LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Almost 100,000 stray cats are roaming Lee County streets - a longtime problem exhausting animal shelters, and their budgets. But one local woman is spending her time and money to help keep the feline population under control.
Nine kennels, 12 litter boxes, and 14 cats is earning Priscilla Thompkins a new-found nickname.
"The cat lady? It's ok with me. I'm ok with that," Thompkins said Wednesday.
The self-proclaimed cat lady is a volunteer with Lee County Animal Services free "Trap-Neuter-and-Release" program. Each week, she spends hours catching and bringing in dozens of strays to get fixed - a service helping cut down on the cat population overwhelming local shelters.
"These cats will then be sterilized and vaccinated so they won't be breeding anymore. And a lot of the behaviors a lot of people find as a nuisance will be eliminated once they're sterilized," Ria Brown of Lee County Animal Services said.
Thompkins has her work cut out for her- there's an estimated 99,000 ferrel and free-roaming cats in Lee County, an epidemic she's trying to curb as she tends to cat colonies across Southwest Florida.
"I'm trying to get people together to maybe just take care of your little block in your neighborhood. You know there's a stray cat or two there, let's get them fixed before that stray cat turns into twenty stray cats," Thompkins said.
The strays are normally released back where they were found, but a lucky few have found shelter with Thompkins- a pit stop until she finds them a permanent place to call home.
"It's really just kind of grown, I really don't want 14 cats, I'd like to find great homes for most of them," Thompkins said.
For more information about Thompkins' work, or for adoption information, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To adopt one of the hundreds of animals available for discounted prices at Lee County Animal Services, call 533-7387.