Since this is a time sensitive issue and Blogger hasn't put the previous posts back up, I'm recreating the whole story thus far. (EDIT TO ADD: Blogger seems to have put the entries back up but out of order and I doubt the links to them work any more, so I'm leaving this entry up.)
As you probably know, I've been caring for the feral colony at my apartment complex for about four years now. (All the rest of the blog posts are still here, so if you wish to know more, feel free.) We got the cats Trapped-Neutered-Released, with the permission of the apartment complex because the complex wanted the cats out. I pointed out that Trap&Kill does not work and it costs more, so why not let me TNR? With the wonderful, wonderful support of the readers of this blog we raised the necessary funds. We did not catch all of the cats that first time, and when I wanted to TNR again a while later, I had a harder time getting permission because the complex had changed ownership and management. But I did get permission again, along with permission to feed the cats because that is part of having a managed colony. And all was well, or so I thought, until a few days ago.
I'd come out to my balcony to enjoy one of the few comfortable days that AZ has and spotted a humane trap set out nearby. It was locked to a pipe so that no one could remove it. Horrified, I went to look at it and it was, indeed, set with cat food and ready to spring.
I spoke with the office staff who told me that the cats were being removed to the Humane Society. They did not seem fazed when I pointed out that that meant they were being killed immediately. I went back a bit later to speak with the complex's manager (who was not there when I went the first time) and she told me the same thing-- the cats were being caught and taken to the shelter. She said, "At least they're not being killed," and I (again) pointed out that yes they are. Feral cats are unadoptable*. She shrugged and said she understood that I'm an animal lover with a "big heart" (why did that suddenly sound like an insult?) but that this wasn't her decision but that it came from the owners.
She claimed that at least two residents have moved out because of the cats. I... really? I mean, maybe if you have a phobia or a cat hatred... But to move out? Moving is such a pain. I think this may have been an exaggeration. She cited damage from cats (where? I see damage from children, but not from cats...) and spraying from cats (um... they've been neutered. Yes, some cats can spray after being neutered but it's rare... I will admit that Percy sprayed a lot before he was neutered, but, uh, he's gone to Germany...) And one guy, evidently, moved out because "it was too sad to see the cats out in the heat." What is that I don't even-- Okay, sure. Seeing animals in 110+ F degree heat sucks. Seeing humans in that heat sucks too. In an ideal world all domestic cats would be well-treated, indoors only and enjoying their very own a/c throughout awful summers. But it's not an ideal world and I have a very hard time believing that Mr. It's Too Sad would have preferred to have the cats killed.
The manager assured me that she saw my point, offered me some tissues (I admit I broke into tears when she told me they'd already trapped and killed three cats), gave me the phone number for the corporate offices with the cheery admonition that it wouldn't get me anywhere and sent me on my way.
So here we are, a few days later. I have emailed and called everyone I could think of for some help and got a lot of sympathy, a little advice, but not much in the way of hope. I have had no response from MEB (the leasing management company that runs this complex and many, many other ones through AZ, TX and NJ**, which doesn't surprise me. I found out that MEB in Tuscon agreed with TNR, so I have no idea what's going on here.
Maintenance has moved the trap just slightly. I don't think they've caught anyone in the last two days (unless they have traps that I don't know about). [There is currently a bird trying to steal food from the trap.] They've blocked up the drainage tunnels in which the cats used to reside/move about it. They've thrown away all the food and water dishes we've put out for the cats and swept away the stray kibble they've found.
Because this is an (intentionally) public blog I am not going to list here which cats I've seen lately, how many are around, where/when the cats are fed, etc. If you want to know something specific, you can contact me project.cat.AZ@gmail.com Yeah, I just set that up since I realized I didn't have a good way to contact me for this stuff here on the site. (Sorry those of you have tried to get in touch with me recently.)
All I can do right now is keep trying to get in touch with the management company (MEB) and telling them what I think of their animal tactics. And I ask that you do so, too. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 602-279-5515. (Please note that the number I originally put up, the number I got from the complex manager, was their fax number. Clearly, she was being helpful.)
*Feral cats, with a lot of time and patience, can be tamed (in some cases.) I have met several incredibly friendly formal-ferals who were adults when taken into a home. You would never guess that they were feral for their young lives. On the other hand, I've met some kittens who were just past the age of easy-taming who never became fully domesticated. My point here is that yes, it can happen, and when it does, that's awesome. But it is not a viable option for large-scale rescue ala the Humane Society, and thus it is never what happens when you or someone else takes a feral cat to them.
**Yes, that seems a weird spread to me, too. Here's their website: http://www.mebapts.com/MEB/index.aspx