When Linda Anderson moved into her Glendale, Ariz., apartment in July of 2009, a group of eight stray and feral cats living at her new digs caught her eye. She decided she wanted to do the small colony a favor.
“It really disturbed me that they were hungry,” she said. So she began a daily routine of putting out food and water for the cats.
Unfortunately, her kindness caused her to run afoul of her apartment complex’s rule against feeding feral cats.
It seemed that the owners of her building were content to let her go about her business, as long as she didn’t let the situation get out of control.
Then, six months ago, Mark-Taylor Residential bought the apartment complex. Shortly afterward, Anderson was warned against feeding the cats.
Now she has been given until Thursday to vacate her apartment.
Anderson admits she ignored several warnings from building management. In fact, she had been given her first eviction notice in January, but she was allowed extra time to find a new place to live.
“All Mark-Taylor residents sign a lease asking them to place a priority on the health and safety of fellow residents,” said Kim Atkinson, a Mark-Taylor spokesperson. “While respecting the privacy of each resident, we feel this case falls into an area where health and safety has become a primary concern.”
Anderson believes the rules against feeding feral cats are unfair. “I know there are many humane ways to deal with feral and abandoned cat populations,” she said.
But Mark-Taylor isn’t the only housing company with rules against feeding wild cats. Other apartment complexes in the area, as well as a number of towns and cities in the United States, have passed bans on feeding feral cats.
The City of Glendale does not have an official policy on feral cats, but it does recommend using the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control’s trap, neuter and return (TNR) method.
According to Maricopa County, the old-style “catch and kill” method of controlling feral cat populations is not effective because once a colony is removed, another will move into the vacuum created by its absence.
When the TNR method is used, the animal control organization said, and cats are humanely trapped, sterilized, and set free back in their colonies, the size of the population slowly decreases because the ferals are unable to breed.
Aprille Hollis, a spokeswoman with Maricopa County AC&C, says that feeding the cats is fine — as long as the feeders also do the necessary work to control the population.
As for Anderson: Having been given her final notice to vacate, she plans to move in with her daughter, who lives in Tucson. And she said that if she comes across more feral cats in need, she will feed them.