Women who 'rescue' and hoard cats or other animals may show genuine concern, but could be actually harming their health.
According to Dr. Christiana Bratiotis, the project director of the Hoarding Research Project at Boston University's School of Social Work, hoarders are usually women - not married, middle aged or older, and socially isolated from relatives and friends.
"Animal hoarders label themselves as rescuers," The New York Daily News quoted her as telling msnbc.com.
"Because of their mental illness, they have a very distorted belief that they are the person best suited to provide care for the animals," Bratiotis said.
"They're reluctant to place their animals in another person's care, despite the fact they're not well-fed or getting adequate veterinary care. They believe they're doing well by the animals," she added.
But dogs, birds, horses, rabbits, rodents, reptiles and sheep also have been hoarded.
If the animals aren't getting adequate food and medical care, and if you can't keep the animals' mess cleaned up, you've simply got too many, Bratiotis said.