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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We told you yesterday about a woman whose cat was returned to her with half its ear missing and an incision in its stomach. Today, we talked to the group responsible about why it caught a tame cat and why it could not identify the gender.

JoE. Needham is president of Friends of Felines. She admits she’s the one who trapped Meribeth Pearsall’s cat Roy.

“We did not mutilate or endanger that cat in any way, shape or form,” Needham said. “We would not do that. That is not what we do. We would never, ever intend or will harm an animal. Period. We just don’t do that.”

Needham said the group, which tries to control Wilmington’s feral cat population, only takes wild cats to be fixed.

Although Pearsall claims her cat is tame, Needham says Roy was completely wild. Needham understands house cats sometimes act wild when trapped, so she tried multiple times to locate an owner. Roy also runs around outside without a collar, which is against the law in New Hanover County.

Needham assumed Roy was a feral cat and took him to be fixed. Although Roy was neutered as a kitten, one of the volunteer vets could not tell.

“The back end area, sometimes that area is very difficult to tell whether or not if it is a boy or a girl,” Needham said.

Needham is not a veterinarian. She said only licensed vets perform surgery on the cats they catch.

The vets do a visual inspection first. If they don’t find any evidence that the cat is a male, they shave the stomach to search for a spay scar. If they still cannot determine the sex, the vets make an incision, which is what happened to Roy. Needham said she’s only seen it happen one other time in more than a decade.

“It is unfortunate,” she said. “It is a mistake, but the cat was taken very, very good care of. We take care of the cats just as if they were your own personal cat.”

Needham says she is sorry for catching Roy in the first place and then trying to fix him again, but she said these mistakes will only make Friends of Felines better.

Needham urges all pet owners to put collars on their animals, keep them contained and spay and neuter them.

She said Friends of Felines is happy to get roy a free check-up as his owner has asked.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest461


  • Guestu

    If you are having problems with animals running loose in your neighborhood, NHC ACS has traps you can use.

    From NHC ACS website:

    Is it okay to trap cats/dogs?
    ACS provides cat and dog traps to NHC citizens for a deposit fee, which is refunded through County Finance when the trap is returned to the shelter (general timeframe is 30 days). It is a violation of the county ordinance to remove your pet from a trap. Only humane traps are utilized by NHC.

  • guesty

    You are the one that couldn’t figure out the Needham mentioned in the article wasn’t a vet, wasn’t connected to the animal hospital. Please try point out where I said I know everything, but I think that is just your inadequate intellect speaking. There isn’t a debate here since you are just plain wrong.

    From your first post:

      “Needham, as in Needham Animal Hospital??? What sort of connection or relationship exists here?? I certainly don’t believe the animal hospital is involved in this…..at least I hope not.”

    I’m clear about my posting of no connection, you are the one with the confusion and misunderstandings. You assume due to same name a connection. Kind of like not every Friedman or Reeds in town is connected to jewelry stores and not every Jackson can get you some good BBQ.

  • Guest9876

    You just don’t get it, and it’s not worth debating you over, you apparently think you know everything. Never once said the Animal Hospital was involved in any way, period. Keep you’re misunderstandings to yourself. Find someone else to debate with.

  • guesty

    If you know that Dr. Batts and his wife own Needham Animal Hospital, why would you ask if the Needham mentioned in the story is connected to them?

  • Gues9876

    Thanks for the obvious input…you’re correct that story does say Needham is not a veterinarian…I know this, as you said it was in the story, I never said she was. It’s pretty obvious she’s not a vet, she heads up the organization. Read my comment again…I simply asked what connection does exist….in name only, not with the establishment! I never implied they had anything to do with Needham beyond the name. Just saw last name Needham….kinda weird, huh, don’tcha think? I know who the vets are there and who owns the place, and like and respect them all, love the place, highly recommend them, and have been going there for years with my animals and will continue to do so, but the name just struck me as quite coincidental. I also said I’m certain they don’t have anything to do with this because they know what they are doing there….these other so-called licensed vets don’t. I just simply asked what the name connnection was….simple observation. Oviously a Needham owned the animal hospital at one time. I applaud FoF for their intentions and think they have good intentions in what they are trying to do, but their baiting and other methods are seriously flawed and the folks they are using for the procedures need obviously need some more schooling. I’m not a vet, so I definitely wouldn’t claim to know, but definitely expect more from someone with the degree and experience.

  • Office Fan

    Firstly, maintaining a feral colony helps to prevent new cats from wandering in and taking over. A properly maintained colony with population control will establish territoriality and other strays will, by nature, not move in. Since this established colony is properly vaccinated by FoF and all animals are fixed this colony can help prevent the spread of rabid animals into an area. Remember also that all of these colonies that FoF maintains are supplied with food on a regular basis to prevent the cats from wandering. Without this managed colony feral strays would move through killing songbirds, attacking domestic pets and tearing open trash looking for food, all the while bringing diseases with them that the FoF cats are vaccinated against.

