Written by Becky Robinson, founder and president of Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to protection and humane treatment of cats
There is an emergency situation at Loews Royal Pacific, Loews Portofino and Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resorts in Orlando, Florida. For months, Loews was considering a plan to remove cats who have lived on the property for years. Alley Cat Allies, along with others, reached out, offered guidance and assistance and hoped that Loews would make the right choice and allow the cats to stay in their home.
Instead, Loews made a cruel decision—without ever taking Alley Cat Allies and others up on their expertise with feral cat colonies—that is having tragic consequences for the cats.
Here is what is happening, according to our contacts on the ground.
Loews has forbidden anyone from feeding the cats. Employees have been threatened with disciplinary action—or losing their jobs—if they don’t comply. The cats are being trapped by a pest control company, Critter Control, that is clearly not following humane best practices.
We have heard reports of cats being held in the traps outside for hours. The average temperature in Orlando in the past five days has been 89 degrees; today’s heat index is expected to be 97 degrees. There is no indication that proper protocol for trapped cats—visiting the traps every hour, keeping them covered with a towel to minimize the cats’ anxiety, and removing them promptly—is being followed.
We’ve already seen at least two cats with bloodied noses because they were frantic to get out of their traps. Last night, we saw a picture of Shadow, a beautiful gray tabby, with a visible gash in her forehead. We also heard that hotel guests have witnessed this cruelty and complained to hotel staff about the cats’ treatment.
Loews goes to great pains to sell itself as an animal-friendly hotel. But let’s recount what has happened to the cats: These vaccinated, healthy, neutered cats have been denied food for MORE than a week, trapped in terrible conditions, and taken from their colony—their family and their home.
For each person who patronizes a Loews hotel, with a pet in tow or not, here is what you need to understand: these cats on the Loews property are completely healthy. They have a family in their fellow colony members. They have formed bonds and relationships with their caregivers for years. My feral cat Clara hasn’t let me pet her in the seven years she’s been in my life. But she greets me every morning. Our bond is unmistakable.
Imagine if you were told you couldn’t feed the animals in your life and had to watch them starve. And now imagine walking by them as they are trapped for hours in the blazing sun, knowing you risk losing your job if you try to help.
This injustice must stop. I call on Loews to end this trapping immediately.
Photo from bfishadow via flickr