Clay County nonprofit working to solve feral cat problem

CLAY COUNTY, Fla – A local nonprofit is working to solve the county's feral cat problem, which has been documented for several years. The group is Community Critter Care of Clay County, and its goal is to cut down on the number of feral cats by taking the humane approach, through TNR. That's "trap, neuter, release."

Jane Hawley and her volunteers with Community Critter Care say while the problem of feral cats isn't limited to Clay County, there have been several recent complaints.

"Some people are adamant that they're going to poison the cats," Hawley said. "They're going to shoot the cats."

By using traps, the volunteers catch these animals, take them to be spayed or neutered at a local clinic. Hawley says Clay Humane Society opens its doors every Wednesday to spay/neuter trapped, feral cats and vaccinate each for rabies at no charge.

"Without them, it wouldn't be possible to do what we do," Hawley said.

From there, the cats are released back into the community. The goal is for them to be fed and properly cared for. Hawley says she is grateful to have the support of the Clay County commission and the Orange Park town council.

When trapping the cats, the idea is to be as gentle as possible. One way is through the box trap, which can trap 2 or 3 cats at one time. It is an open, lightweight box with one side help up by a small, thin platform attached to a string. While the cats are eating, the trapper would then pull the string, causing the elevated side to fall, trapping the cats inside.

Hawley says neighbors have a way of coming around once they see the group's mission.

"Once they learn and understand that they're not reproducing, they tend to settle down a little bit," Hawley said.

Saturday, the group is holding a workshop to teach people how to humanely handle feral cats in their neighborhoods. That includes learning how to use the traps.

Hawley says the group can also help with deterring nuisance behavior in neighborhood feral cats. The workshop will run from 2:00 to 3:00 this Saturday. It is free to attend and is being held at Orange Park Presbyterian Church. The address is

1905 Park Avenue in Orange Park.

Community Critter Care of Clay County, Inc., holds monthly meetings, educational workshops and assists the Clay County area with situations involving Community Cats. Please contact us through our email: claycrittercare@gmail.com. You can also reach out through the group’s Facebook page.

Hawley says the group could always use more volunteers.

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