Categories: Feral Cats

Cats In Marion County Florida

by Tom
(Silver Springs, Florida)

Cats in Florida - Michael (Admin) added this picture by James Powell (Flickr)

My name is Tom. I live in the Ocala National Forest. I own 8 (now 11) cats that are all, as I label them, "rescue kitties". My oldest is 15, my youngest three are just over 6 weeks old.

I have always helped animals be they turtles, cats, deer, or whatever happens to need help. Animal control came to my house last week and threatened to fine me if I continued to feed and care for the cats.

Now, as far as I am concerned, the cats are like any other wild animal, and there is no law about feeding squirrels, birds, turtles, or other animals.

I have heard arguments about rabies. Rabies will affect most warm blooded animals, and nothing is done to exterminate them, nor should there be.

As a property owner, I feel it is my choice to help or not. I trap those I can, but many will not be trapped. I am at the limit of the amount I can adopt, and it breaks my heart. Many I have cared for have disappeared. I can only assume they were killed by other wild animals, hit by cars, or trapped.

Many ask how I can live with myself knowing this. My reply is, at least they had a chance at life, and I gave them that chance.

There are many communities in Florida that have a catch, neuter, and release policy. I feel that is how it should be in all counties. There are many non-native species in Florida that do much more damage than cats, and are much more dangerous.

I feel that it is the owners of cats that should pay the price, especially those who refuse to not neuter their cats. The argument that they may want to breed them someday does not fly wth me.

There are thousands of cats that are available for adoption, so unless they are pure bred cats, there is no reason to breed any cat.

I know that some pet owners run into financial difficulty, but there are many programs available for no, to low cost, neutering.

There are no excuses, and I feel the cost should be figured into the cost all pet owners (not just cat owners) pay when registering their pets.

I am an environmentalist; my education and trade. I feel that all animals that are not dangerous (like pythons, tigers, piranha, and the like are) deserve a chance. This chance is not given by animal control, and less and less by no-kill-shelters that are being overrun by pets due to economics and other reasons.

We all need to get together and work out a solution that can be presented to the Florida Legislature.

I am sure there are many things, and much research, that needs to be done, but my preliminary research shows me that:

1) a capture/neuter/release program would save Florida counties money and resources.
2) released cats that have been neutered are no more dangerous than other wild animals, and in many cases less so (ie racoons, bear, foxes, etc.).
3) fining people, and other forms of intimation, only causes disent, hatred, and extreme dislike for county officials.

I am sure there are many others.

For those who wish to reach me to discuss this matter, contact me at

Thanks for reading.

This is in memory of my cat Bumble, Stinky, and all the others who touched my life in so many ways.

TomCats In Marion County Florida to Feral Cats

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Cats In Marion County Florida

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Aug 01, 2011 jerry c vanuffelen
by: william benton

jerry you are a disgrace to the human race. your parents should have been spayed or neutered before you were born. people like you should should be housed in prison or a mental facility. you are certainly a few fries short of a happy meal. There is a place called hell for the likes of you. you are disgusting.

Aug 01, 2011 Theft of cats
by: william benton

To start with if a neighbor that trapped my animals (which I do not have) and took them away and would not tell me where they were he would have the option of whipping my ass or me whipping his. I believe I could convince him of the error of his ways. The afore mentioned person is a piece of shit and needs to be dealt with as such. The cats are god's creatures and have a place on earth like everything else.

Jul 08, 2011 TNR
by: Dee


Sheltering Hands, a local cat rescue organization, is about to launch Marion County, Florida's first TNR (trap, neuter, release) program for feral/stray cats. This is so huge for those of us who care for cat colonies. We will be able to register our congregations in the program and manage them freely. We will no longer have to hide our activities or live in fear. Like me, if you have had head-on collisions with the animal control folks, this program will bring relief. They, nor anyone else, will be allowed to mess with any registered cat colony or their caretaker.

Sheltering Hands has an open meeting scheduled for July 17, 2011 (yes, that's a Sunday) at 5pm at what used to be the old Humane Society building 10699 SW 105th Avenue Ocala, FL.
If you are a feral cat caretaker, know someone who is, or just have an interest in this TNR program, PLEASE ATTEND AND SPREAD THE WORD. I've been told to bring a chair unless I want to stand as they just moved into the building and it's pretty bare right now. See you there...

