For longer than anyone can remember, the Winona Area Humane Society has been feeding and sheltering a group of more two dozen feral cats.

That was until about three or four months ago, when they stopped.

There are no more shelters, no more food, but there are plenty of rumors making their way around town. Rumors like the Humane Society is letting the cats starve and freeze through the winter.

However, according to Humane Society board member Rich McCluer, nothing could be further from the truth.

“We put a tremendous effort into the situation,” he said. “I wouldn’t leave an animal out in the cold without food.”

McCluer said what started as an idea with good intentions later became a nuisance to the neighborhood.

After years of feeding the cats, the Humane Society’s efforts began to attract a different kind of tenant, ones far less cuddly than the feline variety.

Skunks, racoons and opossums had started showing up looking for an easy meal and a place to shelter from the cold. At one point, McCluer saw five skunks making their way into the area.

“If we got one more nuisance complaint, we could be shut down,” facilities director Susie Marshall said.

Marshall said the skunks were getting a little too cozy with the situation.

“We’d go in the igloo to check on the them and there would be a skunk curled up in there with a bunch of cats,” she said.

McCluer added it was turning into “a wild kingdom.”

Our first solution was to change the feeding policy, McCluer said. Rather than feed the cats and then leave the food there for hungry critters, they’d take the food away once the cats had had their fill.

Unfortunately, the new feeding policy didn’t go as hoped when a rogue volunteer took it upon themselves to leave food out after dinnertime and would even show up at the Humane Society before dawn to “cart out” food for the animals, McCluer said.

After continued issues, the volunteer was cited for trespassing.

With rodents an ongoing issue, the society changed their strategy.

“We’ve been trapping and transporting the cats,” McCluer said.

The society found a farm — the Lisa Jud Hobby Farm in Dakota — that was willing to take them. So far 22 cats have been trapped, vaccinated and placed at their new home. There are a few that have yet to be caught, but the society is continuing to work on it.

Marshall said she’s thankful the cats are at a new location. The cats that before couldn’t be handled are now getting more attention and are being pet.

“I visit the farm,” Marshall said. “This lady is sitting on the ground petting these cats.”

McCluer said the neighborhood has responded well to the change in policy.

“One of the neighbors came and saw the shelter and was just ecstatic,” she said.

Marshall added that in the end it’s a good result for both parties.

“It’s a happy thing,” she said. “I think everyone meant well; I just think it got out of hand.”

The Humane Society found a farm willing to take them. So far 22 cats have been trapped, vaccinated and placed at their new home.

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reach out to Tesla by calling 507-453-3501 or emailing tesla.mitchell@winonadailynews.com


(19) comments


I hope they neutered those cats. Otherwise the new cat farm is going to start growing exponentially.

Nature Advocate

Here's a good read to show you what happens to every last one of these relocated invasive-species disease-infested vermin feral-cats that people dump-off on farms and in other rural areas in ANY location of North America. (And, as I recently discovered; in Canada, the UK, and probably worldwide -- they'd be fools not to.)


All you are doing is adding to the cat-shooting quotas of everyone who lives rural. What a nice waste of your money and time. I personally shot and buried literally hundreds (700-900) of these invasive-species vermin cats to stop them from gutting-alive and skinning-alive the last of the native wildlife on my lands. Cats adopted by pavement-brained fools (on their 3-10 acre hobby-farms) from "humane" barn-cat programs ran by equally pavement-brained cat-licking morons. Many hunting-forums even pass along contact information of any new "barn cat programs" -- for free delivery of FREE practice-targets between hunting seasons. I don't condone this, because if they miss then I have to shoot them myself when they wander into my own lands. "Hello? Yes, I have a bad rodent problem out here in the country. Can you bring out about 6 of your cats? Thanks!" (A week later: BANG! BANG! Damn, missed one. BANG! BANG! BANG!) Your cats are "valuable", alright. But not in any way that you might ever think.

Cats that are relocated NEVER stay where they have been dumped. This is why you read reports of cats trying to get back to their points of origin hundreds of miles away. All the while senselessly destroying countless numbers of valuable native wildlife in their wake by torturing animals to death for their hourly play-toys. People in rural areas have enough of their own problem keeping these disease-infested vermin in check by shooting every stray cat they see (if only to protect their own animals and cats from the 3dozen+ deadly zoonotic diseases these free-roaming pestilent vermin cats carry and spread to all other animals and humans today).

