home in Florida filled with more than 100 dead animals, including dogs, cats, birds, and reptiles. Many animals appeared to have died from neglect, and some were found stuffed inside freezers. The hoarder, a 62-year-old woman, was charged with animal cruelty and placed in a mental health facility.
#4: The House Full of Dead Cats
In 2009, authorities discovered the body of a hoarding victim buried underneath piles of garbage and dead cats in a Massachusetts home. The hoarder, who lived alone, had been hoarding for years and was eventually unable to reach the door to let anyone in. Neighbors reported a foul stench emanating from the house before authorities discovered the body and removed more than 100 dead cats from the premises.
#3: The House Full of Doll Parts
In 2014, a hoarder in California was found living amongst thousands of doll parts and mannequins. The hoarder, who lived alone, had been collecting doll parts for years and had filled every inch of the house with them. It took authorities over a week to clean the home and remove all the dolls.
#2: The House Full of Paper
In Washington state in 2013, a hoarder was discovered residing in a house covered in stacks and stacks of paper. The piles reached up to seven feet high in some areas, making it difficult for the hoarder to even move around the house. A team of 40 workers worked for three weeks to thoroughly clean the house and remove all of the paper.
#1: The House Full of Dead Bodies
In 2014, authorities in Arizona discovered a horrific scene inside a hoarder’s home: nine dead bodies, some in advanced stages of decomposition, among piles of garbage and trash. A 59-year-old man is thought to have kept the remains of his family members who had passed away throughout the years and continued to hoard things around them. He was charged with nine counts of concealing a dead body.
Hoarding can be difficult to manage, and if left unchecked, it can have devastating consequences. One of the most serious risks associated with hoarding is the potential for fire. Piles of clutter can quickly become combustible, and if a fire does break out, it can be very difficult to extinguish due to the amount of material present. In addition, hoarders are at an increased risk of falls and other injuries due to the cluttered state of their homes. Failing to address the problem can also lead to social isolation and mental health decline. Hoarding may seem harmless, but it can have serious consequences if not properly managed.
People with hoarding disorder excessively save items because they believe these items will be useful or have sentimental value. Hoarded items clutter living spaces, making it difficult to use furniture, appliances, or even walk through the home. People with hoarding disorder may also feel overwhelmed by their belongings or feel a strong need to control them. While it is not always easy to spot the signs of hoarding, there are some tell-tale symptoms to look out for:
- Excessive clutter in the home, to the point where rooms become unusable
- Difficulty throwing away possessions, even items that appear useless
- Strong attachment to possessions, even things of little value
- Distress at the thought of getting rid of possessions
If you or someone you know displays these symptoms, it may be time to seek professional help. Many treatment options are available for hoarding disorder, and with early intervention, people can learn to live more manageable lives.