Buyer has 46 cats

zandraJuly 26, 2010

Minor panic attack mode atm. So the buyer comes over with her agent, our first introduction, and unplanned, as my agent was busy and her agent had lost her keybox card, someone needed to let them in. Flooring guys were coming to measure for new floors. During the course of the visit, it comes out that she "Doesn't know" how many cats she has but it's "45-46 maybe" and will the neighbors have a problem with that??.......After exchanging awkward looks with her agent I say IDK but they are pretty laid back most of them. This is a middle class neighborhood of 3 1/2 bedroom homes, so honestly, inside I'm thinking my neighbors are going to freak. More of what I'm thinking is, this buyer is totally unreliable kook who is tying me up for thirty days for nothing.

Where it stands, my home is currently in escrow final in late Aug, this buyer is cash but their offer is quite low, and she wants me to do some further yardwork that I had hoped to avoid. In addition, I am sure it is illegal to keep that many cats in this neighborhood, not to mention unethical. She insisted she keeps them humanely but mentioned they would be allowed to roam at will, and most animal hoarders believe they are doing the right thing no matter what.

Meanwhile I have a second buyer waiting, preapproved for a mortage, their offer is for full price and they seem like nice folks who are going to fix the place up, and they don't require me to do anything further, accepting it as-is. The problem with the second offer is my house is in fairly bad condition -therefore the asking price is quite reduced to begin with- and my agent says she fears the bank won't give a loan for a house in as lousy repair as this one is. My number one concern is this buyer is going to flake out on me before the close of escrow, by then I will lose the second buyer. Right now I'm thinking I should find away out of this contract. Any thoughts?

One really weird twist is I had another cash buyer, my very first offer on the home, his son ended up in jail for arson five days before close of escrow and the deal fell through. Are all cash buyers kooks? -offense, because, should all work out soon I will be a cash buyer where I'm headed, but....jeez...

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Just looked up the planning commission rules for my Co. and the total number of cats per dwelling allowed is 4. Yikes. What now...

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:22PM
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If you want out of the deal, tell the cat lady her cats will not be allowed, and watch HER back out.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:31PM
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I don't think that the seller is in a place to tell the buyer that she can't have the cats, legally speaking, and I don't believe it would be cause for canceling a contract.

It is the county/municipality's responsibility to check on such things, so one of the realtors (not the seller herself though) should mention that it is indeed illegal to keep 46 cats (if it is illegal).

That being said, as a seller, it's not really your concern what someone does with a home, or what they are going to do. Whatever happens with the cats will be her problem and the county's problem, and the neighborhoods problem.

That being said, it will be an issue with the neighbors and I can understand your frustration that this woman will be buying the house and bringing the neighborhood down and annoying all the neighbors. It's a valid concern and not one I would take lightly. I wouldn't want someone like that moving in.

If I were you, and the only thing holding you back about selling the house to her is the cats, I would look the other way, let her buy the house, and then put in an anonymous tip with animal control/police that she has 46 cats living in the house.

She is a hoarder and will continue hoarding unless authorities step in and stop her. Even after that, she will start hoarding again, most likely, and the cycle will repeat. Those poor cats. Even if you don't end up selling to her, I would tip off the authorities. Hoarding animals is a euphemism for animal abuse and neglect.

And you might be right about the bank not wanting a loan for a house that needs work; it all depends on who the lender is, if it's FHA or not, etc. You may want your realtor to talk to the potential buyer's realtor though; they may be fully aware of the fixer-upper nature of the house and they might have made sure the mortgage lender is aware, too.

It sounds like you actually have quite a bit of interest in the house, so if you are really uncomfortable selling to this woman, don't do it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 11:03PM
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Forty six cats, wow! Are you sure you heard right and it's not four to six?

If she really has that many pet cats she must be a very able cash buyer since the vet bills on that many must be enormous. I should know, since I have nine cats and two rabbits - all neutered and spayed and micro-chipped (except the rabbits) and vaccinated, etc. I suppose some people might consider me an animal collector (these were all strays), but I think it would be none of their business unless I was maintaining a colony of un-vetted, semi-feral cats.

I doubt very much that someone who was just harboring hordes of stray cats would ever be able to catch and move them all, so chances are they wouldn't all come with her. (But she may acquire more strays from neighbors who don't spay and neuter their animals or just turn their cats loose- if so, shame on them and not her!)

My advice is not to get involved in the cat issue, and not try to use it as a (concealed) reason to break the escrow contract just to try and manoeuvre to get a (possibly, but you never know) better deal wit someone else. If you don't want to do more work, then decline and let the chips fall. You may be able to keep your other offer simmering, it's only a few more weeks.

