Feral Cat Society and Cardinals Fight for Cat Custody

feral cat / Michael Newton

August 17th, 2017; St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Honestly, it not is wise to rile the small nonprofits and volunteer groups that attend to this nation’s feral cats; they and their charges are fierce!

A public custody battle has arisen over the fate of a young cat who streaked across the Busch Stadium outfield last week. He was caught by a volunteer associated with the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach, which has named him Rally Cat. After finding their moment of fame, Outreach has accused the Cardinals, who committed to care for the cat, of bullying them to get the kitty back.

“We’ve had thousands of inquiries from throughout the region, including many great organizations like the St. Louis Cardinals, in addition to many cat-loving individuals about adopting Rally,” the center said, adding that it already has an adoption process, and that Rally’s interests have to be considered first.

Here is the statement that they have on their Facebook page:

It was a disappointment to STLFCO and many of our friends and fans to read the Cardinal’s PR Head Ron Watermon’s comments to the media concerning Rally. It was a totally false statement that STLFCO has committed anything to the Cardinals. We have made no decisions about Rally’s long-term placement. It seems inconsistent with “The Cardinals Way” to make such false statements.

We have neither the PR staff nor the skilled volunteers to engage in a media dialog with Mr. Watermon’s old-school PR tactics, so this note will be all we have to say on his position.

We had contacted Mr. Watermon earlier this week and we just now got a voicemail reply from him. Our Board Member team consists of non-paid volunteers who have full time jobs outside of STLFCO. Due to our many commitments and complex schedules, we told the Cardinals we’d be delighted to meet later this month, the first time the entire group can meet with them to discuss the situation. Perhaps we can find a way to reach out to the Senior Leadership of the Cardinals (the Dewitts, Mike Whittle, etc) and meet with them, as Mr. Watermon’s perceived bullying tactics shocked us.

We really want to meet with the Cardinals to discuss this opportunity for a win-win-win-WIN for Rally, the Cardinals, STLFCO, and the city of St Louis. STLFCO is a tireless advocate for all homeless cats in the region—and a great friend to many local animal welfare organizations. We truly want what is best for Rally and for every vulnerable cat in St Louis. We hope to connect with other members of Cardinal’s management shortly.

Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, team owner Bill DeWitt has instructed staff “to plan a formal ‘welcome home’ ceremony next week when the Cardinals return from their road trip,” Watermon said. The ceremony will also honor the outreach center’s volunteers who helped rescue the cat, and the feral cat folks’ work would get a big public boost. But is living at a public stadium with mascot duties a proper placement for a feral kitten?

Apparently, plans to help raise awareness are proceeding with the scheduling of a Rally Cat appreciation day to help raise money for the outreach center on September 10th.

Meanwhile, not for nothing, but I am proud neighbor to a feral cat colony and picking one of those critters up, even if they are very small, would be taking your life in your hands. Is Rally really feral at all? (Just asking).—Ruth McCambridge