Dear Neighbor,

It has been a hard month between Zika & Hurricane Matthew, but this email tackles a "softer" challenge: free-roaming (homeless) "community cats." 

I  assessed the City's management & funding program, and met some loving, hard working individuals who dedicate themselves to humane influence over this Quality of Life issue.

Miami Beach is a fascinating city, with fascinating history.  Did you know that cats were first brought to Miami Beach in 1912 by John Newton Lummus, one of the earliest developers of Miami Beach? Mayor at the time, he bought bags of cats and set them free to control the island rat population.  The strategy worked fine at first, but resulted in an unchecked free-roaming cat population! 

By 1995, the solution was trapping and euthanasia, with a $35 bounty for each community cat trapped and euthanized.  Today, the city of Miami Beach has a humane and holistic approach to managing community cats.   Since 2010, more than 6000 Miami Beach cats have been sterilized and re-released through the project CatSnip program!   

Read this newsletter to learn more about our effort to reduce the population of homeless cats in the City of Miami Beach, and who you can call for help if needed.  Above all, please remember that "setting pets free" is really "making pets homeless."   Turn in unwanted pets to a shelter that can help them get adopted.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please email or call my office,


Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán
Project CatSnip
Homelessness is not just a people problem.

According to PetSmart charities, 41% of cats in U.S. shelters are euthanized; that's 1.4 million cats every year .  In Miami-Dade County, that number is even higher.  As these statistics are well published, pet owners that can no longer care for their cats may be prone to set them free. Unfortunately, this perpetuates the feral cat problem in Miami Beach. Two unsterilized cats and their offspring can produce  more than 11 million cats in only 9 years!

Miami Beach's strategy is one of attrition.

In 2012, the City of Miami Beach entered into an agreement with The Cat Network, Inc. to implement Project CatSnip Miami Beach.  The project was funded through a grant from PetSmart Charities, Inc. to the City of Miami Beach, with the network veterinarians performing the surgeries and volunteers providing support services. 

The sterilization program is free for any Miami Beach resident bringing in a community cat. Project CatSnip uses a trap-neuter-return approach (TNR) that returns sterilized cats back to their home colonies to happily live out the rest of their days. This process helps to control the population of stray cats and humanely reduce the population over time through attrition.

The trapping of the stray cats around our city is coordinated by SOBE Cats Spay & Neuter, Inc. and performed by volunteers using humane traps. The Meow Mobile, a surgery center on wheels, visits Miami Beach twice a month, and is able to spay / neuter 25 to 40 cats per day.  

With no space to house cats, Miami-Dade County Animal Services is unable to pick them up.  The problem is ongoing as pets sadly continue to be abandoned by their owners. 
Thanks to Lynn Bernstein for her years of dedicated service to Miami Beach Community Cats and for showing us around!
     North Beach community cat " Maggie" being cute for the camera!
Volunteer trappers with the cats trapped the night before surgery. Keeping the cats covered is essential to keeping them calm.
    A feline friend receiving her first vaccine!
Learn more about the City's program by viewing these videos:

Appointments for spaying and neutering can be scheduled directly through SOBE Cats Spay & Neuter at

The City's contact is Mr. Ricky Falls in Miami Beach Public Works at 305-673-7000  x6949

What is Ear Tipping?
All cats that are sterilized and ear-tipped (ear-tipping is the removal of the top quarter inch of the tip of the left ear while under anesthesia and is the international symbol of a sterilized stray cat) are also dewormed, vaccinated against rabies, and receive a topical flea treatment.  

An ear-tipped cat is our neighborhood rat catcher!

If you notice community cats that are NOT ear-tipped, tip us off! 
Call and report their location to Mary Thinglestad at 410–303–2042 and

To learn more or to volunteer, please contact .

Feeding Rules according to City Code!
  1. Food cannot be placed directly on the ground, including on leaves or plants. This is littering and is subject to a violation and fines (City Code section 26-92). 
  2. Plates, cans or other containers to feed stray cats must be picked up and removed immediately after the cats are finished eating. Leaving any of these items behind is littering and is subject to a violation and fine (City Code Section 46-92).
  3. Dunes are protected by state and city law. Entering the dunes and placing any food or container in the dunes is subject to numerous fines and violations (F.S. 161.053, F.S. 810.09, City Code Section 46-92).
Our Community Feeders

Feeders are sometimes the target of criticism from angry neighbors, but actually play a very important role in reducing homeless cat populations!

Did you know?

  • Cats congregate around feeding locations making it easier to trap, treat and monitor their populations.
  • Feeders are the first to identify pregnant cats and locate new litters of kittens while they are still adoptable.
  • Feeders are "first responders" for cats that are ill, protecting pets and even people from the spread of contagious disease.
  • Feeders provide key demographic data to help theCity prioritize its management efforts.

Disorganized, public feeding is discouraged. 

  • Public disorganized feeding encourages people to dump cats in the park ("it's OK for me to leave a cat here because it will be well fed.")
  • Public feeding in highly visible areas transforms free roaming cats into a public nuisance
  • Food trays and containers left by those who feed cats are unsightly and constitute litter

The solution is not in depriving the animals of food, but rather in relocating food away from highly visible, heavy traffic areas.  

Community cats a nuisance on your property?  You can purchase cat repellant devices to drive them away.

These little guys were rescued by my Commission Aide, Cilia-Maria, this month and have all been adopted!  SOBECats, while not an organization dedicated to sheltering cats, graciously took them in, nursed them back to health and found them good homes!  

Can't adopt but want to help? Your donation of $30 will be used to vaccinate and neuter one cat.
How YOU can help!
  1. Get your own pets fixed.

  2. Food, money and supply donations are crucial to the success of the program. 
    To help, please visit or e-mail

  3. Help the Miami Beach Senior High School's LEO Club initiative by donating a bag of cat food directly to the school.

  4. If you are feeding our community cats on Miami Beach and are interested in volunteering, please contact Mary Thinglestad at 410–303–2042 and

  5. Adoption volunteers.  If you would like to adopt a cat, or know of someone that would, please contact the SOBE Cats Spay & Neuter, Inc adoption team:

    Suely Caramelo – 305-322-1526
    Ann Meng – 305-865-0516
A big thank you to the Cat Network and
SOBE Cats Spay & Neuter, Inc. for their time and dedication to this project!

Moving Miami Beach Forward Together!

Whether you are a Miami Beach resident or a business owner in our community, my office is here to help!  Our door is always open, so feel free to stop by or e-mail me at

Follow me on  Facebook  and  Twitter  to stay up-to-date on important initiatives throughout our community.
John E. Alemán | City of Miami Beach Commissioner | 786-459-7111 |