Your immediate goal should be to sell your house and nothing more, and not worry about someone else violating your local codes.
Just my two cents..

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 12:54AM
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Good post, liriodendron, and I agree with your advice.

One thing though - most people with that many cats, who are also hoarders, do not provide adequate vet care for their "pets" and also often do not spay/neuter them. It becomes a serious problem eventually because kittens inevitably happen and then most of the kittens end up being eaten or dying...I know it's horrible but it's the truth.

Nine cats is not a hoarder, especially if they are taken care of, etc. 46 is. There is a fine line. A hoarder also typically by definition does not have the resources, the mental capacity, or the desire to properly care for and treat the animals. Animal hoarding is cruelty to animals. In their zeal to save animals, they do the opposite.

It's terrible what people do sometimes. It makes me sad.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 1:14AM
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Sometimes people enter into contracts with the best of intentions, then later find that it would be mutually beneficial to terminate the contract. There is nothing wrong with that.

I think you are rightly concerned that the cat lady may eventually become a problem buyer. You have every right to tell her that you believe the county will not allow more than four cats per household. It's called free speech. Suggest she check it out for herself.

If she does ask to be let out of the contract, make sure you don't end up owing a real estate commission because the REA "found you a buyer."

Be cautious.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 7:11AM
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I looked up the regulations, it's 4 cats per household. I've had as many as 7 cats in the past at once, currently it's three. I can understand the urge to adopt strays. I'm listening to the opinions here but I have a bad feeling about this person, and yes I'm also looking out for myself. I think she's going to be flaky to deal with and yes, mess up the neighborhood after I move. I've already decided to try to back out of this. Also she actually said she "doesn't know" how many cats she had but it's "At least 45-46". Right now I'm torn about the reasons I'm doing this, on the one hand I feel just morally bad about taking her money and on the other hand backing out. I feel like I just want to report her for hoarding and give the cats a chance at a better life, or at least get someone to check up on them. Meanwhile I have this iffy but should it work out more lucrative offer in the wings. My house is priced to sell, should both offers go away I think there will be more in the future, if not I'll drop the price again and start over.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 12:17PM
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Kudos to you, liriodendron, for takinc such good care of stray cats. God bless.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 3:02PM
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Before doing anything like this, you really need to talk to a lawyer. You cannot refuse to sell to a person because of a physical or mental disability. You cannot intimidate or coerce them into backing out - eg calling (or threatening to call) authorities for an issue you have no first hand knowledge of. While you may think your intentions are good, you just cannot tell someone where they can or can't live.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 4:42PM
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You are in no way rep enforcing the law, or even telling the purchaser their cats might be in violation.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 8:35PM
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I think I would tell her that in the area, only 4 cats are allowed. That's just stating a fact.

And if you were my neighbor and sold your house to someone who moved in with 46 cats, I'd hunt you down and bring you a few dozen or so to your new home! :-)

Yikes. Actually, there was a news story here in Columbus about a lady who had 30+ cats in her house. She had them in cages in the garage, basement etc. A neighbor called animal control and they actually arrested this woman and confiscated all her cats. Sadly, only 13 of them didn't need to be euthanized due to severe mental or health issues.

I don't think this woman is doing anyone a favor and my goodness, who can take care vaccinating and the proper care, socialization of that many cats?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 9:34PM
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It would be great to tell the woman 46 cats is too much but the OP and/or her realtor can't do opens her up to a few legal issues. Like I said, if it is a concern, you can put in an anonymous tip about the woman, but do not talk to her through your realtor about the cats! It can end in disaster or a lawsuit, etc.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 10:06PM
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I guess I don't see why there's so much legal issues attached to letting someone know a documented zoning rule about how many cats you can have? She asked specifically if the neighbors would have an issue and since the buyer now knows there is a rule, wouldn't she be in more "trouble" for not disclosing that to the buyer? She doesn't have to say - hey, you're creepy. You can't have 46 cats, that's nuts. You can only have 4.

She could have her agent call the buyer's agent and tell them that the seller wasn't sure if there was a limit on how many animals you could have and when she checked she did find in fact that they limit it to 4 cats per household.

I don't see this as any different than if the buyer asked if they could park their semi out front, or if they liked to keep their grass 3 feet high, or had an interest in collecting old tires to recycle at some point. All of these things are violations in most communities and the buyer wouldn't be allowed to do these things.

