Controversy Over Church Putting Up Barricade To Block Cat Feeders


It’s a battle between cats and St. Jude Catholic Church in Tequesta, Florida.

For years, parishioners have been feeding the cats that live behind the church. For many, they thought it was their calling to take care of the 25 cats and leave food for them.

But that all recently changed.

After getting complaints from a neighboring condo, the church built a 6-foot-high chain-link fence to prevent the cats from reaching the cat feeders. The church also said they wanted to keep the cats off the fenced-in property.

Some animal-loving parishioners are frustrated over how the church has handled the situation and that the church has prevented them from feeding the cats and catching them to spay/neuter them. They feel that if nothing is done for the cats, they will continue breeding and the cat population will increase.

Several have left the church because of the controversy.

“Because it’s on church property, we’re dealing with a moral issue; we’re Catholic. It really makes me embarrassed that I’m a Catholic. I’m so disgusted with these people,” a former parishioner said.

In response, church officials said they want to solve the possible health hazard of the roaming cats. A church spokeswoman said that St. Jude’s is hiring a professional trapper to remove the cats from the church to a safe environment where they will not be a health hazard or nuisance.

About a year ago, the church allowed two parishioners to capture the cats. The two volunteers caught some of the cats, and took them to the vet so they could be vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and have an overall checkup. Some of the cats were even adopted into homes.

The church has now asked police officers to look out for trespassers during nightly patrols of the area.

Source: Palm Beach Post

(Thanks Mary)

42 Responses to “Controversy Over Church Putting Up Barricade To Block Cat Feeders”

  1. shibadiva says:

    What would Saint Francis do?

  2. Mikken says:

    Not only unChristian, but also uninformed. These folks need some serious TNR education and realize that the solution is to allow the caretakers to do their job.

    I could see leaving the church over such a thing. One expects more compassion from those who profess to teach it…

  3. CGP says:

    This is my problem with organized religion. When given the opportunity to actually practice Christianity, many turn a blind eye to the problem. I would find another church that actually practices what it preaches. Glad to see some parishioners are doing the right thing.

  4. Radcliff, Allie, Luna, & Ozzie says:

    We’re not sure which bothers us more, the overall pointlessness of that fence, or the total lack of understanding of the folks in charge of that church.

    The only thing missing is someone blaming the stray cats on George Bush, and that is probably coming shortly.

  5. Nora and Rufus says:

    This is not a blind eye to these cats plight. This is an organized, determined effort to deny care to and neglect (starve) these cats who have been cared for in the past by the parishoners. This shows cold-hearted unchristianlike behavior by humans who are posing as Godly. Poor Kitties.

  6. janet says:

    In St. Paul MN they are live trapping feral cats, neutering them and releasing them back where they found them. The feral cat population will slowly decrease. A no kill shelter in the area is working with the city officials.

  7. catmom5 says:

    This is stupid beyond words! TNR would certainly result in a much smaller, healthier colony in the future. These poor cats have done nothing wrong ~ they are just trying to survive. How uncompassionate this church is! Not a good message to send about how “God-loving” folks act.

  8. MilesandBen says:

    Well I guess it makes sense that they would do this since many religious people believe that animals have no souls, including cats.

  9. Nancy G. says:

    Does anyone wonder where this “safe environment” is, where the trapped cats “will not be a health hazard or a nuisance”? Kitty heaven, perhaps? Dumped out in the woods, miles from anywhere? I’d really look into this. This church is disgusting. “Whatsoever you do unto the least of my creatures, you do unto Me.” It’s tests like this that pop up in one’s life that prove where your heart and your values really lie.

  10. Judy says:

    This makes me sick, people were trapping and neutering and instead of keeping that up and continueing to feed these cats they are having police patrol to make sure no one will feed.

    Yes I’m sure that “safe environment is kitty heaven. Professional trapper usually = death.

    They could have let the parishioners catch, vacinate and neuter all the cats. There would be no health concerns, a managed feral colony is a healthy colony and if they have any rodents the cats would take care of that too.

    I hope they have rats infect their church although I’m sure they would have no problem dealing with more killing.

  11. mittens says:

    TNR is the most humane manner and ultimately effective way to deal with feral cat populations. eventually through attrition- fixed and spayed cats dont have kittens- the colony shrinks and is gone- problem solved, no cats hurt or starved to death.

  12. Carol Johnson says:


  13. Traci says:

    What would St. Francis say?

  14. Traci says:


    “shibadiva says:

    October 24th, 2007 at 10:04 am
    What would Saint Francis do?”

