Rescued Cats Get New Lease on Life with Manatee County’s Working Cats Program

Animal Hoarding is a complex issue that encompasses mental health, animal welfare and public safety.   In most areas of Manatee County there is no limit to the number of animals that someone can own, but when an owner is not able to provide minimal standard of care, such as proper nutrition, sanitation, shelter and vet care, Manatee County Animal Welfare will investigate and intervene, to provide assistance to the animals in distress, and to provide resources to the owner for mental assistance.

In many cases, the guardians believe they are helping or saving animals and not recognizing they are placing them in danger.  In most cases, this type of animal neglect is not deliberate, and people tend to believe they are caring for the pets properly.  Unfortunately, animal hoarding can result in the over-breeding of animals, starvation, illness or even death. 

Last month, Manatee County Animal Welfare (MCAW) responded to a home in Myakka City with animals living in deplorable conditions both inside and outside of the home.  Due to the potential harmful level of air quality levels inside the residence, MCAW contacted East Manatee Fire and Rescue for assistance.   They determined that the house was unsafe to enter without proper personal protection equipment.  

Through the investigation it was discovered that there were geese, ducks and other birds living in crates and cages inside, as well as up to 100 cats living in and around the home.   Many of these first-rescued cats were unsocialized and required immediate medical attention. Approximately 30 of them are now ready to transition into the Working Cats program.

The Working Cats program was established in 2019, when MCAW investigated a similar hoarding/neglect case with approximately 20 community cats, that couldn’t be integrated into a safe environment through the traditional adoption program or the Trap Neuter Return program. Recognizing their preference for an outdoor lifestyle, MCAW launched an adoption program to provide these “community” cats with the fulfilling lives they desire while also offering a valuable service to those in need of working cat assistance. The Working Cats Program allows cats that are not socialized to live a happy and healthy life outdoors doing the things they love, such as hunting small critters and rodents Working cats can be placed at businesses, warehouses, community centers, church yards, EMS stations and even your home.  

Since launching the program, about 100 cats have been adopted and placed at different properties around the area. With the sudden influx of cats from this most recent hoarding case, MCAW is working diligently to get the word out, and promote the program.

Anyone interested in adopting a working cat can do so by contacting MCAW at You can also visit the Palmetto Adoption Center during hours of operation. For more information about the program and its criteria, please visit

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