Feral Cat Volunteer Organizer Clears Up Misconceptions

The group wants to rid Seminole Heights of feral cats.

Earlier this week, we reported that volunteers in Seminole Heights plan to round up feral cats in the community and take them to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A call and email to the SPCA was not returned.

The sentiments of Seminole Heights residents and the volunteers have been detailed on a local blog, which has netted dozens of comments.

Candice Nelson is one of the founding volunteer organizers. Nelson contacted Patch and she wanted clarify a few points regarding the feral cats issue. Nelson wanted cat owners to know the following points:

  • "We aren't running random and entering peoples properties chasing lose cats. That was never mentioned. We have received about 18 emails asking for help at specific addresses and locations on private, homeowner or rented properties.  
  • "All cats will be checked for microchip, ear notching and tags. This was stated in the original post. Any cats matching these requirements will be released. 
  • "We are not "running rogue" to kill the cats. We are trying to minimize the destructive pattern that has been persisting for many year. Neighbors tend to forget that while they support something or some cause, their neighbor may not share the same view. We need to realize that all neighbors have rights. For most they have attempted to solve the problems without trapping. What we are doing is not illegal. We are helping neighbors trap cats."

What do you think about the issue and Nelson's points? Tell us in the comments.

Leslie Inman February 07, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Why isn't NELSON going thru Humane Society of Tampa Bay's TNR program? They received a grant from PetSmart Charities to cover two high cat intake zip codes in Tampa. I know one is 33610 and they used to have signs up in Seminole Heights. I'm am going to put a call in to find out what the other zip code is and why only 33610 is only mentioned now for the FREE CAT STERILIZATIONS AND VACCINATIONS FOR INDOOR/OUTDOOR CATS. I don't know anything about the SPCA program or what role NELSON plays there. I personally have trapped several cats and had them fixed through the TNR program. I hightly recommend it!! They even have traps for people to use. I wonder what part of Seminole Heights has residents that are EXTREMELY ANTI-CAT that Candice has to round up her brigade to capture all these cats and get them processed thru SPCA program immediately. I have not heard anything in my area of Seminole Heights or seen anyone posting notices that there's a FERAL CAT CRISIS!!! Please check out HUMANE SOCIETY OF TAMPA BAY'S TNR program!! It's very well run and regularly receives grants and donations for their accomplishments in reducing the feral cat population. The new Feral Cat Patio is a great new addition to the shelter. http://humanesocietytampa.org/feralcats/ http://humanesocietytampa.org/ahcgrandopening/
Susan Long February 07, 2013 at 04:40 PM
The area being discussed is not zip code 33610. It's 33603 and 33604. So, from what I read the Humane society's program would not apply. Also, those wishing to trap the cats do not want to participate in the TNR program. They want to destroy the cats they trap. Or so it says on the neighborhood blog.
CK February 07, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Nelson's points are incomplete. She ends with "we are helping neighbors to trap cats". And then what? What happens next? They are taken to a kill shelter to be exterminated? I see no information here about plans for Trap Neuter Return which is the humane and proper way to handle cat overpopulations. Removing feral or community cats from a neighborhood without returning them spayed/neutered only creates a "void" for more cats to move into the territory. Nelson is handling this all wrong and I wish she would consult the Humane Society of Tampa Bay or seek assistance from a group like Alley Cat Allies. http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=285
Alaine M Procko-Oliveri February 07, 2013 at 08:32 PM
I too agree with the previous emails- not all domestic "pets" are microchip due to health/various reasons and feral cats removed from an area without return leads to other feral animals moving-in. You would just be encouraging an endless cycle of ineffective measures and more repopulating. These cats already located can be caught, neutered/spayed and returned. I personally feel that the river vermin would reign on neighborhood lawns, pools and surprise visits at your doors-home and car! (http://www.trtnj.com/issues/100423/news5.php - just suggested reading... Please see: http://www.feralcat.com/michelle.html, http://www.tampapets.org/feralcats.php, just a few and the www.tampapets listing has other resources for help with this quest. Please educate before you eradicate! Alaine
Cynthia February 08, 2013 at 01:04 AM
Why not make up fliers, leave flier on every door and find out if neighbors have a feral cat problem first. Still not enough information on this, need dates and these 27 people are really handling this. Their going about this all wrong, it's like a witch hunt.
David February 08, 2013 at 03:18 AM
