22 Jan 2021
Every so often, you might see some wildlife just looking out the window. Turtles, marsh rabbits, and...cats?
Yes, Southwest Florida (and Sanibel and Captiva) have felines roaming about. Some may very well be domesticated and savvy enough to be outdoors part of the day and make it home safe. Guest blogger Matt (who lives on Sanibel) said that he would sometimes see a cat from someone in the neighborhood who comes once a year. Apparently, this tabby knew the layout well enough to go out and come back without any trouble, "which would upset my indoor cats, seeing an invader encroaching their territory. When my parents first moved to Florida from New England in 1993, I made them promise not to let our previously-outdoor cat go outside. My argument was that the house was too close to Sanibel-Captiva Road and the Wildlife Refuge and that if she were to get lost, we would not be able to look for her in the Refuge. "
However, many cats and kittens you may see in the woods are actually wild and fearful of humans. Some are tolerant, which was the case years ago with a white cat often seen at the Tween Waters Resort on Captiva and came to be known as "Sailor." If you see one that looks like it may need assistance, you may want to call upon the Protection of Animal Welfare (PAWS) of the Islands. They have been working to protect felines and make sure they have a chance to remain healthy and find forever homes for stray or abandoned felines, also documenting and microchipping feral cats for future reference and tracking. Like other Florida locations, feral cat populations are being controlled through a TNR program (Trap, Neuter, Release) to prevent over-population and ecological problems.
It's not illegal to feed or (more likely to be successful) leaving food for feral cats, but feeding and forgetting may lead to cats becoming a nuisance on your property, as they look to you as a source of food rather than a friend. Also, be careful of any cat you "rescue," because you may get more than you expect. You may have heard about a woman in Tennessee that thought she was rescuing a stray kitten that turned out to be a bobcat.
So, if you see a cute and furry little bundle of joy while you are on the islands, you may want to call PAWS of the Islands at (239) 472-4823 or the Care and Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) at (239) 472-3644.
This blog is hypoallergenic for those that have cat allergies.
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