Cat Hoarder Pleads Guilty

Maryland woman was found living with more than 300 cats.

Posted: September 28, 2006, 5 a.m. EST

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The trial of a Maryland woman cat hoarder charged with animal cruelty abruptly ended this week when she agreed to plead guilty to 46 misdemeanor counts of neglect.

Patricia Nicholson, 51, of Mount Airy, withdrew her not guilty plea and submitted an Alford plea Sept. 26, nine months after 119 live cats and 184 dead cats were found in her home. In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but admits there’s enough evidence to produce a guilty verdict.

In return for her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped 76 other counts of neglect and 122 misdemeanor counts of inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering.

Nicholson entered the plea midway through the first day of testimony during her trial in Frederick County District Court.

Presiding Judge O. John Cejka set sentencing for Nov. 29. Nicholson faces a maximum penalty of 11 years and four months behind bars plus a $46,000 fine.

The Maryland State Attorney’s office has recommended a suspended jail sentence and three years of supervised probation, provided that Nicholson gets psychiatric treatment and doesn’t acquire or care for more animals.

On Dec. 16, 2005, Nicholson was found living in a house with 303 cats, 46 of whom had to be euthanized, according to court records and trial testimony.

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Reader Comments

Jill    Long Valley, NJ

9/4/2012 5:55:40 AM

I feel bad for all those cats. Every time I read one of those cat-hoarder articles, it makes me wonder why someone would do such a thing!

kymmi    new london, OH

12/25/2007 8:14:50 AM

good she shouldnt do that to those poor animals

Jamaka    Pinon Hills, CA

2/9/2007 3:08:07 PM

I am saddened to read of yet another massive tragedy concerning cats and a person who originally undoubtedly had nothing but good intentions in mind. It is fairly obvious that there is some sort of disturbance at work; but the underlying problem remains our collective responsibility and concern -- namely, that of the MILLIONS of loving, sweet, deserving cats and kittens who forfeit their lives annually in this nation alone simply because there are not enough loving, responsible life homes for them. The answers? SPAYING AND NEUTERING. When will everyone "get" this? And help exists nationwide for low income cat caregivers! Mobile vet clinics are nationwide, as well -- there is simply no excuse for not doing the responsible, humane thing and SPAYING/NEUTERING ALL DOMESTIC CATS. PERIOD.
Also, a cat or kitten is NOT a "thing". A cat or kitten is a sentient living being, a mammal, like ourselves, with a sensitive nature and wants and needs which need to be paid attention to, respected, and met. Anyone who is not prepared to make a lifetime commitment to what should be regarded as the adoption of a beloved member of the family, should never even think about bringing a cat or kitten into his or her life. Also, humane education should be universal, and should begin in the home, or at least in the earliest grades of school, and continue throughout life. There should be zero tolerance for any kind of cruelty, abuse, neglect, abandonment, apathy, or callousness toward cats or kittens, and we should ALL step up to the plate in defense of the defenseless. And -- until there are none (cats without loving, forever homes) ADOPT ONE. Or more than one. These steps WILL bring about the day when hoarders do not exist, because there will be no need for any single household to adopt more than they can responsibly care for in the first place. "Collecting" has its roots in sorrow and outrage -- sorrow at the overpopulation crisis and resulting millions of senseless deaths, and outrage that too few people shoulder far too much responsibility, while too many take none at all. YOU AND I are the answer to this problem. Will you help?

Julie    Frederick, MD

1/11/2007 5:44:14 PM

Some people try to save them all. Without realizing
how much time & money it takes.Yes she needs help to
understand that you can't save all of them.So try not to judge her to harshly.

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