Mar 09, 2011 I am in the same boat
by: Carol

I had 2 cats and 1 dog who lived as inside animals, both cats were rescues, one was declawed and both had lived indoors at some point because they adapted to living inside with no problem. My dog, although not happy, did not bother the cats. My dog liked to chase cats, she just liked to get them to run, lol. Then a neighbor across the street who was keeping 5 females and 1 male cat, all strays was evicted. She moves out and the strays, clearly seeing a welcome mat at my house, came over. All the females were pregnant. It was delivery central at my house. (1) Serena, lost her kittens, so I got her spayed first. My vet was wonderful and charged me a reduced rate for all of the cats. Serena was living in my bedroom closet. Mommy cat was living in my 3d bedroom and had 5 kittens. She also took on the one kitten from Boots. I had the 2 mom's spayed, got them shots, and got the 6 kittens spayed and neutered and they got shots. Smoke, the other mother, had 3 kittens, got her and her kittens fixed and shot. Garfield, our only male, I had him neutered as well. I got 5 of 6 adopted from the first 6 kittens. I did it on my own. I was unable to get the other 3 kittens from Smoke adopted. So at that point I had 10 cats in my house. My poor dog. Another neighbor, who was not happy about my cats being in and out, trapped 2 of my cats. I was able to save 1 but he dumped Smoke and I have no idea where and he refused to tell me. He also trapped a kitten who lived with another neighbor and both were never found. I had to keep all the cats inside. Then I was able to get Vodoo, really feral, to let me catch her. She was pregnant and had 4 kittens. Turned out Vodoo had cat aids and the kittens tested positive at birth. Then I had to research that and she lives inside. The kittens were aids free and I got one of her kittens adopted but I had to keep the rest. I have since taken in Cracky, she lost her kittens. It was expensive, time consuming, and informative but I learned you can rehabilitate feral cats. Now, 14 cats and my dog, who went through alot of changes, sharing my home. So far we are doing ok and no one had gone missing. I am glad there are others like myself.

Feb 19, 2011 Thank you
by: Pat Anthony

Sometimes creatures need help from humans, and it is good that you are doing what you can.

Many of us quietly feed and help strays. The best thing we (family members)have done so far is have the animals spayed or neutered, and place with someone when we can.

Too many to go around, but this is the fault of the humans. We can do better.

Oct 27, 2010 things to tell animal control
by: tom blog owner

To Dee and others:

I have said this before, but will repeat it again here.
While currently it is illegal to feed feral cats in Marion county Florida, it is not illegal to feed other wild animals (at your own risk). There are many animals I feed, fox, raccoons,possum, deer, turtles, etc. The good thing about this is, they all eat cat food! YES! Even turtles believe it or not, it is true, try it some time. My property is a turtle habitat for gopher turtles. I had to get this permit before I could build my house back in 2005. so far, and I am not sure why, I have only been visited by Animal control one time with the threat of fines. Since that time (back in June of this year), animal control has not called, visited, or threatened me (knock on wood!). I am not going to push my luck, but I suspect it has something to do with my MAR permit (mammals and reptiles).
So, the next time animal control accuses you of feeding cats, tell them that you are feeding other wild life (which according to both Animal control, and Florida statues) is not illegal.

Here are some tips:

Feed animals out of the sight of other neighbors whenever possible
Keep any shelters you may build hidden or disguised
Take pictures of other animals that you feed (raccoons, rabbits, deer, etc.)
I personally leave my garage door open 4 to 6 inches during in climate weather (rain, cold, etc.) Just be sure to secure any items which may hurt or injure animals, keep garbage locked up tight, be careful when starting your car especially on cold morning (cats love to crawl up inside the engine block of warmth) and be aware that you may invite unwelcome animals as well (rats, snakes, etc.) so be careful!
Since animals come out early in the morning and late at night, remove feeding bowls after you feed in the morning (animal control never shows up before 10 or 11 am est!)
build a blind (fence, shrubs, trees, etc) in the line-of-sight of neighbors if you cannot hide your shelters or feeding areas.
remember that animal control cannot come onto your property without being invited, or unless there is an imminent danger. I refer you to your 4th amendment rights under the US Constitution. If they show up to your door, ask them to leave, even if accompanied by an officer of the law, and ask them to get a search warrant. do not buy there "they have a right to search and will take you to jail if you to not comply" crap! use and invoke your 4th amendment rights! look them up online...know them...use them!

As much as I love all animals, please remember that some animals are not able to be domesticated because they have been in the wild to long and can cause serious injure or illness to those who try to help them. Use the proper precautions, and common sense!

