How Many Cats Is Too Many? When Does Helping Become Hoarding?

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I was watering my postage-stamp-sized Brooklyn garden one morning last spring when a white-bibbed cat peeked out from under my azalea bush. As I weeded, the cat napped in the sun, eventually sauntering over to press himself against my ankle. Clearly, this was no skittish street cat.

When I was finished, he marched up the steps alongside me, fully expecting to be let inside. That night, I noticed he'd slipped under the gate to the basement and curled up beside the door. After three days of this, I deduced he was either lost or recently deposited on the curb, which meant I had to find him proper shelter.

As the cat-allergic owner of two dogs, adopting him myself was not an option. After unsuccessfully trying to convince several (cold-hearted) cat folk in my life that he'd make a fine pet, a neighbor suggested I call a woman who ran a local cat-rescue program. She came highly recommended. At the least, I figured she'd be able to suggest some no-kill centers.

Helping or Hoarding?
When she answered the phone, the woman sounded flustered, but I chalked it up to the kid screaming in the background. Almost immediately, she said she could come by within an hour, but she needed to talk to her husband first. "I'm currently fostering eight cats and we have four of our own," she said. "But I'm sure he'll be fine with it. Let me call you back."

Once I hung up, I started to do the math: One New York City apartment + three humans + 12 cats = CRAZY. Or does it?

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