JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You may have made a trip to the Regency Square Mall and never seen the feral cat population. But they are there in big numbers.
"I'm gonna say there are between 85 and 90 cats," said Judy Butt. "They're all in 10 or 11 different sections or colonies."
Butt is a caregiver and last week mall management told her to stop feeding the cats. "I am not happy," said Butt. "I'm an animal lover."
Rolando Ruiz is also a caregiver, he's afraid if they are not fed, the cats they will die. "These cats have a life and we should take care of them," he said.
For years these caregivers take food and water to the mall property, sometimes in the middle of the night.
Jim Kramer is the General Manager of the mall. "We've had a lot of people abandoned cats on our property. We now have a feral colony in excess of 150," said Kramer.
Kramer said his main concern is customer safety and controlling the population. "I'm worried about diseases, about a child getting hurt or bitten by one of the cats," said Kramer. He said they told caregivers to stop feeding the cats so they can trap them.
"They need to coordinate with us," said Kramer. "It is private property and they take it upon themselves to do whatever they want."
Kramer said his plan is to take the cats to First Coast No More Homeless Pets to be spayed/neutered and then return them to their colonies. Rick DuCharme, the executive director, confirmed that is the plan. "That's what the mall would like to do and that's what we would like to help them to do," he said.
DuCharme said battles between caregivers and property owners are not unusual. But the fact is it is private property and it is illegal to feed feral cats on private property.
The mall management plans to met with No More Homeless Pets so they can begin the process and they they just need the caregivers to stop feeding the feral cats until it is over.