Jessica Kelly, co-leader of Cat Trap Fever

by | Jan 17, 2024

Jessica Kelly—who, along with Sue Rountree, runs Cat Trap Fever, a nonprofit focused on improving the lives of feral cats, chiefly in Pinellas County—recounts the “hodgepodge” of jobs she held before devoting herself to long days of TNVR:  Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return. Kelly’s jobs included teenage waitress, traveling with the carnival, and ballet instructor. But she realized her true calling was making a difference to the colossal community cat problem, an aspiration initially spurred in her at age 9 or 10, by a neighborhood woman who kept feral cats in her backyard, always emphasizing the importance of fixing the felines. In 2020, she was fostering for a rescue, when she teamed with Rountree, a like-minded soul, and already an inveterate cat trapper with a hard-core work ethic that Kelly soon echoed. At this point, Kelly explains, there are 3-4 close friends who help with some cat trapping, but essentially, she and Rountree constitute Cat Trap Fever. They complement each other in various ways: For example,  Rountree, who holds a day job, tends to dispatch her CTF duties in the early morning, while Kelly, a wife and mother who says she typically puts in 50-60 hours on CTF’s behalf, usually in the afternoons and evenings. She outlines how a typical day might work, heading to a particular cat colony, trapping the non-fixed cats (fixed ones have their ears tipped), describing the traps themselves, explaining the next key step involves bringing the cats to veterinarians they work with to be spayed or neutered—noting CTF doesn’t have its own facility to hold cats pre- and post-surgery, improvising instead with garage spaces, guest bedrooms, and the like, and collaborating with local rescues for fostering and adoption opportunities. We touched on the recent New Yorker piece, How The “No Kill” Movement Betrays Its Name,” by novelist Jonathan Franzen. A 501 (c) (3), Cat Trap Fever accepts donations, and needs them, really—because they’re still self-funding many of their activities. (,


ALSO: I spoke briefly with Annalisa Berns, a search dog handler and licensed private investigator, who oversees Pet Search and Rescue Conferences across the country, including one slated to take place in Tampa this weekend. Berns recounted her entry into this distinctive line of work, having enrolled in a symposium under the tutelage of Kat Albrecht, a former police bloodhound handler and eventual wearer of many hats–including pet detective–and a major figure in this field. That symposium was not unlike the programs she now offers, and at which she serves as lead instructor. To train your dog to become a search dog, or otherwise work with a search dog—to look for missing pets–you’re required to be a licensed private investigator, Berns explained. (,,


 COMEDY CORNER: Kyle Kinane’s “Cat Sneeze” [DS edit] (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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