A week ago, Loews Hotels at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, sparked the outrage of cat lovers everywhere by announcing (more like burying a comment in a two-month-old Facebook post) that they had decided to trap and remove their managed feral cat colonies.
The day the news broke, my fellow Catster writer, Dorian Wagner, formed a Facebook page called Save Loews Cats, a central location for updates to the situation and for information about how people could take action to inspire Loews to reverse their decision.
That afternoon, Alley Cat Allies issued a press release condemning Loews’ decision as hypocritical and heartless. "Loews markets itself as a ‘pet-friendly’ company, but the truth is more sinister," said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. "Loews refused to consider humane options for the cats despite our and others’ repeated invitations to work with the company to address their concerns."
Some good news emerged from Orange County Animal Services on March 30. The Save Loews Cats crowd contacted the organization through its Facebook page, with a request for information and an offer to help take care of any feral felines brought to the shelter by Critter Control, the wildlife pest removal company Loews hired to get rid of the cats.
"Yes they are having the cats trapped and bringing them here," OCAS responded. "We are working hand-in-hand with CARE Feline TNR, Inc. to ensure the cats are relocated safely and as quickly as possible. CARE could certainly use any help in finding suitable colony locations to relocate the kitties, so thank you for reaching out to them. We are committed to ensuring nothing happens to these cats except to live out their lives as healthy, happy community cats!"
So far, OCAS has been living up to its word. The organization has alerted CARE every time a Loews cat has come to its shelter. A big thumbs-up to Orange County Animal Services for recognizing the value of well-managed feral cat colonies and for their willingness to work with CARE to get these cats safely relocated.
But outrage increased once again after photos of the trapped cats were released. One cat was trapped Friday and four others were captured and delivered to the local county shelter on Monday. Nonprofit group CARE Feline TNR has stepped up to bail them to avoid euthanasia. CARE volunteers have been deeply saddened by the state of these once-healthy cats after being trapped, sharing photos of the cats with bloody noses, covered in urine — signs that trapping is not being done humanely.
“I’m beyond shocked Loews would do this,” says one employee who asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing their job. “Loews allows other indoor ‘domesticated’ pets inside the hotel in close proximity to children and other guests. No one knows the temperament of a dog or any pet. As staff, we know of the persistent problems of fleas and dog urine in the guest rooms."
But those cats are safe now, recovering from their injuries and shock in the care of a feral-savvy foster home.
Yesterday, nationally syndicated pet columnist Steve Dale, wrote an article on Cat Channel to share the news of Loews’ callousness toward its community cats with his readers, too.
The trapping continues, and the rescue efforts continue. CARE is an all-volunteer organization, and they need all the help we can give them so they can continue to bail out the Loews cats and find homes for them — and continue to care for the other colonies they’re managing.
How else can you help? You can contact Loews management and voice your concerns (in a polite way, please). If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #saveloewscats and tag @Loew_Hotels when you share news about the Loews cats.
And if you’re planning to vacation in Orlando, remember that you have many choices in hotels … and that there are only three that have decided to kick feral cats to the curb.