Q: I’ve been reading about the situation with feral cats at Loews resorts in Orlando. What will happen to these cats, and what can I do?
A: Alley Cat Allies has been working to protect the Loews feral cats since January. For those of you who haven’t been following the situation, here’s a quick breakdown:
Early this year, new management at three Loews hotels in Orlando, Florida (Loews Royal Pacific, Loews Portofino and Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resorts), ordered the trapping and removal of healthy, neutered cats from the properties — cats who had been cared for by employees and volunteers for years through a successful and previously company-endorsed Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. Alley Cat Allies was contacted by an understandably distressed caregiver. We reached out to Loews asking the new management to halt the cat trapping and offered assistance to sustain and enhance the humane program that was working for everyone.
Despite our offer and the advice of local animal groups, Loews decided to continue trapping and removing the feral cats.
Loews has ordered caregivers — some of whom are employees — to stop feeding the cats or risk being escorted from the property or fired. The “pet-friendly” hotel chain hired a pest control company to trap the cats, who were then left in the hot sun for hours with no food or water. So far, 15 scared, hungry cats have been torn from their home and their families, and delivered by Loews’ trapper to the local animal control shelter, some with bloody injuries from trying to escape their traps. (Read more about the issue and Alley Cat Allies’ Loews feral cat involvement here.)
All along, Loews has tried to gloss over what’s really going on here, quietly announcing in a comment on its Facebook page that the cats were being “relocated to a shelter.” But the truth is that feral cats trapped and brought to shelters are almost always killed.
Alley Cat Allies has been working closely with a small local group, CARE Feline TNR, whose volunteers thankfully and generously rescued all of the cats brought to the shelter from Loews. We’re relieved that Shadow, Oreo and all of the other cats trapped by Loews are now out of danger.
These cats are still alive. But they had a home — their feral cat colonies at the Loews hotels — and lost it because of a decision that Loews won’t adequately explain.
The cats are safe for now, but hundreds of their counterparts are moving through the local shelter on a weekly basis. No rescue group is able to pick up the cats deemed “fearful” and return them to their outdoor home. These cats are given three days to find a home, or they are killed. If not for compassionate volunteers, the Loews cats would be facing the same fate.
Relocating feral cats is a long, difficult process. And, there just aren’t enough farms — or households willing to live with an unsocialized cat — to accommodate all the feral cats.
This is why Alley Cat Allies is fighting so hard against Loews’ relocation myth.