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If you watch a colony...something to be aware of....

post #1 of 2
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Tuesday, October 7
Cats roam free after man's death

By pat_moore, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 7, 2003

STUART -- John Tucker cared for dozens of cats that lived in his home on Halpatiokee Street and in his neighborhood.

So when the 76-year-old retired Alaskan pipeline worker died 10 days ago, he left behind more than 40 wild cats roaming the woods behind his home and the yards of his neighbors.

"Call it a cat catastrophe," Tucker's son, Arnold, said Monday as Martin County animal control workers began trapping the animals, which are estimated to be from 8 weeks to 8 years old.

"It's going to take weeks," animal control officer Christine Polizzi said after trapping four cats, including one kitten that was apparently born blind.

"He did a pretty good job," she said of John Tucker's effort to care for the feral cat colony. "He had all of them vaccinated. He'd neuter all he could catch and take to the vet."

Animal control officers have issued 16 citations to Tucker since 1997, frequently after neighbors complained about cats coming on their property.

"Every time we'd give him a citation, he'd come in and pay fines and get licenses for all of them," Polizzi said.

Martin County commissioners adopted a regulation in February that prohibits all unleashed pets, including cats, from leaving their owner's property. Cats are allowed to stroll neighborhood streets, but only on a leash.

Commissioners passed the ordinance with the intent of reducing the county's feral-cat population, which officials estimate to be anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000, while acknowledging the county's animal control officers couldn't enforce leash requirements.

Some of Tucker's cats that weren't spayed or neutered continued to reproduce kittens that may be young enough for adoption, Polizzi said.

But the older cats live in the wild and tend to be skittish.

"That's why I have to set traps. They're not cats that will come and let you pick them up," she said. "When I got here they scattered everywhere."

Polizzi is taking the cats she captures to the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast, where they will be checked for health and temperament before deciding if they are adoptable.

Shelter business manager David Miller said temperament is a big concern, since the agency wouldn't want to be liable for placing a cat that could harm someone.

"It's a terrible situation for the cats," Polizzi said. "People think feral-cat colonies are such great things and they're saving all these cats, but what happens when the caretaker dies?"

Arnold Tucker and his sister, Connie Tucker, who lives next door to her late father's home, are cooperating with the effort to round up the cats, Polizzi said.

Connie Tucker has cats of her own that she has brought home over the years, she said.

"Every time she found one, she brought it home," Polizzi said. She pointed to a tiny black kitten captured Monday morning, saying, "This one she found in the engine of a car."

Please ensure that you have a person who is willing to care for your colony if something should happen to you.
post #2 of 2
how sad , to bad he did not have any body to take over . Hopefully most of them are able to find homes , I will say a prayer for them
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