County Granted Custody of More Than 300 Cats Seized from Plant City Non-profit

TAMPA: Jean Wilkes the owner of the former cat rescue Fur ‘N Feathers Farm has handed over legal ownership of her cats to Hillsborough County. The agreement was approved by a judge. As the local authority now has ownership of the rescue cats they can begin dealing with them in an orderly manner including adopting them out to new homes. In lieu of this early deal the county would have had to have waited for 30 days before being granted custody of the cats. It might be fair to add that the fact that Wilkes did this deal indicates that she is thinking about the cats albeit at this late stage and in dire circumstances.

County Granted Custody of More Than 300 Cats Seized from Fur 'N Feather Farm

Click this link to see the previous two articles on this story. In short it is about the unfortunate failure of a cat rescue shelter leading to the seizure of all the cats by the authorities and the closure of the shelter which opened in 2014.

Transfer of Ownership

Under these circumstances, it is an initial requirement to ensure that ownership of the rescue cats are transferred to the authorities so they can deal with them legally. That hurdle has been overcome very quickly which is important for cat welfare as it is difficult to find accommodation for 300 cats at short notice.

We are told by Christopher O’Donnell, a staff writer on the Tampa Bay Times, that many of the cats had upper respiratory infections (URIs). This is very typical of neglected cats. In an earlier report we were told that six of the cats had to be euthanized because of the state of their health.


It is my understanding that Jean Wilkes wanted to keep some of the cats and she has achieved that objective because five of them have been retained by her as pets.

The matter has been referred to the State Attorney’s Office. Jean Wilkes may face charges under animal welfare legislation. My understanding is that she has legal advice. The cats are being accommodated at the county’s Animal Control Division on Falkenburg Road.

As mentioned in my earlier post the Fur ‘N Feathers Farm website was closed immediately although a cached version can be accessed. Their Facebook pages is also down.


Interestingly, the approximate 100 exotic birds at the shelter remain there because there were no grounds in respect of health issues to remove them according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

My appreciation to Christopher O’Donnell for this update.

4 thoughts on “County Granted Custody of More Than 300 Cats Seized from Plant City Non-profit”

  1. How can she be allowed to keep all of those birds if her cat sanctuary was so bad? I just don’t get it. Birds are much more difficult to deal with than cats any day IMHO. As for URI, that’s so contagious, our shelter has been closed down for the next week because we suddenly had an outbreak even though we use all sanitation precautions. Our protocol of closing down is viewed as in the best interest of the cats and even volunteers, other then medical staff, are not allowed in during the quarantine period. It’s so sad that a number of cats in this story had to be euthanized due to their poor health. Let’s hope the remainder regain their health and find loving, forever homes.

    • I was surprised to read that the birds are all healthy. Perhaps she favored the birds when things got out of control.


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