You needn't go adding to everyone's weekly cat-shooting-quotas by releasing more of these pestilent vermin. "Cute" they are not. They ALL need to be destroyed. There are dozens of native predator species that are MUCH better suited for rodent control. Ones that eat rodents only and don't destroy everything that moves, like cats do. There's a good reason one species was even named the Barn-Owl, another the Rat-Snake. Gray-Fox being another excellent mouser, they don't even have European fowl on their menus and will even climb trees to keep squirrel populations in check. Even the 1.75-inch Masked-Shrew, a David & Goliath success story, evolved a poisonous bite specifically for preying on rodents right where they breed. Even the scent of these miniature marvels being around drives away rodents. But what do their cats do? They destroy these most beneficial of all rodent predators the very first chance they get.

Cat-lickers (criminally irresponsible cat-hoarders) need to become responsible stewards of this planet by getting at least a high-school level of education in matters of ecology and biology so the rest of us don't have to teach you a valuable lesson by shooting and burying every last one of your invasive species vermin cats for you.

And just know, if you DON'T warn everyone what happens to your unwanted vermin barn-cats, it only means that thousands of more people will be throwing their unwanted cats in front of loaded guns. It'll be YOUR fault when that happens. Welcome to the REAL world!


What’s your name? I’d like to report you to the police. You have written yourself a pretty good testimony.

Nature Advocate

My name will do you no good. It was the sheriff himself who told me that shooting every last stray cat is the ONLY solution that actually works. It even teaches irresponsible cat-lickers to finally keep any new vermin cats of theirs contained to their own lands, as required by LAW.

You might want to educate yourselves about the laws. Depredation control, nuisance animal control, zoonotic disease containment, and invasive species and environmental protection laws supersede all other animal protection laws in every nation on earth. Considering that about 80% of all stray cats carry and spread deadly brain-hijacking Toxoplasma gondii parasites to all other animals and humans (60% of the deer population is now even infected by your vermin stray cats), that alone is enough to give anyone legal license to destroy every last stray cat you see under zoonotic-disease-containment laws. Do you know what "supersede" means? It means that your "companion animal protection" laws are null and void in every last one of those scenarios. So stop lying about killing your vermin cats being illegal, nobody's buying that cat-lickers' ignorant BS anymore that you relentlessly (and wrongly) spew all over the internet. The onus lies on you to protect your cat from all harms -- as defined in all animal-endangerment, animal-abandonment, and animal-neglect laws -- unless you want to be fined and convicted and jailed for being in direct violation of all those laws in every county of ever state. Go ahead, take your dead cat to the police and after you tell them how your own criminal negligence caused its death watch them throw you in jail for violating those animal protection laws. Your responsibility to keep your own animals safe from all harms includes keeping them from being legally shot to death. Stop throwing your vermin cats in front of loaded guns and then crying about your blatant acts of self-victimization just to manipulate everyone around you for attention, it's that simple.


It’s scary that there are people like you out there near both animals and children.

Nature Advocate

Hint: letting your vermin cats roam free only proves to the rest of the world that your community-vermin cat is 100%-expendable to you. You don't give one **** how it dies, so why then should anyone else? You only use them as convenient animal-sacrifices for your manipulative self-victimization song & dance act to manipulate everyone around you for attention -- and that is the ONLY thing your 100%-expendable vermin cats mean to you. Otherwise you wouldn't let them roam free in the very first place. You'd show you actually care if your vermin cat lives or dies -- not after the fact. Throw more of your vermin under the wheels of cars, then cry about it for attention again. Go ahead, ask me if I care -- about you killing your own cats from your own criminal animal-neglect OR if I care what happens to your 100%-expendable community-vermin cat (that you also intentionally use to gut-alive and disembowel-alive all our valuable native wildlife). Guess what my answer will be in both cases. It'll sound a lot like, "Not ONE little bit!"


Wait, the sheriff himself told you “you can shoot stray cats on sight?” You don’t seem to make any sense with your graphic babbling, I honestly hope someone from this newspaper is paying attention to your statements as they are concerning to say the least. I’m nervous for anyone who owns pets or children that live near you.

