I am a cat person. Love 'em. But I will NEVER be these people. (And many thanks to Julia for sending this my way!)
Dead Cats Hear No Screams/House smell a little sour? Hear strange mewling in the walls? Maybe you, too, can be a crazy cat lady...
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
So you'd think if you lived in a densely populated town in Virginia and were 58 years old and spent a good number of your postmenopausal years hoarding feral cats to the point where you finally reached a grand total of 88 diseased and inbred felines all flopped like used rags around your house, well, you'd think you might have accomplished something just a little special. Especially if 29 of your cats happened to be, you know, dead, and your neighbors finally complained of the smell so aggressively that the cops and animal control finally showed up, and they knocked on your door and you opened it and the Great Wall of Cat Stench hit them and they exclaimed oh my freaking God what the hell is going on here?And hence they hauled away all the diseased feral cats and charged you with animal neglect and went so far as to condemn your house and kick you out because of all the toxins and bacteria and animal waste and just overall reeking grossness -- well, you'd think you might at least win the award for Creepy Sad Cat Lady of the Month. Right?
Alas, you would be wrong. Because then you discover that, just down the road in Burke, Virginia, a woman 25 years your senior, a woman named Ruth Kneuven, clocking it at 82 years old, has managed to rack up a staggering total of not 100, not 200, not even 300, but over 420 diseased feral cats (some reports put the number closer to 500) spread over two separate homes. And a whopping 100 of her cats are dead (that's more than you had, alive or dead!), and the dead ones are stuck in plastic bags and in bins and jammed behind walls and lodged between the decaying brickwork all over the house, and the stench became so otherworldly that the cops and animal control finally came and hauled away all her cats, too. And they condemned both disgusting houses and told Ruth and her husband and her daughter to leave ASAP, or else, thus completely obliterating your otherwise very impressive accomplishment.
And now you're all, like, oh man, what was I thinking? My collection of 88 cats was so lame! A pittance! Child's play! I am ashamed and humbled and I stand in awe of Ruth Kneuven's creepy sad crazy-cat-lady greatness!And what's more, that Ruth woman had a husband and a daughter living with her, among all those reeking cats! A triple-threat of creepy weird sadness! Amazing!
It is then that it strikes you that 82-year-old Ruth Kneuven from Burke,Virginia, had the advantage of a whole extra house, thus giving her far more room to pack in far more inbred mangy cats than you, 58-year-old Jane Baldinger of Falls Church, Virginia, and she could build her morbid collection with ease and just stuff the little diseased fur balls into every nook and cranny and cupboard space and domestic orifice, thus making you scream "unfair advantage!" in a strange cackling mewling voice, and rightly so.
But it is too late. The cats have consumed your soul, your psyche, your tongue. You cannot emerge from your dystopian cat nightmare and this is a grand shame indeed, because it means you won't be able to take a long and stupefied gander just across the proverbial street at the famous Internet-fueled tale of yet another world-class hoarder, one who is just like you only, you know, completely different.You cannot, in your distressed cat dementia, know the legend of the CrazyeBay Mom.
Oh my yes, Crazy eBay Mom. She is your soul sister, your comrade incollectibles, the flip side of the same disquieting little coin. But she is not, as you are, a collector of a simply lethal array of sickly and inbred cats, but rather, she is a bizarre and inexplicable gatherer of mountains and mountains of stuff. Crazy eBay Mom. Hers is story that's been making the Net rounds for oh, about four years now. We do not know her name. We do not know where she lives. Hers is a tale told by her laid-back and perpetually confused son, a kid who took it upon himself to document, in over 100 photos and hilariously deadpan captions, his home, his odd life, his wildly OCD hoarding mother, her piles and mountains and stacks of crap. Christmas crap. Glass crap. Kitsch crap. Cookware crap and dishes crap and toys crap and magazines crap and hundreds (thousands?) of well-taped boxes of crap from years of obsessive buying on eBay that haven't even been opened yet, packages that nevertheless have been added to one of the huge yet neatly stacked piles of unendurable massively cluttered insanely claustrophobic crap, floor to ceiling and wall to wall and covering every counter and cupboard and every shower and drawer and table and every possible cranny, blocking out the light and stifling joy, and if you have never seen these photos, you must look and be amazed.
And then maybe, in your investigations, you discover that this sort of obsessive hoarding is, in fact, a popular enough subset of the OCD affliction that it's a rather fascinating psychological condition unto itself, and furthermore many cities and counties in the nation appear to have some sort of hoarding task force and/or informational Web site about, say, how to distinguish a true hoarder from people who are merely annoying sloths who never take out the garbage (hint: true hoarders never recognize any sort of problem) and that animal hoarding is actually a certified and slightly disgusting subset of the OCD hoarding compulsion and you're finally like, oh holy hell.
It's just so true, isn't it? How we just have no freaking idea what the hell people are doing out there, over there, just down the street and just next door and just behind those closed doors and that creepy cat lady or that crazy eBay mom could be, of course, your mom, your grandma, your sister ... or, of course, it could be you. Yes, you. It is enough, I know, to make you shudder. Recoil. Scream out your feline revelation. And yet, no one can hear you scream, because you are, in fact, dreaming, and in your dream you are wearing a huge ungainly cat suit, and it's hot and smelly and something is amiss and you realize you are wandering around some strange reeking house and you are stepping over just an insane number of piles of dried cat waste and everything smells like rotten asparagus. And there are about a million other cats there and most of them are dead and the rest look deranged and insane and are silently screaming for help and pawing at the windows and praying for quick cat death. And you look up and there is this woman walking toward you, and she's in a massive pink housedress covered in mysterious stains and wearing a creepy sad grin, and you're like no, wait ... no, no, it can't be ... no, no, NOOOOO!