The CATalyst: Can Feral Cats Dwell at Hotels?

Steve Dale, CAT FANCY writer and syndicated newspaper pet columnist, provides a weekly cat news roundup.

By Steve Dale, CABC | Posted: February 14, 2012, 3 a.m. EST

Steve Dale
Author Steve Dale

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Finding feral cats on hotel properties anywhere in the world isn’t particularly unusual, especially in warmer climates.

Loews Lets Down Feral Cats
Three stellar Loews properties in Florida had feral cats on their property. Several years ago a bellman took on a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program, as Deborah Barnes details in her blog "Zee and Zoey’s Chronicle Connection." A volunteer group soon came in and effectively did what TNR groups do; I say effectively, because the populations of cats at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando and Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando have been gradually declining.

Then in January, for reasons which remain unclear, Loews reportedly hired a pest control company to “deal” with the cats. Several cats were removed from Hard Rock and summarily euthanized. Bloggers got a hold of the story, then reporters from the traditional press published the news, and a public outcry followed.

By all accounts, Loews stopped the killing – but it’s been absolutely unresponsive, maintaining the cats still need to be relocated for “liability reasons” (whatever that means).

I emailed Loews and attempted to call (repeatedly). Finally, weeks later, I was emailed back a statement which maintains that Loews – known for its dog-friendly policies (which I helped create) – is still “working to find a solution” to its cat problem.

Feral Cats and Hotels Can Coexist
My wife and I happened to be vacationing in Mexico at the El Dorado Royal Spa-Resort by Karisma in Riviera Maya (between Cancun and Playa del Carmen) while awaited Loews’ answer. I noticed some feral cats on the property. It’s interesting that the El Dorado Royal has found a solution, while Loews struggles to find theirs.

No one knows how many cats are on the sprawling tropical paradise property; estimates range from about 10 to maybe twice that many. “We don’t have an organized program for feeding the cats,” says Howard Ruiz, assistant manager of the resort. “Of course, some employees do (feed them), and some guests do as well, which is fine.

The cats are considered like all the nature on the property; they are on their own.”
It’s interesting that some of the cats are friendly, particularly with guests. One guest apparently slept with a cat in her room. As a kitten, that cat was apparently somehow exposed to people and continued to be reinforced with handouts. Most of the cats, though, keep their distance.

El Dorado general manager Jose Carlos Vazquez said the resort is looking into how they might start a TNR program, and are making inquiries to find a willing veterinarian. Also, vaccinating against rabies seems prudent. While the population of cats on the property has, so far, not increased significantly, he knows it’s possible.

When asked if he ever felt the need to remove the cats as Loews desires, Ruiz looked quizzical and responded, “Why? We don’t have a rodent problem, maybe the cats know why. We also believe in being a part of nature. So, unless there’s a danger to guests, we believe we can respect the environment and the animals in it.”

Indeed, El Dorado is proud of their environmentally friendly ways. Crocodiles even reside in a swamp adjacent to the resort. Instead of killing off the crocs, or relocating them, hotel owners constructed a fence to prevent the crocs from an unannounced visit for a massage, but guests are welcome to walk over to see them. Coati, raccoon, iguanas and lots of birds visit as they please.

The cats, too, have taken up residence. People who don’t care for the cats generally walk by them, or might not even notice their presence. Cat lovers find their stay enhanced by the feline company.

Meanwhile, by all accounts, Loews is struggling with what to do about their cat problem, which El Dorado’s Vazquez says, “Isn’t a problem at all.”

Contact Loews With Your Opinion
Loews maintains they are seeking viable suggestions via email. Alley Cat Allies say their offer to help is still on the table although, so far, it has been ignored. Loews might want to contact El Dorado’s management.
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Reader Comments

Kat    Springfield, MO

5/12/2012 2:10:12 PM

We stayed at an extended stay hotel for almost 3 years before getting our nice apt we have now. There always where cats hanging out there. The management posted a notice for residents to not feed them, also that we'd get in trouble if we let them in to warm up in Winter. They stayed around hotels because people throw out fast food bags, ect. Of corse they'll go where food is. This was a good article. I hope all u lil lost kittys find s home. Kat

Samantha    Mission, BC

2/26/2012 1:57:40 PM

interesting.

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

2/20/2012 4:56:58 PM

Interesting update.

Pat    Omaha, NE

2/20/2012 3:58:58 PM

Interesting

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