Nature Advocate

Speaking of children: People who let cats roam free should also be investigated by Family-Services & Social-Services if they have any children. If people see their cats as family members, and then let them roam free to be hit by cars, lap up antifreeze in gutters, or get killed by animal attacks; this does not bode well for them being responsible for ANY other lives in their care. They are already in direct violation of all animal-neglect, animal-abandonment, and animal-endangerment laws on all the books in every county of every state. As well as being in direct violation of all national and international invasive-species laws by not keeping their invasive-species cat contained at all times.

Are these criminally-negligent cretins who treat their "family" like this going to tell their toddlers to go play in the freeway and then blame the cars for their children's deaths too? Not long ago a toddler died in a waterway after the parents let it wander off on its own, the parents blamed the water.

No doubt their very own children are just as expendable as their "family" cats.

Someone who lets cats roam free are showing signs of being incapable of responsibly taking care of ANY other lives -- even a pet goldfish. They need to be investigated for all facets of their lives. Children need to be removed from the homes of any and all such criminally-negligent and criminally-irresponsible caretakers for the children's own safety.

On top of that, they don't even care about the safety and well being of anyone else in the world. Do you know how many fatalities and lifelong debilitating injuries have been caused by vehicular accidents from people trying to avoid hitting a free-roaming cat? There needs to be a new bumper-sticker: "SAVE A LOVING FAMILY OF 4 -- FLATTEN A CAT"

Free-roaming-cat-advocate = 100% certifiable sociopath/psychopath.


I’m hoping you don’t have any neighbors with children seeing as though you are bragging about shooting a gun in your yard killing innocent animals 700-900 times. How are you assuming that everyone that has a cat and children let their cats roam free? You need some help buddy. Your rants are all over the board and most people looking at this article have stopped reading your comments because they make no sense. You say you are a nature advocate but you sound more like a serial killer.

Nature Advocate

Ah, I get it now. You're just another lonely cat-licking troll. Your kind are all over the internet. You kill cats by advocating they are allowed to roam free, and then when someone brings this to your attention you claim the person isn't making any sense. You don't even read the posts that you are replying to. Note the all important "if" word in my comment of "... People who let cats roam free should also be investigated by Family-Services & Social-Services IF they have any children. ..." Your reply made absolutely no sense in light of my bringing to your attention this blatant disregard for what you read.

I guess licking your cat will just never be enough attention for you, will it. For socially-crippled online cat-licking trolls it never is. How about this. Let your vermin cat roam free to be ran-over by a car and then post all over the internet how much suffering you are now enduring. Watch everyone laugh at you for that, because we're all onto self-victimization attention seeking behaviors with your 100%-expendable sacrificial cats. Killing your own cats don't cut it anymore. Try something else for attention. Go lick another cat, see if that'll fill your bottomless and lonely void in life.

Not unsurprisingly people can get rid of cats AND online trolls in both the very same way -- starve them to death. Consider this your last snack, you poor lonelyTROLL.


Wait, the sheriff himself told you “you can shoot stray cats on sight?” You don’t seem to make any sense with your graphic babbling, I honestly hope someone from this newspaper is paying attention to your statements as they are concerning to say the least. I’m nervous for anyone who owns pets or children that live near you.

Nature Advocate

Children have more to worry about from your free-roaming cats' debilitating and brain-hijacking Toxoplasma gondii parasite than from those that save children's lives and their eyesight from being destroyed by your vermin cats -- by shooting your disease-riddled vermin cats. Really, educate yourself on how many unborn children and growing children that you blind or KILL every year with your disease-infested vermin cats. Your kind are pure sociopaths and psychopaths. You care more about the lives of your sacrificial vermin cats than you do the lives, health, and well-being of human children. If you cared more about children and adult humans than vermin cats you'd kill and hygienically dispose of every last one of your disease-infested cats.

