Catherine Bradley, a Catholic convent educated 74-year-old lady, says she has a connection with the Lord above,
“..to keep me on the straight and narrow with these little darlings, to continue this mission and keep me alive for as long as it takes.”
The ‘little darlings’ that she is referring to are the feral cats of formerly Palm Beach, Florida and now Caloosa at West Palm Beach. She’s been feeding them and trapping and neutering them for forty years but she also says that her lonely journey of gentleness towards cats is coming to an end.
“Here I am, a little old lady at the end of my mission to take care of these cats. This has been a lonely journey. I’m getting too old for all of this.”
When she refers to ‘this’ she means aggravation from a section of society who dislike what she does. You know the reason by now; some people think that feeding feral cats as part of TNR attracts wildlife such as raccoons which are considered dangerous to the children of local residents.
“Caregivers can’t just pour cat food on the sidewalk and walk away. They have to make an effort to not feed raccoons, and that’s easier said than done.”ACC Capt. Dave Walesky
Bradley responds by saying that she always removes the dishes when the cats are done eating.
Bradley normally feeds the cats at night because the cats are active at night but her detractors claim that she feeds them at night to avoid the prying eyes of people and that she feeds domestic cats as well.
A recent event was too much for her. It has soured her desire to continue. She has walked a tightrope to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities who might prosecute her for creating a public nuisance by ‘placing cat food in such a manner that it attracts coyotes, foxes or raccoons”.
On Feb 12th, after feeding Boo Boo, one of her named feral cats, she was stopped by a Fish and Wildlife (FWC) officer as she was opening a can of Fancy Feast for Woody another of her special cats.
She asked why he had stopped her and received no answer. She waited for 30 minutes and then got up and went over to feed Woody. As he ate the food two raccoons appeared. Her dog chased them away. Moments later the FWC officer issued her with an order to appear before court.
Her supporters kicked in to action. Creedon, a retired developer and Korean War vet, who is well connected got a couple of classy lawyers to represent her, one of whom has represented Tiger Woods in the past. They worked pro bono for Bradley. You see she has admirers too because they know she is a good woman doing God’s work.
Bradley paid $100 in court fees and the prosecution was suspended (deferred) after the FWC officer could not attend the court hearing in May. But it left her feeling vulnerable to further harassment by her critics. She reverted to predawn feeding rounds to avoid aggravating the situation. It’s that tightrope she is walking all over again.
I am sure a lot of volunteers feeding, trapping and sterilising feral cats have suffered the same problems. Bradley has a benefactor, a Palm Beach philanthropist, Elsie Mitchell who bought her the house in Caloosa and set up a $500,000 endowment for Bradley to pay for her TNR work and shelter at her home. It is licensed by the authorities.
Elsie warned Bradley that she would always be hounded in fancy Palm Beach which is why she moved but now it has happened in Caloosa too. I sense that she has had enough of that tightrope walk.