    I hadn’t even read the comments, not even yours!
    (We must stop meeting like this ;O) )

  15. Jenny Bark says:

    I agree with most all of you. I am a christian & no church is going to take that away from me. A whole lot of churches believe animals don’t have souls.

    I get in to it with a lot of pastors because I believe animals have souls. C.S. Lewis & Peter Kreeft (who pastors like to quote) & a lot of other people not only believe but are convinced that animals in general but pets in particular will be restored in the resurrection. Finally the Scriptures from first to last suggest that animals have souls. Both Moses in Genesis and John in Revelation communicate that the Creator endowed animals with souls. In the original Languages of Genesis 1:20 and Revelation 8:9, nephesh and psyche respectively refer to the essence of life or souls. Not until Descartes and Hobbs and the Enlightenment did people think otherwise about animals.

    If you go or are going to that church get up and tell them what I just said & watch them try to defend themself. If they know anything about the old Bibles they will know you know what you are talking about if that doesn’t work on those stupid people PROEST in the streets & put this on at least 1 big sign. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).

    I hope some people protest in frount of that church. Imo they will kill the cats if not, but I also believe they will be juged on killing them by someone a whole lot more powerful than us humans. Good book to get “The Bible Answer Book” by Hank Hanegraaff.

  16. shibadiva says:

    LOL, Traci! ;o)

    I like to think there’s a place beyond the Rainbow Bridge where we can go rather than ending up in a Heaven where Humankind has self-declared dominion over everything on the planet.

  17. 2CatMom says:

    You’d think the Catholic church has enough problems dealing with the bad publicity of rampant child molestation by their clergy.

    They really need to give those church authorities more to do with their time, they obviously have way too much time to spend on illegal and immoral activities.

    How about washing some lepers’ feet? Or feeding the poor (which would include cats IMHO)?

  18. Nancy G. says:

    I was wondering, how can cops stop people from feeding those cats, if they are not on church property? Is there some law against it? If not, they are way out of their league, they are arbitrarily stopping people from doing something that there is no law against. The police and the church have no legal right to do this. Someone needs to hire a lawyer.

  19. Patty P says:

    Ok guys, here’s the church’s email address:

    Shall we dance?

  20. Nancy G. says:

    Oh, I see, it is a vacant lot that is church property. And a “Snow Bird” [retiree to Fla. from up north] who recently moved to the adjacent condo who complained to the city, and even put up signs telling others to take down the license numbers of those feeding the cats. And a police officer who ran down a list of terrible things that could happen to cats left ‘in the open’- fights, injuries, disease- and said humane euthanasia would be better for feral cats. So now we know what the trappers will do with them. Funny, the church decided all this once someone began making a squawk about the cats. Probably, like most institutions, they just wanted to avoid trouble and took the path of least resistance. I hope the public and the people of Palm Beach are making enough noise that they will rethink their decision, and decide letting the cats stay will be the path of least resistance. As for Mr. Snow Bird, he can always move. Obnoxious fellow…

  21. Nancy G. says:

    And I love the logic of that policeman’s statement. The cats “might” at some future point suffer an injury or illness, so better to have them all put to death now, to forestall such a possibility. What if such thinking were carried over to human beings? Well, global warming would come to a screeching halt, that’s for sure. But before we did away with ourselves to keep us from the possibility of any future suffering, we’d better kill off every elephant, panda, field mouse, minnow and sparrow, to keep them, too, from the possibility of a disease or injury in their own futures.

  22. Jenny Bark says:

    Patty P., I’ll dance. You do good work, THANKS.

  23. 3FURS says:

    Mr. Snowbird must be giving that church a tidy sum to have so much clout. That church is a disgrace. But the big money talks dosen’t it pastor. I will not dignify you with the title father. The Catholic church has many fences to mend, as we all know, and you pull a stunt like that. For Shame !!!
    I hope your church is empty because of this…Mr. Snowbird will be your sole source of money.

  24. Traci says:


    Regarding St. Francis and animals.

  25. 2CatMom says:

    Guess right to life pretty much ends once you or an animal is born.

    They really should call it right to birth.

  26. Amanda says:

    Horrible!!! I hope someone rescues those cats before the professional trapper gets them. If one of these people lives out in the country, take them all to your house there and give them a safe home.

    I never have liked catholic churches. Both my parents were raised catholic but left the minute they turned 18 because they didn’t believe what was taught there. My boyfriend is catholic and wants to get married in the catholic church but I have outright refused. I’d rather remain single than ever get married catholic!

