A 76-year-old Twin Cities woman is in hot water for feeding stray cats in Minneapolis after residents complained that her well-intentioned efforts are only attracting more cats.
Joy Mattice lives miles away in Plymouth, but she visits north Minneapolis several times a week to take care of the cats so that they don't starve.
"A lot of money has been spent on these animals over the years," Mattice told FOX 9 News.
She says she feels like she's making a difference, but many neighbors say that -- aside from leaving behind trash -- she is only making the problem worse.
"I do it because I feel sorry for the animals that are out there," Mattice explained. "I guess I've just been an animal activist all my life."
Not everyone sees it that way, however, and now the city is stepping in to try to make her stop by charging her with a misdemeanor.
"In this particular case, we've received numerous complaints in the north side area about people ground feeding cats, which is creating a negative situation in those neighborhoods," said Dan Niziolek, of Minneapolis Animal Care & Control.
Ground feeding also violates a city ordinance against leaving out food that can attract rodents, but Antonio Muhammad said it seems to be doing a better job of attracting even more stray cats.
"I don't really see them intentionally trying to do wrong … but the end result is making the problem worse," he said.
So far, Mattice is facing only the one misdemeanor charge, but the city attorney said the investigation is still ongoing and more charges could still be coming. Even so, Mattice says she shouldn't be the one facing charges.
"The people that should be in criminal court … should be the people who are driving off from five and six foreclosed homes on every block and leaving their dogs and cats to fend for themselves," she said.
Currently, there are no leash laws for cats in Minneapolis and there is no requirement for them to be spayed or neutered, but Mattice told FOX 9 News she often traps the cats and has them fixed at her own expense because she wants to help. Muhammad argues that's what Animal Control is for, and citizens of other metro cities shouldn't take it upon themselves and interfere.
"If you're really trying to do something noble, let Animal Control do their job," he suggested. "That's what they're here for. It's not really upon the citizens to do such a thing because they're going about it the wrong way."
Many of the people who have complained about the cat feeding say that, even at 76 years old, Mattice can become confrontational if people ask her to stop feeding the felines, and she told FOX 9 News she feels thanks -- not complaints -- are in order.
Mattice will make her first court appearance on Friday.