Oct 27, 2010 Ferals in Marion County, Florida
by: Dee Kessing

Tom. you are so distressed. I am too. I live in a MHP and have been taking care of ferals here and long before. Animal Control has fined me to the max. The next level will be court. As I have said before, I WILL NEVER STOP FEEDING ANY ANIMAL THAT SEEMS HUNGRY - and that includes the many ferals that I have fed and sheltered. I am in the process of preparing for winter right now for the 36 guys/gals I feed and shelter. I am preparing insulated housings. I don't care what "they" do to me. I will never stop looking out for the welfare of my "babies". I am for real, Tom. I understand your paranoia. I am suspicious of everybody around me who can't relate. I have to constantly hide my activities. I wake up at 2:30 AM to begin my feedings. You are not alone.
God Bless. Dee

Oct 26, 2010 update on october 26th post
by: tom

When I wok up this morning, the cat I heard in the neighbors garage was still screaming. I called animal control at 9am est. They showed up at 11 pm est. I video taped the whole thing, though the animal control officer must have told the neighbor I was filming because he did not come out of his sanctuary. I am going to post this video, along with commentary, by the end of next week an youtube. I will post a link here to the video. I have mentioned the mans name, and address, as well as my own. Feel free to contact me. Now I am sure I am going to get a lot of negative comments, those who could care less, or feel I am violating the neighbors privacy. To this i bad. He is hiding behind the law. He makes no attempt to hide his actions, he even acts proud of it. I filmed him from my own property.
Other details:
When the animal control officer removed the kitten...yes! kitten! in the trap cage, it had not water of food. It was maybe 4 weeks old. Not once has this so called neighbor come over and asked me if I wanted to take the animal and try to find it a home, or keep it for myself. He knows I have cats, he has seen me outside with my oldest cat Mittens.
anyone who wants to contact me please do so here or on my yahoo e mail. I appreciate offers to call people, but until I am sure anyone/everyone who wants to do so can be trusted, and is not trying to entrap me, I want to keep it online for now.

more to follow.

Oct 26, 2010 TOM! TOM! TOM!
by: Anonymous

You may call me (873-4635). I am tired of animal control which has harrassed me until I could puke!
If they have a mother cat who has had babes, you have no alternative except to forfeit the babies if they are too young to live without mom. Your neighbor is less than human. What are your alternatives? Take the trap, dispose of it even though he will get another...
I WILL NEVER STOP CARING FOR FERALS, no matter wHAT THEY DO TO ME. I have converted many to domestic and will never stop feeding and housing them. This county is so far behind the times not to implement a SNR (spay-neuter-release) program like many Florida counties have. I am attempting 5o form a volumteer organization that will care for feral cat colonies around Marion County. I have a vet onboard to help.

Oct 26, 2010 more info on feral cats
by: tom

Sorry I have not been on in so long. Lots has been going on. My mom passed away October 3rd at the age of 90.
My next door neighbor has trapped more cats. Mothers and babies. I am not sure i reported this but he trapped a mother that had just given birth to 3 kittens. The mother, I named her peaken, trusted me enough to bring her kittens into my garage. I found them just as I was leaving for a trip to texas back at the end of June. 2 are American bobtails, the other has a normal tail. This pisses me off to no end. Hpw many Mothers are trapped without regards to the kittens that are left behind to become wild, get sick, and die? When is this madness going to stop?!
Tonight i was walking around my yard and heard a cat that was in distress. After further investigation, I discovered the meowing is coming form the idiot next door garage. I called marion county animal control to report an animal in trouble. I was told to call in the morning, that this was not an emergency. I asked if i met the animal control officer in the morning if he or she would give me the cat. He told me that the liability for the county is to great. I told him that I would be willing to sign any waiver they wanted. He told me that he was sorry but no I could not get the cat. He also told me that feral cats are not savable or able to be rehabilitated!
Unbelievable. I told him that all of my cats were rescues from the environment. He told me that even after 6 weeks they were not able to be kept! I have cats I have taken in from kittens of less that 4 weeks up to cats that were 4 months older or more.
I just do not know what to do. I pray for someone, somewhere to read this and offer me some assistance on getting this unfair, cruel, discriminatory law changed.

Jul 26, 2010 Ferals
by: Dee

Tom, I have sent you an email. I, also, am a victim of Marion County Animal Control and have endurred threats, harrassment, and fines for feeding. I would love to form a group to care for colonies in our county. I just don't know how to do it without landing in court because of the ordinances in place here. Any thoughts you may have are welcome.

