Please be a responsible pet owner.

Many sick, injured and orphaned wild birds and animals brought to St. Francis Wildlife are victims of attacks by free-roaming pets, usually cats. If you rescue an animal (squirrel, bird, etc.) from your pet's mouth, it will usually die if it doesn't receive antibiotics. Take it to St. Francis Wildlife right away.


St. Francis Wildlife feels that there is a better way to control homeless, feral cats than typical TNR programs. Returning feral cats to the streets does nothing to protect them from harsh weather, cars, parasites, diseases, fights with other cats and becoming a meal for Great Horned Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, foxes, dogs and coyotes. Subjecting cats to any of these cruel deaths is, at the very least, animal neglect.

These cats also spread disease. Not just rabies, but also feline leukemia. Cat scratch fever, encephalitis and toxoplasmosis spread to other animals, including people, through scratches, bites and feces. Food set out for cats also attracts wildlife, which can facilitate the spread of disease. Volunteer operated TNR programs are hard pressed to annually vaccinate all colony members. Additionally, some cats become wary of traps and cannot be caught for re-vaccination

They also take a tremendous toll on wildlife. Up to 30 percent of all the birds and animals people bring to Florida’s wildlife rehabilitators, including St. Francis Wildlife, are victims of domestic pets, mostly cats. The FWCC reports that a single free-roaming cat may kill as many as 100 or more birds and mammals per year. Feral cats kill many more.

How can any of this be considered humane?

The University of Central Florida began an on-campus TNR program 15 years ago — and its feral cat population has gone from 150 cats to fewer than 10 cats. The reason for their success? An adoption program that found homes for 47 percent of the original cats, and aggressive colony management. Most evidence that TNR alone works to reduce feral populations is anecdotal at best.

Most TNR colonies simply congregate around free handouts provided by a well-meaning cat lover. New cats arrive, people dump unwanted pets, more kittens are born, diseases spread and the cats still kill wildlife. TNR might make animal lovers feel good, but it is not a realistic or humane solution.

St. Francis Wildlife supports making cats indoor pets and containing feral cat colonies (TNR cat colonies) within secure fencing that cannot be breached by the cats from inside or by other animals, wildlife or unsterilized cats, from outside. In addition to food, cats also need veterinary care and protection from adverse weather.

Cat lovers need to focus their energy and resources on socializing and finding homes for feral kittens and creating a truly safe and humane haven for the cats they love and for the other animals, human and wild, that live with them.

Use cat enclosures to safely contain outdoor cats or feral cat colonies: ,

For more information:

• Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding Management of Feral Cats by Trap–Neuter–Return, Conservation Biology, August 2009,
• Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Policy on Outdoor Cats:
• Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) Policy on Feral Cats:
• American Bird Conservancy (ABC) Position on Managed Cat Colonies:

More . . .
Learn how to make your outdoor cat a happy indoor cat.

3. Watch a video from the Humane Society of the United States

4. A safe cat is a happy cat, and outdoor cats are not safe. Inside cats live longer lives.

5. Take the time to help stray animals: Return them to their owners; find them a good home; or take them to a humane shelter, like the Tallahassee Leon Community Animal Service Center.

6. Don't abandon an unwanted pet in the wild.
Learn about alternative solutions.

Why the answer to "Oh, Mommy, the (baby squirrel, fawn, cottontail rabbit or other wild species) is so cute; can we keep it as a pet?" should always be "No":

   1. Baby animals may seem tame now, but they will grow into aggressive and unpredictable adults.
    2. Wild animals are happiest when they are wild and free.
    3. They may carry diseases.
    4. There are plenty of wonderful dogs, cats and bunnies at the Tallahassee Leon Community Animal Service Center who need homes. Check out their online kennel.



 Click on the picture above to learn how to help cats and wild birds!

 St. Francis Wildlife Association