Mystery and Problems Following Death of “Feral” Cat at NC Shelter

There’s a mystery surrounding the death of a one-year-old cat named Penny who was identified as afraid, who was recently euthanized at a North Carolina shelter. According to “Harnett Hawk” (see comment on this page), two volunteers petted her without incident. Shelter staff interacted with her without incident for about two weeks according to staff. Apparently the shelter decided automatically to kill any cat they feel can be described as “semi-feral” or “feral” in retaliation for the discussion of Penny’s death on a Facebook page (see below).


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Penny came into the Harnett County Animal Shelter in Lillington as a scared cat. There are two versions on why she was killed, according to Friends of Harnett County Animal Shelter, a Facebook group not affiliated with the shelter but trying their best to save the cats there. Penny was killed either because her time was up or because she had bitten a shelter worker, depending on which version of the story you believe.

Regardless, the shelter has now made the decision to no longer allow rescue groups to come into the shelter and save feral cats. This means any cat deemed feral will be killed there without a chance to go to a loving home. Keep in mind many cats act out when they’re terrified and thrown into a cage and hear dozens of dogs barking in the background. Yet if a stray or family cat, who is lost, is determined by staff to be feral, it will likely be killed.

The shelter director points the blame toward the Harnett County Commissioners. Friends of Harnett County Animal Shelter released a statement explaining the situation, which animal advocates are trying to put a stop to.

“The shelter manager says that this decision was made by the County Commissioners. We don’t agree with it. Rescues sign a form releasing the County from liability after the animal is pulled and besides, we have never heard of anyone suing the County because they were attacked by a shelter cat, feral or not. We think it is more likely that this is retaliation since the shelter manager told our former admin that he can ban all the different rescues that she is authorized to pull animals for if she “bashes” the shelter on social media, referring to the discussion about Penny on this page. Does “bashing” also include telling the truth about what happens there? Will bashing simply be whatever the shelter manager or director doesn’t like?”

There’s another concern at this time as well. According to the Harnett County Animal Shelter website, no cats are being accepted at this time, as the shelter says they are at capacity on cats, as well as on dogs. The shelter requests people check back later for updates. The Board of Commissioners also have a link, should you wish to contact them about these problems.

Again, please note the Friends of Harnett County Animal Shelter is NOT run by the shelter – it’s managed by local animal advocates whose objective is to expose the animals at our County shelter to as many individuals and rescues as possible in hopes of finding them good homes or rescue. Friends of the Harnett County Animal Shelter is NOT a rescue. A lot of people don’t understand these Facebook pages and bash them, when many are working around the clock to be the voice for the cats and dogs who can’t speak for themselves.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

22 thoughts on “Mystery and Problems Following Death of “Feral” Cat at NC Shelter”

  1. I was just told that Harnett drowns their ferals in a big tub out back because they are too hard to handle to heartstick. The son of the manager said this, he worked there.

    1. I have worked with the animals in this shelter for over two years. I have talked to and heard from many people who know about this shelter, its practices and its policies, and I have never heard this one. Also I have been out back. There is not a big tub. I have to call bullpuckey on this one.

  2. Is it me but am I right in detecting a certain amount of bitchiness behind the scenes in this story which is affecting the quality of care delivered to unwanted cats? The feral cat gets a very hard deal in general and especially at cat rescue facilities.

    I have always felt that making an assessment about the adopt ability of a shelter cat while the cat is at the shelter is almost impossible because shelters are naturally unnatural places for a cat to be and they are stressful places so how can I cat behave naturally in such a place and express their genuine personality?

    Penny was described as being afraid. That would seem to me to be the normal emotion felt by a cat coming into a shelter. If a cat is said to be of a difficult personality then they are likely to be euthanised, as I understand the operation of shelters. It all seems haphazard to me when life-and-death decisions are made on such a fragile basis.

    1. yes! most cats brought into a shelter will be afraid. not all scared cats are.feral, but people dont always take the time to figure that out. peoples loving pets are euthanized this way. and also, Yes! Ferals get a RAW deal, considering their predicament is WHOLLY caused by inexcusable behavior of irresponsible HUMANS.

      1. I completely concur with you. We have the same ideas about this. It all comes back to us, humans, at the end of the day but the cat is often victimised and the buck past to the cat.

    2. If by “a certain amount” of bitchiness you mean an enormous amount of bitchiness, then yes, you do.

  3. Is there a TNR program in that area, or any chance an offshoot group from the shelter could start a TNR group? In our town we have informal TNR groups, plus a nearby no-kill helps out with trapping for the small TNR groups. I have saved neighbourhood cats, but now help by reposting/retweeting/crossposting shelter animals since having some chronic helalth issues has slowed me down a little. Have cat children of my own, all fixed, spoiled & happy!

  4. Thank you for clearing that up about her only being afraid. I only listed her as “feral” because I had 3 different people message me about writing about the “feral cat Penny” who was killed at the shelter.

    Most shelters willingly label a cat feral just to kill the cat. I have a feral rescue I had to get permission from a shelter director to adopt because ferals are considered unadoptable.

    I’m concerned about 2 things here. Rescues should be allowed to pull feral cats and what are people doing with cats since the shelter won’t take them?

  5. I heard from the Friends group and they said Penny wasn’t really feral. The bad thing about shelters is they’ll use the feral excuse to kill. I asked members of the group who know more to comment and fill in any blanks and any more cases.

  6. This headline and article are incorrect. Penny did NOT come into the shelter as a feral. She was not labeled feral or even semiferal. She was identified as afraid, no more. Two volunteers petted her without incident. Shelter staff interacted with her without incident for what we were told staff claimed was two weeks. Calling her feral here only validates the shelter’s position against feral and semiferal cats, which is completely a non sequitur in the context of this cat. The point is that the shelter decided automatically to kill any cat they feel can be called semiferal or feral in retaliation for the discussion of Penny’s death on the Facebook page.

      1. Shelters are getting out of hand. They kill for any reason or just because it’s kill day. 40+ will be killed Friday at Cabarrus County, Palm Beach kills 80%, Tampa kills all kittens under a certain weight. And the ones who don’t kill immediately are known for not actively treating the sick or injured. One cat in NY has been in her cage 3 days with a ruptured nladder.

  7. The West is aghast at the Chinese and some orientals for killing cats at food while at the same time millions of cats and dogs are killed as “Vermin” in the West !Below is a photo of a “Chinese Cat Slaughter house”, a very disturbing photo.Wonder how the “Shelter homes” slaughter houses look like?

    1. At one time, in the West, they used gas chambers, as you may recall, which although not as bad as the Chinese methods for killing cats were horrible nonetheless. Gas chambers and probably still being used in some places. Also people like Woody enjoy shooting at feral cats. And in Australia they are free to shoot feral cats in some states or poison them so the West and Australia do their fair share of feral cat abuse.

  8. Heartless and totally brainless. Even the most well adjusted cat will react badly confined in a cage in a strange place listening to the howls of strange dogs and the moans of other cats who are just as stressed out asa they are.

  9. Patsy Michele Fowler

    this is so wrong to do kill cat’s that are scared to death and scratch or bite it’s plain wrong no reason to kill a cat

  10. Patsy Michele Fowler

    this is so wrong to do the cat’s can’t help but get scared to death as in bite or scratch it’s not there fault

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