Jul 26, 2010 ways to avoid idiots and the marion county law
by: tom

Here is an update of what has been going on with my next door neighbor, and the matrion county ordiances regarding the feeding of feral cats.
As I have told everyone, I am the owner of now 11 cats, all of which I have saved from the noose.
My most recent are kittens I found in my garage after the mother was trapped by the idiot neightbor of mine.
The other morning he called animal control to collect a cage in which he had cought a mother and her baby. I was so upset...and he told animal control, once again, that I had been feeding the cats.
I checked the oridances for marion county and found that yes, indeed, it is illegal to feed feral cat colonies (though I would not call 4 cats a colony!) Further rading showed no regulations/ordiances against feeding wild animals (racoons, deer, bear, fox, girraffes, lions, water biffalo, etc. ( i am being funny with the last ones!)
So, for all of you who feed cats tell animal control if, and when they show up, that you are not feedng cats, but other wild animals and that there is no law against it. How can you stop cats from eating?
I hope this helps. I am sure there is much more trouble on the horizon for me, but my mind has not ben changed. I have read articles how cats are not indigenous to florida, but neither are many other animals brought here by our euorpean ancestors (cattle, hroses, etc.). I have also read how the law about endangered species (birds and the like) could also be used aginst people who feed feral cats. That they cause rabbies and other diseases. Well, so do other wild animals. Since I have lived in Florida, I have only ever heard of 2 cats tht were rabbied compared to numerous raccons.
Take heart everyone, do what your heart tells you to do.
good luck to all.
The man in question who is trapping cats (mothers an babies is Jerry C. Vanuffelen)
drop him a line.

Jul 04, 2010 Publicity
by: Joanne Mid Cheshire Animal Welfare UK

Hi Tom,

Publicise what this idiot is doing!!
Why can't these idiots see called Animal Control see you are helping them to control the population of unwanted cats in the world. From what I have read on other posts on this site they sound more like Terminators rather than Animal Control! Can't they see you are helping to Control Animals so in effect you are helping them to do their job! Are they the equivalent of the RSPCA in the UK if so it sounds like they are all in the wrong job -just a paid job with no COMPASSION! Which unfortunately happens over here in the UK. It goes without saying really the compassionate ones are the unpaid volunteers!

Get as much publicity as you can! get some pictures of the cats put on this site and keep fighting. See if you can get a sympathetic vet to neuter some of them for free - good publicity for them. Contact your local and other Press and tell the story as if it were the cats speaking - you are their voice. There must be some animal loving Celebrities who just may read your article.

Remember if it is your property they are on and you are saying they are your cats nobody should have the right to touch them!

Best wishes

Jul 03, 2010 need resources
by: tom

I am going to try nd fight this unfair, inhumane law that exisits about feeding, caring for, and the treating with compassion of feral cats.
As I said in my original posting, my next door neighbor has called animal control on me for feeding the feral cats that come around. Now, I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not lure them. They come here because they know they are safe and will be fed, as well as have a place to stay ( I leave my garage door open a crack as well as my lanai door).
I was away for the past week in Texas, and have found out hat my next door neighbor (yes! the one who called animal control on me) has set 4 traps. No food, no water, in plain site of me right on my fence line.
I am taking photos of the cages, as well as any unfortunate cats that may become trapped. I will post a photo of my neighbor (if it is allowed) as well.
I need resources, and help in any way with fighting this law, and the law that ends up destroying animals who have no fault in all of this.
I am self employed, and my wife is unemployed. Any help/resources anyone can point me to will be greatly appreciated.

Jul 01, 2010 BREEDING
by: Joanne

I also agree with the point you made about breeding, we are totally against this and anyone who adopts from us is vet checked so that we are sure they look after their animals properly and also that they can afford to look after the adopted cat/cat's. Occasionally we have kittens from the feral sites which we bring home then we spend time taming them once we have vaccinated them they are ready for re homing - we also go out and check the homes to be sure they are not too near a main road.

We know there are people who want a specific breed but sometimes even these kitts get into the wrong hands and are bought by people who are going to continue breeding and selling to anyone!!

Please note I am NOT criticising reputable breeders!
However I do wish the human race would stop meddling creating new breeds - some times the result is not good!