Granted, it's not her job to enforce the violation, but giving the buyer a head's up that she could get in trouble with 46 cats is in my mind being kind.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 7:58AM
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I would pretend I didn't hear/know about the cats and move on with the sale. It really should be none of your concern what she does after the sale. Never in a million years would I tip off the authorities about this no matte what. Just focus on what you need to do to sell the home. Maybe she was joking, wouldn't that be something?

I know you wrote her off as crazy as soon as you heard about the cats. Now you wonder if this nut is ready/able to actually purchase a home. Just keep that opinion to your self and move forward. If the deal falls through, then move on to your back up plan as you would with any deal that falls through. It is only approx 1 month away, so things should be occurring rather quickly from this point forward.

Don't worry what your neighbors will do/think about the cats. DO NOT TELL ANY OF THEM and really just stop thinking/talking about the cats alltogether. Just focus on your sale. You don't know the facts anyway, so you could just be adding lots of false assumptions and cause a real problem for the new owner.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 9:20AM
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You're moving. You can't worry about the neighborhood you're leaving behind. You never know what the new buyer might do, nor are you responsible for their deeds.

Since the prospective buyer and agent did inquire about the acceptance of 40+ cats in the neighborhood, I would have your agent refer them to the appropriate county or city office for the local rules concerning pets and avoid any potential non-disclosure issues.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 10:36AM
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"you can put in an anonymous tip about the woman"

pretty crappy thing to do to the person who bought the house you wanted to sell...

The further you can distance yourself from this, the better.

Don't breathe a word to anybody-
not neighbors
not "authorities"

I my own self might ask buyer to sign a statement that I had made no claims as to any city ordinance & that I had advised her to check on any ordinance or any other matter that concerned her.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:17PM
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Why is it a crappy thing to do, Sylvia? If she has 46 cats, she is abusing and neglecting them. Obviously you are not aware of the terrible conditions that hoarders keep their cats in. It's a crappy thing to do to keep 46 cats, if not more. The seller mentioned it so obviously she thinks it's normal.

I agree with most posts that the OP should go ahead with the sale and not mention the cats. However, I don't see anything wrong with anonymously tipping off the authorities. The cats need to be saved and no one will know it was the OP.

I don't know why you'd ask the buyer to sign a statement. Not needed. Just finish the sail and anonymously tip the authorities off.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:04PM
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As I said, it's crappy to take someone's money & then report them.

If you're going to "tip off the authorities", do it now;
don't wait until you've got your money from the person.

& I wouldn't "tip off" authorities & count on nobody finding out that I'm the one who did it.

Seller, I repeat, it's far better for you to now know anything about this.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:34PM
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Mandatory review features sometimes doesn't prevent me from blinking!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:35PM
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-Why is it a crappy thing to do, Sylvia? If she has 46 cats, she is abusing and neglecting them.-

Why do you assume that? If you have more than what's perceived as the "Norm," why do people consider it abuse or neglect? That's ignorance. I've heard the same thing with having 5 children.

Signed-Happy living in the country with 5 children, 10 barn cats, 2 dogs, and a fish.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 2:39PM
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I'm not going to get into a conversation on animal hoarding. There is a pet debate forum for that. Do some research and you'll get an idea of the conditions animal hoarders make their "pets" live in. 46 cats in one place is either 2 things: An animal shelter or a cat hoarder.

Not to mention this person doesn't live in the *country* with a *barn*. I don't appreciate being called ignorant, either.

5 children is not "hoarding" or neglect...why would someone say that? Children are a different issue from animal hoarding.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 3:16PM
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Well anyway, after I calmed down and my agent told me the other buyer that was waiting has dropped their offer I've decided to take a wait and see attitude. Further developments are the lady is now having second thoughts due to the fact -or at least very good assumption- I told my agent that the neighbors would have an issue with that many animals here. She cancelled the two repair appraisers she had coming but she has yet to back out of the deal. Also I've learned that at least some of the cats will be kept in large and outside and the other in the garage...but no details.
Yeah I'm aware I have no legal grounds to oppose this person, just ethical ones, as I think I said. It will be my current neighbors who get to deal with that. As I said my main and admittedly selfish concern is that this person is tying up my house in escrow for nothing. This is the second time it's happened and honestly I hope she just takes it and I can get out. I'm still working on doing the work that is specified in the contract, without much hope that it will come to anything.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 4:28PM
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Ah and after reading all the posts I'm not done talking. I'm not going to report her for anything, some part of me feels I should but I suppose there is a slim chance she actually somehow takes decent care of them and frankly it's none of my business, since as you all pointed out, I'm moving away. I just hope if she is keeping the cats in bad conditions that the neighbors inheriting this mess will report her, because for all I know they won't. And, now that all this has come out and there is for example this thread about it, that I'm not legally responsible in some way. And, as an animal lover, I feel bad for the cats.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 4:41PM
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If you told *your* agent about how maybe the neighbors would have issues with the cats, how did the buyer find out? Did you give your realtor permission to communicate with the seller and/or her realtor?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 1:37PM
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Don't assume that the 40+ cats would live in pitiable squalor. While that is the more commonly-known situation, (and frequently hyped in the news) I am sure that there are other households which quietly operate with many animals, but are never problems to the neighborhood or the animals.

