Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

How Many Cats Are Too Many? 170 Maybe; Jacksonville Couple Kept the Feral Animals at Their Properties in Jacksonville and Middleburg

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

How Many Cats Are Too Many? 170 Maybe; Jacksonville Couple Kept the Feral Animals at Their Properties in Jacksonville and Middleburg

Article excerpt

Byline: Dana Treen

A Jacksonville woman who said she and her husband spent $700 weekly caring for about 170 feral cats at their properties in Jacksonville and Middleburg wanted to control the animals but became overwhelmed by the task.

"We just couldn't keep up with them," said Linda Weinberger, who along with her husband, Henry, turned the cats over to animal control authorities after complaints in one of the neighborhoods. The Weinbergers lived at a home in Julington Creek but visited the other properties as often as they could, she said.

At least 68 cats kept in two houses in Jacksonville have been euthanized because they were too ill or wild for adoption, said Scott Trebatoski, division director of Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services.

He said he's seen worse but never at multiple properties owned by the same person.

Linda Weinberger said Wednesday the fault falls partly on her shoulders but she is not convinced she fits the profile of a hoarder.

"This all started with a wonderful feral cat named Benny" in the 1990s, she said. Then came other cats the couple also fed and soon there were more and more.

She said the cats were not malnourished and she did not believe they were sick. In addition to food and other supplies, the Weinbergers spent thousands on veterinary visits, she said.

Weinberger, 71, and her husband, 69, hoped to find someone who could help manage the cats.

"Our plan was to have them all spayed and neutered and inside where they would be safe," said Weinberger, who works as a tax preparer.

When animal care workers arrived at the Weinbergers' home on Steeplechase Lane, they could smell the stench of ammonia from the driveway, Trebatoski said. Feces was found both bagged and an inch deep in the main living room, he said.

After finding 43 cats there, the Weinbergers were asked if there were cats anywhere else and told of other properties they owned including Crumpet Court in Jacksonville. Twenty-five cats were found there.

In Clay County, more than 100 were found Tuesday by workers in protective suits who entered a three-bedroom mobile home and two outbuildings on Ten Rod Road. …

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