Helping Hoarder Houses: Update on the Creole Colony

Last week Tanya took three more cats from Danny’s house to be TNR’d at the clinic. So far we have TNR’d 14 adult cats from inside and outside of his house, and admitted five kittens into a shelter.


This latest round of three cats came from his enclosed back porch. This is a tiny slice of what it looks like. There is no heat or air conditioning back there. I don’t know if the windows are ever opened. IMG_0761

Fat Tabby, male, and totally friendly. IMG_1206

Pretty Girl, female and pregnant. IMG_1197

And Buffalo, male, with some untreated conjunctivitis and a very infected canine tooth. He was sent home with l-lysine, and we were advised he needed additional medical treatment. IMG_1213

I came with Tanya to drop the cats back off. Danny was prepared to put them back onto that same back porch.


Rudy showed up while we were talking to Danny. His conjunctivitis looked much worse than when we first TNR’d him. IMG_1221

Which led to a discussion about the care and medical treatment needed for the cats. Danny is still not willing to relinquish any indoor cats. Even if he was willing, we have nowhere to take them. I have asked several organizations so far for help.


During this talk, Danny mentioned kittens on the back porch, which was news to us. In addition, he said there were eight cats in his kitchen. We figured out three of those cats were most likely the cats we took in for TNR the previous time, but the remaining five cats were a mystery.


Also, Princess, the feral mama cat that used to be outside, was now also in his house, specifically in the room with Rudy. Obviously she was going to get sick from Rudy.


Danny said we could NOT spay or neuter all of the cats in the kitchen. Especially two or three cats that he kept referring to. We were not allowed to see these cats. We are still not allowed to see the “three cats” he also keeps referring to on the second floor.


Tanya and I assumed he did not want us to see the kitchen cats because they were pregnant.


It turned out we were very wrong. It’s worse than that.


Based on this conversation, Heather and I decided to visit Danny again on Friday night.


We were there for three hours, and it really did not go well overall, but some progress was made. Danny was very upset when we walked up because I was carrying a folder. I believe he thought the folder was perhaps some sort of correspondence complaining about his house. I have no idea, and of course I have no authority to do that. The folder was just all of the photos I’ve printed out of the cats that we know about so far, listing their medical conditions, so that we knew which cat we were talking about and to avoid confusion. Obviously Danny still does not trust us at all. It is also obvious now he has dealt with complaints about his house in the past, and people have been in there. He said he knew we were “investigating” and looking at everything in his house, which is why we’re not allowed inside anymore. In reality, all we have been looking for so far is the cats. Until Friday, we have never commented on anything else in his house.


During this conversation, the other outdoor mama cat we had our eye on obviously had her kittens again because she was now skinny. She laid around outside and checked us out almost the entire time we were there, but we have no idea where her kittens are. At least two other outdoor cats also came by during this time that we had not seen before. IMG_1293

Danny showed us the other indoor kittens on the back porch. There are six total, although it’s hard to see the tortie and black kittens in this photo. They are sitting on a garbage bag filled with leaves. Danny said they were born in the bag. He insisted on climbing up on an eight foot ladder balanced against a wall to turn on the light. I was scared the entire time he was going to fall off this ladder.

IMG_1294 Mama is feral and carefully watched us the entire time. IMG_1301

They are all next to this litter box. IMG_1296

All of the litter boxes and the entire back porch looks like this.


This is when the conversation started to go south. Danny showed Heather the other cats on the back porch, admitting that one was actually born there, and lived there his entire life there. When I saw that cat, he was hiding up in the rafters. This story pretty much destroyed me.


There may be more than one cat like that. This is the one I think he was talking about. IMG_0758

At this point, we have TNR’d three cats from the back porch. There are at least two or three more cats to be TNR’d from there, as well as the six kittens, that we know of. For now, he has agreed to relinquish the six kittens when they are weaned.


