Cat colonies are not uncommon in Florida. However, a Southwest Florida woman fears one may be growing in her backyard. Joyce Links says her old neighbors abandoned three cats 5 years ago before they moved away.
Links has been feeding them ever since, taking care of the cats she says aren't spayed or neutered. She tells FOX 4 she asked Animal Services for help but they told her there was nothing they could do.
"They were hungry and I began to feed them," Links said."We're up to 18 to 20 cats."
Links says she feeds dozens of cats twice a day. Animal services received a call from an anonymous neighbor complaining it's a nuisance having dozens of cats roam the streets of their Cape Coral neighborhood.
She's received multiple notices on her door from Animal Services claiming it is illegal to feed stray cats.
"They said I would be fined if I feed these creatures," Links said. "They told me to go and buy traps, trap them myself, take them over to south Fort Myers where they'll be neutered or spayed."
Links says it's an unreasonable request for someone her age. "I'm 75 years old. I really don't have the strength to be doing that."
FOX 4 spoke to neighbors who say they feel forced to feed the cats. "They wait for us at the door sometimes," say Karina Guinart. "Like you see them around looking for food."
Carlos and Karina Guinart have four indoor cats of their own but say stray cats will beg for food until they're fed.
"I love cats but it is a problem that will keep growing and growing and growing."
The Guinart's tell FOX 4 they've reached out to animal services, too. "They said they cannot do anything, unless they're getting harmed by a person. That's so weird"
FOX 4 reached out to Lee County Domestic Animal Services to find out what can be done. A representative with the office told FOX 4 the call would be returned in the morning.
In the meantime, Links says she'll take care of the strays she's grown to love. "I'm always for the underdog, so to speak. In this case, the under-cat."