(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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading.
This is in memory of my cat Bumble, Stinky, and all the others who touched my life in so many ways.