These are just the diseases these invasive species vermin cats have been spreading to humans, not counting the ones they spread to wildlife. THERE ARE NO VACCINES against many of these, and are in-fact listed as bio-terrorism agents. They include: Afipia felis, Anthrax, Bartonella (Rochalimaea) henselae (Cat-Scratch Disease), Bergeyella (Weeksella) zoohelcum, Campylobacter Infection, Chlamydia psittaci (feline strain), Cowpox, Coxiella burnetti Infection (Q fever), Cryptosporidium Infection, Cutaneous larva migrans, Dermatophytosis, Dipylidium Infection (tapeworm), Hookworm Infection, Leptospira Infection, Giardia, Neisseria canis, Pasteurella multocida, Plague, Poxvirus, Rabies, Rickettsia felis, Ringworm, Salmonella Infection (including the most dangerous new super-strain found only in cats), Scabies, Sporothrix schenckii, Toxocara Infection, Toxoplasmosis, Trichinosis, Visceral larva migrans, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. [Centers for Disease Control, July 2010]

The following can now also be added to CDC's list: Bird-flu (H1N1, H5N1, H7N2) , Bovine Tuberculosis, Sarcosporidiosis, Flea-borne Typhus, Tularemia, Rat-Bite Fever, SARS, an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staph aureus (MRSA -- Meticillin-Resistant Staph aureus) "The flesh-eating disease", Leishmania infantum, West Nile Virus, and now even deadly Chaga's disease.

It is also interesting to note that rats can only contract and transmit about half of that many diseases to humans. It is actually healthier for a community to be overran with an infestation of rats than an infestation of your community-vermin cats.


You seem like a very sad individual who seems paranoid over “cat licking trolls” whatever those are. You seem unstable, if not, dangerous for any community. I hope you stay in the hole where you are typing this none sense from. I have found your name and address and will be reporting your behavior to authorities.

Nature Advocate

ROLFMAO!!! Too, too, effin' funny!! LOL!!!

Whole teams of IT departments have tried to get my real name for 10 years. They still don't even know on which hemisphere of the globe that I reside. And you just did it all by your brain-dead little self in one day, someone who can't even spell properly. LOL!! (btw: proxy-trains are a wonderful thing)

Well, like I've always said (an excerpt from "The TNR Con-Game", Google it), "FACT: During all this investigation I have discovered something that is unfaltering without fail. Something that you can bet your very life on and win every last time. That being — IF A TNR CAT-HOARDER IS TALKING THEN THEY ARE LYING. 100% guaranteed!"

Thanks, for proving that, AGAIN!! ROFLMAO!! (and thanks too for the good belly-laugh at you cat-licking buffoons, LOL)

Nature Advocate

In case anyone is curious — the term that I use of “cat licker” is justifiably and accurately gleaned from the growing fad of people who are obsessed with cats and want to do everything possible to make themselves feel good at the expense of all that is reasonable and sane. They are now licking their cats clean. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9xmiOxsTWg

They even recently invented and now advertise a new “fake tongue” cat-grooming device that they can hold in their mouths and use it for licking their cats to help them psychotically pretend (while debasing themselves) that they too are a vermin cat. I s*** you not! https://www.facebook.com/techinsider/videos/513110285553999/

People who love cats do not throw them under the wheels of moving cars, let them lap-up antifreeze, being eaten from the inside-out by parasites, or force them to attack one another to fight for territory in TNR colonies.

“Cat Lover” is an extremely oxymoronic label. “Cat Licker” is the only one that accurately works today.


Why isn't SPAYING REQUIRED to own cats in the city??? Everyone having kitty litters in their homes without an EXPENSIVE permit should be stopped. We are being overrun with feral cats and then the bleeding hearts want it all paid for by someone - I recently visited a non-working farm that had been overrun with cats who were seriously ill. The stench was unbearable and I cut my visit VERY SHORT - I could hardly breath. Stop this insanity!!! Friends of mine are constantly having kittens dropped off at their doors - usually during nasty weather. What have we become?

still a Winonan

Just wondering if the feral cats were spayed and neutered? No mention of that anywhere in the story.


I can still remember back in the 1950's hearing stories about guys shooting cats and other animals at the "dump" way down in the East end. Don't know if it is true. I do know that there are a lot of cats still running around way down in the East end.


I am just hoping that they are continuing to trap and shelter the streys. There have been more sitings of these poor cats than ever in the past few months on the east end and it’s only going to get colder. When I visited the humane society a few weeks ago, a volunteer told me that they “trapped” some but didn’t mention that they are continuing to do so. She also said she thinks a lot of the cats sleep in the cars behind the humane society building and when I asked how they were getting fed, she said she “thinks” people from the neighborhood are feeding them.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.