notching their ears? stay out of my neighborhood, I have a feral cat I call him Bandit ,he comes through our doggie door and helps himself to the dogs food, I'm glad he's there,
Kay February 08, 2013 at 12:43 PM
What she also does not mention is that they will be setting up traps set with very good smelling food (to the cats) which will lure cats from people’s properties! No, they won't be going into your yard they will just be luring your cat away so that it can be trapped and if not notched (not all fixed ferals are!) they will be taken to HCAS and destroyed (ie:killed!) HSTB has a program for free or at most $15 to fix ferals. These people are anti TNR and do not want more TNR cats in the area and will trap your cats to have it put down! To them the only good outdoor cat is one that is dead!
Kay February 08, 2013 at 12:45 PM
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is pen y ANY one that brings in a cat. It may not be free for different zip codes but if not it is only $15.
Kay February 08, 2013 at 12:46 PM
They will be setting up traps that lure cats from ther own yrds to the traps. If you see a trap your cat can smell it
Christine February 08, 2013 at 01:09 PM
You said it, Kay. Despite their effort, in about 6 months a whole new crop of cats will show up out of nowhere to fill the void they left when they took out the native cats. Hopefully these people will get educated and use their energy more wisely. I would like to know how they will check for microchips. Do they have a scanner they are going to use on every cat? My neighbor's cat got trapped by another neighbor about 2 months ago. He was microchipped. The trapper had the county shelter (kill shelter) pick him up. My neighbor went there looking for her cat and was told he wasn't there. Finally she confirmed that the trapper did indeed trap her cat and she went back to the shelter and demanded that they look for her cat. Since she had the trapper's name, they were able to find him. They said they don't scan for microchips in every case. Her cat was hours from being destroyed. This whole rigmarole could have been prevented if neighbors weren't taking and seeking to destroy other neighbor's property. Our cats are our property and when you trap a cat he can't tell you his address. It is not always obvious (as demonstrated by the example above) which cats are feral and which have homes. The cats don't know better to not walk on your car or spray your plants. People, however, should know better than to Take other people's property. People should know better than to Destroy other people's property.
Juana Herman February 08, 2013 at 01:44 PM
What the heck trap fix and release back is the way to go. My cat is fixed and doesn't have a notch or microchip.
Kay February 08, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Then be careful Juana. Your cat if trapped would only be held by HCAS (animal control) for TWO DAYS before being put down. That gives you two days (more like one really) to notice it missing then get to animal control and identify the cat that may or may not be in a public viewing area for you to find. They will be placing traps baited with tuna and/or fish to lure cats away from properties to catch these cats.
SPCA Tampa Bay February 08, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Patch reporter Camille Spencer did contact us and we referred her to ACT in Tampa since SPCA Tampa Bay is only able to work with ferals in Pinellas County. We had limited grant funds for low cost surgeries ($25) at both SPOT (4403 62nd Avenue North in Pinellas Park) and AHCC (2118 Drew Street in Clearwater). In January 2013 the grant funding provided for 96 feral cat surgeries. Nora Hawkins/SPCA Tampa Bay -- Info@SPCATampaBay.org
Cynthia February 09, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Still not enough information, no date or dates, where these traps will be set up. Who are the 27 people? Are these 27 people coming back to take care of the rat problem we'll have, I sure hope so! Most cats if fed aren't going to kill birds or snakes. My cats are inside / outside cats with no notched ear. I don't want my cats lured into traps. I'd like dates and time so I can protect my cats. If you are going to those 18 houses that you said you received emails to get rid of cats, seems to me that all they need is a trap, not 27 people. Would be nice to know where these houses are.
LR February 09, 2013 at 01:03 AM
I am the one that Christine speaks of whose cat was lured, trapped and taken away to Animal Services by another neighbor. That neighbor had lured both my cat and my neighbor's cat three doors down. The person who did the trapping lives on the next block, so it is obvious that these luring and trapping methods are going to cause cats that aren't typically not a nuisance to these traps and have to go through the trauma of being captured and taken away and who knows what else. To the people who are involved in this... PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE educate yourself and spread the word to others who feel they have problems on their property due to cats. As CK indicated...consult the Humane Society of Tampa Bay or seek assistance from a group like Alley Cat Allies. http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=285 If you look at this alley cat website they have easy and very inexpensive methods to humanely deter cats from your property. EDUCATE BEFORE YOU ERADICATE.
