A colony of feral cats that were spayed and neutered, then released, now need new homes since they have become a nuisance for some.
In a wooden glen near Northlake subdivision, the colony of 17 feral cats live, play and hunt. They also visit homes in the neighborhood just north of downtown Statesboro off North Main Street, and some residents don't like it.
Thanks to efforts by Jessica Hines and a couple of her friends, the cats can no longer reproduce, but they still leave paw prints and scratches on vehicles, get into trash and even cause problems with those allergic to felines, said Bulloch County Humane Enforcement Supervisor Joey Sanders.
Since the cats are technically wild and causing complaints, it is Humane Enforcement's responsibility to trap and remove them, he said.
But Hines fears the cats will be euthanized. She has been caring for the colony for almost two years. She and another woman feed the cats, have provided them small shelters in the woods and have trapped them one by one, paying to have them neutered in an attempt to control their population.
"Some neighbors even help with food. But (Sanders) gave me two weeks to find them homes," she said.
Sanders said his office has received complaints about the feral cats digging into trash, damaging flower beds and, in one case, keeping a child from being able to go outside in her own yard because of a severe allergy to cats.
While he understands and appreciates what Hines is doing, he still has a responsibility to citizens who find the cats troublesome.
"For two years, Ms. Hines has been feeding these cats in a subdivision she doesn't even live in," he said.
While the ones she had neutered won't reproduce, other cats come to join the group, and they do multiply, he said.
Humane officers recently trapped a cat in the area that was not one of Hines' rescues, he said.
"We had our vet check her and believe she is pregnant," Sanders said.
Hines has named all 17 cats, has taken their photos and keeps records of their neutering or spaying and other medical issues.
"I've been truly dedicated to these cats and consider them my family," she said.
She is unable to keep them where she lives. She has her own personal cat, Pooka, a rescue she took in as feral 11 years ago.
The cats available range in all ages and colors. There are blacks, grays, tabbies and several with white markings. Some have longer hair coats.
Hines hopes the cats will all find homes and not be taken to the shelter, where they could possibly be euthanized due to being feral. Some are tamer than others, she said.
"Maybe somewhere, someone needs some barn cats," she said.
For more information on the cats available, contact Hines at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.