    As for the ear clipping, it is a sign to animal control that the animal in question is spay/neutered and vaccinated and is part of a managed feral colony. If I remember correctly, Animal Control has a policy that it will not pick up feral cats that have a clipped ear because they are fixed and vaccinated.

  • guesty

    From the story: “Needham is not a veterinarian. She said only licensed vets perform surgery on the cats they catch.”

    No, no connection to Needham Animal Hospital. That facility is owned and operated by Dr. Chris Batts.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    …as soon as we start applying it to feral PEOPLE, who are a far greater drain on society.

    To the best of my knowledge, FoF is entirely funded by private donations and volunteers. They usually do very good work.

    Killing something is not humane.

  • Cat Controller

    When I graduated college, I purchased my first vehicle. Shortly afterwards, I walked out one day to see a neighbor’s cat run down the windshield and ski down my hood. To this day, I still parade around the scratches from that cat in the hood of my bright red paint. Several days later, I experienced the same again on my way out to work, but it was for the last time. Too make a long story short, keep your cat and dog on your property. If not, in the country, we eliminate the problem.
    Some of you pet owners think more of a freaking animal than you do human life itself. And by the way, I own five pets and one sleeps on the top half of my pillow at night, but I maintain mine like they are my children as well.

  • Doug

    Why are we not addressing that issue.

    It sounds to me like the organization has owned up to their error, but it’s funny that Meribeth and all the other outside cat folks are still dancing around the fact that they are breaking animal control law by allowing their cats to go out an explore their neighborhood.

    Could some one just admit that they don’t care to follow the law.

    Why didn’t WWAY ask Meribeth why she chooses to break animal control laws?
    Scott-I’m a WWAY fan, so don’t give me that generic “thanks for visiting” response.

  • Guest2546789

    Why spend the money fixing these feral cats? This sounds harsh, but why not put them down? These feral cats must hunt for food, if one gets sick then that one cat will spread the disease to the others, which in turn can go onto anyone’s property and endanger the domestic cats. It seems more humane to put them down. What is the reason for cutting the ear? Also, the money spent fixing these animals may be better spent keeping animal shelters open and helping animals that have a chance at adoption.

  • Guest111

    F of F There are always those who argue every point and put the blame elsewhere other than taking responsibility for their own shortcomings. I for one, thank you for what you do. Ignore all these comments. If everyone was a responsible pet owner there wouldn’t be a need for your organization but since they aren’t, there’s your group. Keep up the good work.

  • GuestLee

    I wish I could call them to pick up the small white dog that p*ssed all over my newly planted dogwood tree last night. This canine has the roam of the neighborhood and he’s never on a leash. He pees all over people’s yards and flowers, and he barks constantly if you are anywhere near, like it’s HIS property. He’s a nuisance, but I really blame the owner for letting him run loose. There IS a leash law in New Hanover County!

  • Guest9876

    Wait a minute, hold up….Needham, as in Needham Animal Hospital??? What sort of connection or relationship exists here?? I certainly don’t believe the animal hospital is involved in this…..at least I hope not. Can’t identify the sex of a cat??? Who are these vets? Interns? What clinic is doing this? Give me a break….it’s one thing to pick up a cat that they think is roaming….but cutting into it because they can’t determine the sex is absolutely ridicules. My cat doesn’t go out and neither does my dog with out a leash etc, but if someone touched any of my animals like this, there would be seriouse repercussions. Everyone can sit around and point fingers about the cat being out and not having a collar, blah, blah, but put yourself and your animal in this postion. Dang right they owe her extensive check ups on that cat….and at a reputable vet, not some clinic!

  • trurthseeker

    My cat does not wear a collar either but is sometimes let out and he hangs around the porch and goes no where. Do I have to worry that one of these”Do gooders” is going to snatch my cat, operate on it and cut part of the ear off. Yea this sounds like to me you have a bunch of zealots who think with emotions, not brains and if you snatch my cat I guarantee you, you will regret it. Keep your paws off cats you definitely cannot say are feral.

  • Sadie Godfrey

    If the vet had taken a quick look he/she would have known it was a male cat. Even with some of its “parts” missing there is still a noticcable difference in a male and a female cat.

  • Guest-of-the-day

    your cat’s taking his/her life in his hands by just being out of the house! And there’s NO LAW that says cats have to wear collars! If my cat isn’t registered, there are no more restrictions on my cat than there are on squirrels or raccoons! Learn the law yourself and stop spreading misinformation!