  27. Nancy G. says:

    Before we get into a theological spat here, let’s remember that St. Francis was Catholic… unfortunately, like anything else on earth, most of the church [any church] is made up of humans, fallible humans. It’s when they claim infallibility that the institution springs leaks…

  28. Trudy Jackson says:

    That is so cruel. To feed them and then take that away. They would starve. They have been taught to depend on people. They need TNR. what’s wrong with this preacher?
    I will write to the church. Also, i think We should send this on to some news people. People have to be made aware of what’s going on. and I don’t think there’s much time to spare.

  29. Trudy Jackson says:

    I just sent this to all my cat lists. there are hundereds of people. What about sending it to TNR?

  30. CD says:

    This is actually a pretty good example of the Catholic Church dark side (IMO). Dictating what the faithful should do, think, believe. Taking down license numbers! Making sure the cats cannot get the food they have come to depend on! (yes, I am a recovering Catholic)

    There are so many ways to handle this. St. Jude’s chose the heartless path.

    I am also sending to a TNR group I know, but we’re far away from Florida. Is there a way to know how local groups might be handling? I would not trust anything done under the auspices of this church. I would hope the colony could be relocated without their knowledge of where they went.

    I love the idea of media picking this up—maybe someone out there knows a source? Not only an opportunity to educate about TNR but also to give options for others who might be dealing with similar things.

    How about this as an idea for a PSA: We’ll get a St. Francis-look alike actor….he can give suggestions for how to handle a TNR situation. Though it sounds like nothing would embarass this place that calls itself a church.

  31. Nancy G. says:

    contact Alley Cat Allies, maybe they have a branch in the area and can educate the church about trap- spay- neuter and how beneficial it is. This happened in the past year with a feral colony in the DC area, sort of the same thing, they had been taken care of for years and someone came along who didn’t like the idea, wanted them out, and after a huge outcry and education from Alley Cat Allies, they relented. I agree, these cats must be nearing starvation by now, or else they have wandered off, trying to find food. What sort of church condones, even encourages, cruelty to other living things, and making them suffer?

  32. Joe says:

    Catholic leaders make another bad decision…what a shock…

  33. Trudy Jackson says:

    I wrote to all My cat groups and they wrote hundreds of letters to the church. And they also writing to the media. Yeah. Maybe We can hope something will be done to save the.

  34. Trudy Jackson says:

    I have been on this all day. I wrote to the church, the lady who wrote the article and TNR. I have written to the woman who quit the church because of this. and all My friends are still writing. I would help them all, but i’m in N.C. with no money.
    But I’m still trying to get something done.

  35. CD says:


    Just wanted to say thanks for all your action on this.
    You’re in good company–St. Francis was stuck in Italy with no money too–and he managed to get a whole lot of things done…..


  36. Trudy Jackson says:

    Cd, thanks.
    Please read this- I wrote to one of the ladies who left the church and She was writing back to Me when She had to send and go. this is what i received

    thank You for any help. I cannot write now, just got a call that there may be trouble [trapping] at the church now. Please do what You can. Alert everyone and have them send many e-mails.
    Saint Judes Catholic Church
    Tequesta, Fl.
    Diocese of Palm Beach

    That’s what She wrote. Please help!

  37. CD says:

    Hi Trudy–
    I wonder what is going on there? And have local groups tried to intervene? They’d have the best chance for success since they know the resources there.

    I’ll send this on to some folks I know also and we’ll send some emails…, when will I ever have a chance again to write to Pope Benedict!! ;)

    What I find chilling is that they are trying to prevent anyone from feeding them. That is cold hearted, calculated cruelty.

    thanks …

  38. Kevin says:

    Most religious people are hypocrites and this church just proves it. These are Gods creatures. I’d leave also.

  39. Kittencub says:

    My god! This is not right!That is not fair to these poor cats who are just innecent cats who are looking for food! Its sad, and i hope someone sues them…. if they can.

  40. Madeleine says:

    Ah, all in the name of St. Francis of Assisi I suspect. The Catholic Church is certainly showing itself to be an example of non-charity and inhumanity. I would expect St. Francis is turning in his grave about now.

  41. Anonymous says:


  42. jean says:

    I love animals and feel these guys are not being given a chance. They are still being fed “outside the fence” by some very kind people. I may be considered one of those, but will never admit to it as I might be consided a criminal. I have an adopted dog and adopted cat and it breaks my heart to know these kitties may not have a meal. Whatever happened to kindness to animals??

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