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  • suzannenorquist

Miami Beach Cat Colonies

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

This blog is about actual cats. Not some cute thing called a cat colony, like a retirement home or sports bar.

Recently, I vacationed in Miami Beach. One morning, I went for an early walk in hopes of catching the sunrise over the ocean. The last thing I expected to see was a plethora of stray cats. The sight of them slinking around and hiding in the shadows of the pre-dawn light kind of creeped me out. Where did all these cats come from?

Then I noticed little piles of cat food on the sidewalk. And I saw this sign about a monitored cat colony. And, by the way the cat on that sign is much cuter than any of the actual cats.

In the old days we called them strays. More recently, I’ve heard them called feral cats. The people of Miami Beach don’t want to call them homeless because, “The beach is their home.”

When I was growing up, we fed a stray cat. We sort of shared her with the neighbors and called her Mama Kitty because she always showed up pregnant. She would have the kittens and we would find homes for all of them. I don’t think it ever occurred to anyone to have the vet put a stop to that.

Instead, we took her and one of her kittens to live at a friend’s place on a farm. They had a mouse problem. That didn’t last for long. Soon sixteen cats were living in the barn.

I live in the country now, and my neighbor always feeds stray dogs and cats. She says they keep the mice and rats away. My new dogs will keep most critters out of my yard.

That is exactly the reason Miami Beach has so many cats in their colonies. In 1912, the mayor imported cats to get rid of rats. Cats wouldn’t swim over to an island themselves.

Fast forward a hundred years to 2013. Over 3,000 cats were turned over to a shelter where they were sterilized and released. That is the way the population is managed now.

And there are registered feeders for these cats. The city code includes cat feeding rules. For example:

The food I saw was directly on the ground, so I’m not sure what to make of that.

What I want to know, is “Do the cats in the colonies appreciate the fabulous sunrise over the ocean?”

And, “How can I get a gig as a beach cat?”

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