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    …this was a colossal blunder. If a volunteer cannot determine a neutered male from an unspayed female, that volunteer should not be allowed to handle cats.

    This was totally inexcusable and there can be absolutely no excuse.

  • Guesthere

    Common…..From reading your comments on other stories here you seem like a “by the book” kinda guy. You seem to call out people for excuses and falsely placing blame. I would have figured you would be one of the firsts with a “you’re breaking animal control laws, so you get what you deserve” replies.

    Do you have a soft spot for cute wittle kitty cats? (and their law breaking owners)

  • Guest311

    What’s the big deal? They’re taking care of him, also giving Wilmington a great service by spaying and neutering feral cats. There are far too many kittens abandoned and sick cats around because of poor owners. If this owner did not put a collar on her cat, her fault. Props to Friends of Felines. :-)

  • eao

    I own two cats; they both stay indoors. I try my best to keep a collar on my girl, but she pops it off everytime I turn around. My boy cat, I am not sure I could even get him to wear a collar. My girl is micro chipped and I would like to have my boy chipped too. On the off chance my cats got out and were picked up, do they check for the microchip? It is VERY EASY for a collar to be lost. I hate to think my cats could be operated on or WORSE put down by unbenongst to me.

  • DJ

    I don’t care what the vet used as an excuse obviously this “vet” is incompetent and has no business practicing female cats have 2 openings period males do not!! This is abhorent and let’s be realistic most cats won’t wear a collar period it just doesn’t work. Then again new Hanover is also the only jurisdiction I know of that taxes your cat like the do most dogs. Glad I moved from Wilmington to Brunswick county end of last year between the CFPUA fiascos and stupid things like the taxes and this it’s no wonder ppl are leaving the immediate area. I dont have to pay for trash and my water bill is less then 40 a month in a similar sized house.

  • Guest111

    If the cat’s owner had followed the laws of having animals for pets, the kitty would never have been out, loose in the area. Even tho it might be gentle and loving at home when it gets approached by a stranger it is in it’s nature to fight off unwanted advances, which in turn makes it look ‘wild’. If you are going to have pets, take care of them, ID them, keep them safe and love them. I’m sure this organization didn’t do any permanent harm to this cat. They are a caring group who give of their free time, willingly, to help many, many cats who desperately need help. Don’t be angry with them. . just focus on keeping your cat safe with ID around it’s neck. These cats and dogs can’t tell you their address or phone number.

  • Office Fan

    I have worked with them before and owe them a huge debt of gratitude for all of the help they lent me several years ago when a large local company was exterminating the feral cat colony that resided on its property. Without their help, all of the cats in that colony would have been killed, but they helped with with trapping and we managed to save 8 of them and relocate them.

    Friends of Felines has a very hard job, and since nobody is perfect accidents do happen. First and foremost, people need to spay and neuter their pets. I personally know people making almost 6 figures per year who are too lazy to have their pet fixed and only agreed to it when I agreed to pay half the bill…and I barely make $15,000 per year. If everyone did their part, the stray population would soon come under control and groups like FoF would not be needed as frequently.

    Thank you Friends of Felines for your hard work!!

  • marie woodward

    I appreciate those that try and keep the ferral cat population in check. I get very angry when people do not get their pets, cats, dogs, etc, etc, spayed or neutered. The story of the poor Roy makes me sad and very angry. I feel no one has the right to come into a neighbor hood unless someone has complained about a problem with ferral cats and then should let the neighbors know they will be coming in on certain days. My reason for this is I have always had cats for pets and most of them have been rescued pets. The last time I placed a collar around one of my pet cats I found him hanging from a tree by his collar which had caught on a limb. I could never do this again. So please keep this in mind when you go around corraling cats to be fixed “again”.

    Marie Woodward

  • Office Fan

    How do you think FoF finds these areas with feral cats? Neighbor complaints and requests for action. What would you prefer, FoF coming in and helping with a problem or backing off and the end result being hundred or thousands of kittens flooding animal shelters later this year….the majority of which will be euthanized?

    And just a little anatomy for some of the people who are crucifying this wonderful organization thinking they are all-knowing about cat anatomy. If a male kitten is neutered very young the sex organs do not develop, hence no visible S*. A male cats P* retracts inside the body which gives the appearance of 2 openings if the S* never developed properly (using letters so WWAY does not reject my post). This can give a male cat a very female appearance. This entire incident was a big mistake, the organization took responsibility and is making amends.

    Can people please chill out, believe me you are doing far more harm trashing this organization than good. How do you think this will affect donations and people asking for help in the future? The end result will be an explosion in cat populations and thousands more unwanted cats getting put to sleep. Please consider this before you continue to vent on this organization that does so much good in our county.


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