For instance, when I first found my two buns abandonned in a grocery parking lot on a scortching July day, I attempted to find a proper rabbit rescue organization to take them. (I do feral and problem cat rescue cases and at the time didn't think two dwarf buns would be a good combo with my keen hunters.) Unfortunately, July is prime time for dumping teen-aged (in rabbit years) former Easter Bunnies so all the shelters were filled. Through rabbit-rescue back channels I did hear of a household with more than 40 rabbits, that might have been able to take in my strays.

I visited the bunny house with reluctance thinking it might be ghastly, but I was eager to move the buns. The rabbit-house really opened my eyes. Even though most of the buns lived completely free of cages and were hopping around in literally every room, the place was neat, clean, and delightful, if a little odd.

The family had simply decided to live in what amounted to a giant rabbit hutch (the actual house) with the buns, instead of the other way around. The floors were completely bunny-proofed, and easy-clean. The furniture was chosen for bunny compatibility, or protected, There were low barriers at every doorway to keep the various groupings of buns separated. There were litter boxes with hay and litter in every room, but it didn't smell and had no sense of barn-ishness, despite there being some bunny poop and some loose fur visible. The decor was obviously non-standard, but it was a pleasant, novel household and it proved to me that largish rescue operations don't have to be appalling.

This family probably spent most their disposable income on these stray buns, but seemed satisfied with their choice. The buns were all neutered, extremely well cared-for, well fed and considering most had just been tossed or dumped by their former owners (all were domestic buns, not wild rabbits) had landed in absolute Bunny Heaven. Once you got over the fact that there were bunnies on every chair, on the couch, under the sideboard, even lounging on the piano bench and always moving in a river of happily flowing bunny traffic, the house seemed a perfectly normal proposition. There were two fridges, one was full of veggies and the family spent a couple of hours every evening preparing sort of bento-boxes for each individual bun's two meals the next day. Each bun had two Tupper-Ware boxes with its name on it neatly stacked in fridge.

I'm pretty sure the bunny house is running strictly below the radar for fear of being labeled a hoarding situation and broken up. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. In the end I decided that I would retain the care of my two stray buns in order to keep two slots at the bunny house available for more desperate situations.

Perhaps the OP's buyer is a similar situation, but for stray cats. Let's hope so, and not pre-judge her!


    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 3:10AM
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Why would anyone think that cats living in a kennel either outside or in a garage is a humane way for a cat to live? Cats aren't rabbits, they don't live well in cages all their lives.

I agree that the OP should just try and get through this deal, but am surprised that there are people who think having 46 cats is no big deal. Really? I have 1 cat and cleaning his box every day is enough. How does one have 20+ litter boxes? It's not healthy for more than 2-3 cats to share a litter box.

I'm sorry, while I am not at all a proponent of euthanizing animals, you'd have to show me a solid effort on this woman's part of rehoming these cats for me to believe she's doing anything for the good of these animals.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 10:21AM
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Until you visit and see how she takes care of them, what facilities she's set up and whether or not things are clean and organized, you should not be making decisions for her or the cats. There have been people who kept literally hundreds of cats (very rare, of course!) and because of their routine, their absolute dedication, organization and ability, have been better "parents" to the cats than some people with only 1 or 2. You never know, shouldn't assume and shouldn't 'decide'.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 12:06PM
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*facepalm* -without getting into too much further detail...the buyer mentioned things that just don't seem appropriate to mention here, that indicated she believes she is doing these animals a favor but from the sound of it imho, I don't agree with her. I don't think this is a good way to keep cats. If this works out or not I'll add a post to let you all know whether the deal closed or fell through.
At any rate ty for the veiws it's helped me weigh the controversy I feel about being more or less trapped in this situation. If I weren't an animal lover I wouldn't have left the original post. My inner turmoil continues.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 4:28AM
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