Loews Hotels in Orlando under fire for inhumane trapping of cats

Oreo Loews Hotels feral cat

The Loews Hotel properties in Orlando, located on the grounds of Universal Studios, had a model feral cat colony until this January, when the management of this self-proclaimed “pet friendly” chain decided that the cats needed to be trapped and taken to local shelters because they presented a threat to guests’ well-being. This decision, sure to be a death sentence for the affected cats, unleashed a firestorm of media outrage, and Loews suspended trapping and said the cats could stay.

Unfortunately, Loews has now reversed course again, and has begun trapping cats. In his article Loews Loathes Cats, which was also picked up by the Chicago Tribune, Steve Dale calls the situation inexplicable, adding that “according to an internal memo, if employees at the hotels feed the cats, this is potential cause for dismissal!”

From Steve’s article:

The resorts are currently trapping feral cats. In the process, some of the animals are getting hurt. “It’s common for some scrapes, but in my 10 years (of trapping) I’ve never seen injuries like these,” says Carol Needham, a volunteer with CARE Feline TNR, a local non-profit that helps feral cats. “The trapping company is apparently not following protocol to keep the cats calm.”

Peter Wolf of Vox Felina reported that the conditions in which these cats are trapped are inexcusable:

On Thursday, Alley Cat Allies co-founder and president Becky Robinson published a letter on the Care2 website in which she criticizes Critter Control, the pest control company hired by Loews, for “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.”

Best Friends Animal Society CEO Gregory Castle recapped the situation in his article Loews Hotels in Orlando Give Community Cats the Shaft earlier this week, calling on readers to contact the Florida Department of Health and urge the agency to reevaluate its position and embrace public policies that serve to better promote human health and compassion toward animals.

Alley Cat Allies is sponsoring a petition to Tell Loews: Stop Hurting Cats that has received more than 21,000 signatures to date.

The thought of what these poor cats are being put through for no reason other than the ignorance and whim of hotel management executives makes me sick to my stomach. Loews says it made the decision to trap to protect their guests from harm, despite the fact that a well-managed feral colony presents no threat to humans.

In fact, Steve Dale’s post mentions a nearby Sheraton property that had a more severe problem than Loews. According to George Ricci, the former bellman at Loews who began the TNR program there (with management’s consent at the time):

“Cats were hanging out (at the Sheraton property) wherever people were — even at the pool — because they’d get handouts. The interactions raised concern, since the hotel didn’t want guests scratched or bitten by cats who were basically wild. They did it exactly right,” says Ricci. “They paid for people who understand TNR. The cats were trapped, spay/neutered and returned, and feeding stations were created and gradually moved away from where guests would see them.”

Please spread the word about the cats’ plight, sign the petitions, and boycott Loews Hotels. For more information on efforts to help these cats, please visit the Save Loews Cats Facebook page.

Photo of Oreo, one of the Loews Hotels feral cats, from the Save Loews Cats Facebook page

19 Comments on Loews Hotels in Orlando under fire for inhumane trapping of cats

  1. Julia Williams
    April 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm (5 years ago)

    The whole thing is just so sad for the cats, who are paying the ultimate price for someone else’s stupidity. I have to wonder what the hotel idiots were thinking, and did they have any idea they were creating such a P.R. nightmare? I do hope this issue continues to be written about, and perhaps one day when their business slumps into the dumps, they’ll get their AHA moment.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm (5 years ago)

      Hopefully, all this pressure will result in the cats being taken care of, Julia.

      Reply
  2. Deb Barnes - Zee and
    April 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you for the post Ingrid – we are all so touched with the amount of support and effort we are getting to helping not only these cats, but hopefully to educate people nationwide about the misconceptions on outdoor community cats. In that regard, thanks to the wonderful efforts of Alley Cat Allies, there will be a protest schedule for this Saturday in Orlando from noon until 2:00 pm. I plan on being there and hope we can get the additional 10,000 signatures before then!
    http://www.causes.com/causes/73605-the-cat-network-inc-official-cause-helping-you-help-homeless-cats/actions/1642103?causes_ref=email&template=activity_mailer%2Fnew_activity&utm_campaign=action_email&utm_medium=email&utm_source=causes

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks for posting the link to the information about the protest, Deb.

      Reply
  3. Sharon Anderson
    April 12, 2012 at 11:35 am (5 years ago)

    “had a model feral cat colony”

    Key word is “had”. You were doing the right thing before. Go back to what worked for everyone, and that includes the animals!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm (5 years ago)

      You are so right, Sharon. That’s what boggles my mind: why did they have to mess with something that was working for everyone, the cats and the guests? As far as I’ve been able to tell from the coverage of this issue, there hasn’t been a single complaint about these cats from a Loews guest.

      Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Layla.

      Reply
  4. Debra Becker
    April 12, 2012 at 10:50 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been watching and posting on my FB page about this issue. So, so sad for these innocent cats.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm (5 years ago)

      It’s very sad, Debra – and it could have been so easily prevented.

      Reply
  5. Caren Gittleman
    April 12, 2012 at 9:15 am (5 years ago)

    fantastic, concise post and thank you for keeping it about the CATS…..the entire issue is about what can be done for the cats, it is the CATS who need to be focused on and thank you for doing that.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Caren. That was my intention: to keep the focus on the cats. They can’t speak for themselves, so it’s up to us who care about cats to do it for them.

      Reply
  6. Max the Quilt Cat
    April 12, 2012 at 7:56 am (5 years ago)

    Excellent post and very important.

    pawhugs, Max

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Max.

      Reply
  7. Marg
    April 12, 2012 at 7:32 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you, thank you Ingrid for this terrific post. It make me so happy to hear that so many people are taking notice of what is going on at that hotel. It makes me sick to my stomach. If I had a way, I would go down there and get those poor cats. As you know, I have many feral cats right here at my house and let me tell you, if someone comes to visit, they would never know that I had any cats. Feral cats are NOT going to bother anyone.
    Anyway, thanks for all this info. Hope they have to close that darn hotel. They should all be put in cages.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm (5 years ago)

      Marg, I know you’d take them all if you could. You, more than anyone, understands the needs of feral cats.

      Reply
  8. Anne from TheCatSite.com
    April 12, 2012 at 6:14 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you for this important post.
    I was aware of the issue, but didn’t know there was a Facebook page for the
    cause. I added my Like from our TCS page at http://www.facebook.com/TheCatSite and will ry and raise awareness through FB as well.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you for helping to raise awareness about this issue, Anne.

      Reply

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