With 81 cats and six dogs, her pets are taking over her life. The stench of more than 30 litter boxes permeates the house. And Kathryn spends more than $200 a week on the cats, buying 18 pounds of food every two days and six boxes of cat litter a week.
Kathryn's animal hoarding problem started to develop 10 years ago when she was a single mother and thought she would be alone for the rest of her life. She says the cats gave her a sense of purpose and filled a void in her life. "I'm attached to every cat," she says. "All of my animals are named...I don't want to part with any of them really."
But Kathryn knows she is in "heavy denial."
"I thought I was going to be able to handle so many animals, but obviously it's not working out," she says. "I'm maybe not in control of my life."
Margie: I don't really have a lot of friends over because I am embarrassed to have 81 cats and six dogs.
Ron: Having so many animals has put a hold on us getting married. I know it's going to hurt her to give a lot of them up. They have been her babies. But it's time for a change.
Kathryn: The reality is I don't want to live like this anymore. I'm hoping that I'll be able to part with them. I don't know how I got here. What the heck was I thinking? Jeez.
"When you take that many cats and put them into that small of a square-footage area, there are going to be problems," Dr. Rubin says. "They are really very territorial and they have this zone around them that's very, very important to make a good social environment."
Dr. Rubin says it would be much better to leave that animal as a homeless animal outside than putting it into a stressful environment where it will not get the attention it needs.
"One person can't take care of 81 cats and give that kind of [individual] time," Dr. Rubin says. "That cat will always be shy and will live under a piece of furniture or under somebody's bed for [its] entire life."
Dr. Tolin: Kathryn's got...people around her who want to help. But at the same time, you've got to look at what it is that you're doing. You're pushing those people away and drawing yourself into that cat world which is only going to get worse...I hope that you are at the point where you're recognizing that the cats have got to go.
Oprah: Look at what you're doing to your daughter.
Kathryn: That's the killer. Definitely. I have come to the realization that this has to happen, as painful as it might be.
And because Kathryn's local animal shelter can only place a limited number of animals up for adoption, we've arranged for the Oregon Humane Society (www.oregonhumane.org) to take in all of her cats! They are a no-kill shelter and will find all the cats good homes.
"I can't live like this anymore," Krista says. "I can't get rid of stuff. I'm trying. I don't understand it. And it's so frustrating. I just want to be normal. There are so many days, Oprah, I don't even get out of bed. It's so overwhelming."
Krista's children are embarrassed, her friends have abandoned her and her marriage is about to fall apart. "It's almost like I've created a cocoon that the things surrounding me make me feel safe," she explains. "If my husband went and got a dumpster and I came home to an empty house, I honestly would probably kill myself. It's that deep."
Krista knows if she doesn't get help, her life, like her house, will remain in shambles.
"I thought [a bigger house] would help, [give her] some more space; help Krista feel good about herself...help her have some time to hopefully go through things," Bruce says.
Krista even stopped working to stay at home with the children, believing that being near the clutter would encourage her to clean up.
"I was hopeful that [staying at home] would help, but it really hasn't," Bruce says. "Even with her staying home and having time."
Dr. Tolin says he will go to Krista's home to help her get started on cleaning.
"The idea is it gets the ball rolling," he says. "I think that Krista...has really taken a good first step here acknowledging that she has a problem and needs help. That's more than a lot of people with hoarding ever do. But then once we've done that, then you've got to keep the ball rolling. This is a lifetime of work that you're setting yourself up for. And you never reach a point where you say 'I'm done'."
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