Then we started asking again about the cats in the rest of the house. For now, Danny will admit to three cats on the second floor. We have never seen the second floor, and so far, according to Danny, we never will, because it is “his” house. He has admitted to three cats up there, all of which were his brother’s cats. His brother died several years ago. We have no idea what the second floor looks like. We have no idea what those 3+ cats look like.


As for the cats on the main floor, Danny mentioned there are eight cats in the kitchen. I still have not seen the kitchen, and did not react positively to the news. I think there are three cats there that are now fixed.


But the remaining cats are not pregnant as we feared.


On Friday, Danny admitted that they are sick. We have no idea what that means because so far he will not let us see them.


We talked to Danny for a long time on Friday night. During this talk, he was mostly very angry and even threatened to harm Heather. Heather and I have no idea if we are doing or saying the right things. We are trying to talk to him as neighbors and friends. We understand that professional help is needed at this point, but there is no help like this that we know of. I have learned that while working on other hoarder projects here, because believe me, I’ve reached out to other organizations. In fact, these kinds of projects are REFERRED TO ME. I have not written too much about those other projects until now because they are emotionally exhausting and have consumed me. This is way beyond than what the average person should be doing on their own, and I’m hopeful in the future that some day there will be professional help for these situations. I’m very thankful to have Heather trying to help this entire time. I could not do this without her. The only organization that deals with hoarders locally that I could find online is this task force that was formed in Elgin. We definitely need a Cook County Hoarding Task Force.


Danny has admitted a lot of things to us that are very concerning. He believes he is doing the best for these cats, including whether they live or die in his house. He can not/will not afford to take the cats for medical care. They are “better off” dying in his house. We don’t know what that means because he will not elaborate. He has buried all of the cats that have died in his care in his backyard. He told us he will continue taking in any friendly cats from outside into his home.


Despite everything we have tried, he does not trust us, and fights us every step of the way. At the same time, he still answers the phone when we call, still opens the gate when we arrive, and still agrees to relinquish any kittens to us.


Admittedly, he feeds the cats regularly. That is pretty common with habitual feeders. But he believes the cats are better off in his care. As an example, he yelled at us about the feral mom and kittens that Tanya fostered for him because they were in a dog crate. He believes cages are cruel. He did not agree when we pointed out that his entire back porch is a filthy “cage” that the cats are trapped in, and that the kittens in a crate were better off than kittens born in a plastic garbage bag filled with garbage.


I am hopeful that today Danny will let us pick up and take the two to three cats from his kitchen as planned for vetting. It remains to be seen what will happen.


Along with the cats, Danny is completely overwhelmed by his job, which consists of various heavy manual labor, underpaid “handyman” projects. He is of retirement age but said he needs to keep working because of the cats. In addition, he is caring for his 92-year old mother who has bedridden and has cancer. She lives in this house with him and the cats. So asides from the problems with the cats, there are many other issues that require help from mental health professionals.


Keep in mind we live fairly close to Danny, and are trying to reach out to him as neighbors. I actually ran into Danny at the grocery store over the weekend after this talk. He was not pleased to see me, even though I just asked how he was doing, etc. After some small talk, he was the one who brought up the subject of the cats, and was very defensive. He kept saying that he will pay for any vetting and that he does not need “handouts.” He obviously does not see me as a friend who wants to help, and I’m not sure what else to do about that.


When Heather called him last night to remind him about our vet appointment, all he did was scream at her and make excuses. He no longer wants to bring the cats to the clinic himself. But Heather was still was able to convince him that she will pickup the cats herself then.


In the meantime, we are so grateful for your support. Thank you to all for your kind word and support, and who have donated to help us help Danny, including Erin G, Lora M, Ingrid H, Joann S, Danielle G, Maryann C, Susanne K, Lisa M, Madonna I, Liz B, Kati E, Susan K, Debra R, Susan W, and Nancy H, and as always thanks to Dorota Z, Carlin R, Ben M, and Barb G for their continued monthly support.


If you have any experience with hoarders, or have any questions about this project, or would like to help, please contact me at [email protected]



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