Chris Taylor February 09, 2013 at 02:32 AM
Thanks for posting, Nora. Also, we'll be sure to follow up on a lot of people's questions and comments.
M. A. February 09, 2013 at 02:59 AM
Yes please do tell which houses/areas these traps are set at. There are many neighbors in my area with cats who I am sure would not appreciate someone just going around setting these very irresistible cat traps. How dare this Nelson woman and her minions do something like this? Shame on you! What do you do when the cats trapped are not chipped, or have their ears clipped? I have noticed that you do not answer this question. What's going to be next, the neighborhood chickens? "Oh, the neighborhood possums are digging around my frou frou cabbage roses...what retched creatures! We shall destroy their evil, ratty faces and then have them for dinner with sweet potatoes and tea!" If you don't like cats in your neighborhood then GO AWAY!
Kay February 09, 2013 at 03:37 AM
You asked "What do you do when the cats trapped are not chipped, or have their ears clipped?" Well they will take them to HCAS (Animal Control) and after 48 hours they get killed (oh my, not politically correct! Put to sleep...that better?). That would give owners less than 48 hours to track down their cats and save them...not just ferals as not all cats are notched or micro chipped. Even the SPCA has backed away from this Candice Nelson women! Who the heck is she and why is she doing this in our area?
M. A. February 09, 2013 at 04:11 AM
This is outrageous. When and were this is happening? What are the specific addresses?
HeightsGuy February 09, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Self-righteous do-gooders making their world better for themselves, forget anyone else it may affect. I question the legalities of citizens taking this on themselves, that is why the city has agencies for such matters. The exact locations of these traps must be disclosed so cat owners in the area can take precautions neccesary to avoid the wishes of others.
Laurie February 11, 2013 at 10:32 PM
This is outrageous. My cat is indoor/outdoor, no notch but fixed. She wears a collar, but no tags so she has a chance if she comes across marauding dogs. The collar is a cat "breakaway" style, so that could disappear at any time. They are luring our pets into traps? Please add my voice to those asking for a better plan. Thanks
Josh February 13, 2013 at 02:16 AM
So where do I sign up to trap these "feral cats?" I completely understand everyone’s concerns with their cats being trapped, but the truth is that not all of these cats are yours. This is a problem that needs to be handled. I feel that some of you are looking at this as if these animals are all sweet house cats. These are an abrasive species that is doing damage to Seminole Heights. The neighborhood smells of cat urine, the cats do kill the squirrels and other wildlife, and the flea problem is atrocious. If these were opossum, raccoons or even unleashed dogs this wouldn't even be a discussion. We need to acknowledge there is a problem. Getting mad at this individual who is trying to solve the problem is unproductive. I feel that the people who care about these cats should be the ones doing something. The people leaving these comments should be the ones out there trapping these cats, and making sure that this huge problem doesn’t happen to the level that it has reached. If you love your cats, then help the people who don’t love them not have a HUGE reason to complain about it. Help us by meeting us in the middle. Working with each other is far more productive than arguing with each other.
M. A. February 13, 2013 at 02:43 AM
I have two properties in the area and I have never seen this supposed problem. The neighborhood doesn't smell like cat urine, you are just exaggerating. Saying they are an abrasive species that is doing damage is not true. I understand there are feral cats and all WE are asking is to help by having them trapped, fixed and released back. That is the humane solution. Just going about and saying that TNR doesn't work is not going to get the cat friendly people to agree with you. I took two feral cats fixed them, got their shots, got them chipped. They have been the most wonderful kitties and amazing rat catchers. However, I could not get them to get used to be inside cats. Many other neighbors within my streets have similar stories..not a single one of them complains about it. As far as dogs, a neighbor dog often escapes. We don't just take the dog to the pound. We take him back to the owners so he doesn't get lost. Another dog sits peacefully in his front yard..no collar or nothing. He never wanders off. He is possibly the best dog I have ever seen. There are chickens that wander around my street and come into my yard. Yes, there have been the aggressive dog or the cat that attacks other cats but this has been rare and I try my best to talk to the owners. I love animals and I think that what is best is to find a compassionate solution.


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