Jul 01, 2010 Totally Agree
by: Joanne Mid Cheshire Animal Welfare UK

Hi Tom,

I couldn't agree with you more RE; Feral cats, I find some people's attitude towards little feral cats - and other animals who DON'T ASK TO BE BORN absolutely pathetic! When are the idiots going to realise this is all down to THE HUMAN RACE!! You are quite correct that these cats should be trapped, neutered and returned to what is THEIR HOME!! This is what we do at Mid Cheshire Animal Welfare. If you have a look on the Feral page I have displayed pictures and write ups of some of our colony's. Here in the UK it is against the law to harm feral cats especially if there is an organisation such as ours who are neutering and caring for these cats. These are then called controlled colony's. If you read an article I have posted I recently had a run in with our ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH over one of the colony's - I WON THE BATTLE! Luckily we are what is called in the UK a REGISTERED CHARITY so we are fortunate to receive donations from members of the public to help us to help the cats. I'm not sure if you have these in the USA.
Once we agree to take on a colony it is has to be with the agreement that we will neuter, worm and flea treat plus feed for life as long as the owner of land agrees that the cats are returned to what is THEIR HOME!! we then feed and check them daily. If the owner does not agree we then say we will not help! Plus we remind them it is illegal to harm them, so if they want to become over-run that is their problem! (and they know we will be watching them!!) We do not charge them anything and once they realise this they always agree to our terms! I absolutely abhor these people who want to harm ANY animal!
Best Wishes

Jun 30, 2010 Thanks
by: Michael

Thanks, Tom, for a nice post. I agree with all you say. Any cat that suddenly disappears has probably been killed it seems to me. Particularly as you were feeding and caring for them. This really upsets me too. There are a lot of people who like to kill. It doesn't really matter what it is. And feral cats are a natural target for this perverted behavior.

Nowhere near enough is done to control feral cats in a humane manner. A widespread comprehensive TNR problem would be effective if combined with stricter controls on cat keeping plus education. A lot of people who keep cats seem to be ill-educated.

Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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  • I applaud you for helping out an innocent life. I myself live in the n.e. tip of Marion. I care for a lot more than you. Last count was just over 30, but 28 of them I have managed to get neutered, fixed and all their shots. My highest population was 52 all of those where fixed. It makes it so much easier to find homes for them. It cost me over $150 plus donations I can raise, to feed them. I feed them only dry food and they love it because that's all they have had. It is very hard feeding that many, my only income is my disability, I am a Polio survivor & . But it can be done, the amount of love & devotion & I live alone with all these cat's. Keep that love and concern for the cat's you have and You will never be alone.

    • Thank you very much Michael for commenting and sharing your experiences and your cat rescuing with other visitors to this website.

  • I am hoping you can help. Someone dropped off an older kitten at my house on Christmas night. It is on my back porch, as I have a dog that wants to eat it. I cannot get anyone to help. If you could please tell me a place I could drop her off at, that will not kill this poor thing.

    • Hello Elaine. Thank you for commenting. You do not say where you live. The best way to find a rescue centre where I'm afraid there is no guarantee that the cat will be rescued and saved, is to go to Google and search for a rescue centre nearby. In the search term you should include the phrase "animal rescue" and the name of the place where you live. Either that or you find a local person who will adopt the cat for you in which case you will be acting at a cat rescue lady temporarily. However I agree that cat shelters are not what they purport to be because they euthanize far too many cats but unfortunately you may have to rely on one unless, as mentioned, you can find someone to adopt cat. Good luck and my best wishes to the cat.

  • Please tell me why a cat has to be on a leash in Marion co. fl. I can under stand a leash if the cat is trained for it in the city. But in the country where cats are a great help on the farms and most cats will not walk on a leash. My cats (two) would hang them selves if put on a leash. They are great ratters and keep my little chicken farm free of rats that eat feed and are a problem on health issues. You can go to most of the horse farms in marion that are a great employer of our citizens and find they have cat in the barns and are will cared for. Need to change that law. Is there anyone out there that can help me resend the cat leash law? Frances

    • Thanks for commenting. For many people this law is strange. It would never happen Europe for instance.

  • Thanks for your reply yes I do have a big heart and try to help all the people I can with their animals,I live out in disbelief,and it's definitely a dumping ground for unwanted kitties, it's very sad,but I try and do the best I can to help people around me get there kitties fixed, and by doing this they don't have to take the class I truely don't mind.I'll help anyone I can so if there's anyone out there I can help please let me guys keep up the good work and together maybe we'll make a difference. Truely TT

  • Also if you would like to call me my # is 352-239-1474 please feel to call I also get everything done for my cats for $10 no joke I'll be more willing to help you all I can. Please call. AndGodBless!! For all your trying to do.

  • My name is Tammy, let me try to help you guy's Tom I live in marion county and I took a two hour class to become a TNR person I've got 17cats. There all fixed I have 6that is my personal cats but sence I've been with sheltering hands the ferel cats they fix and and have chipped there ear is also nipped at the tip this way they no these cats can not be touched. Have you tried to do this for your kitties. I love my cats and would go to jail in a heartbeat for them.

    • Hi Tammy.
      Tom just sort of dropped off of this thread.
      Way above, 4 years ago, I posted when SH first started TNR and even emailed him but got no response.

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