Hudgins said she had been caring for a colony of 16 feral cats that had been dropped off near her home on Canoe Yard Trail, but their numbers are now down to just three.
A group of Mathews volunteers organized by Roberts had been working with Hudgins to trap the cats, have them neutered, and return them into the natural environment as part of a county-wide effort to humanely control the feral cat population.
Hudgins fed the cats with the help of a fund established for that purpose by Mathews residents at the Animal Resource Foundation, and she had become fond of the animals, which were generally tame.
"For being feral, it was amazing how they could be tamed," she said tearfully. "Each had its own personality. Every kitty had a name. I loved every one of them."
A hunter’s dogs killed one of the cats, said Hudgins, but then cats began silently disappearing at night, one by one—first Felix, then Oreo, then the others—and Hudgins said she sat up late one night to see what was causing it. She said she heard a sound and when she looked out, she saw a coyote standing in her yard not far from her house. She said she thinks the coyote was chasing one of her cats and that one of the animals ran into the porch railing.