79-Year-Old Ohio Woman Sentenced To 10 Days In Jail For Feeding Stray Cats

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79-Year-Old Ohio Woman Sentenced To 10 Days In Jail For Feeding Stray Cats
Entertainment And News

People feel strongly about cats.

There are the dyed-in-the-wool cat-obsessed, and then there are the people whose lips involuntarily curl up whenever they happen to notice a cat in their immediate proximity.

That's totally fine, either way, really! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone is entitled to adopt the pet of their choice, cat or otherwise. 

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But some animal lovers take their passion a little over the top. A senior citizen named Nancy Segula is a perfect example of exactly that.

When Segula started feeding the stray cats in her neighborhood, she didn't think of anything other than their well-being. But then, with the threat of jail time looming, her neighbors were insisting she pay for her "crimes." 

She's the ultimate cat lady.

Eighty-year-old Nancy Segula of Ohio loves cats. I love cats too; in fact, people have called me a cat lady, but I would never go to jail for cats. However, Segula was facing possible jail time for her passion.

For years, she's been feeding the local stray cats and her neighbors had enough. For three years, there have been complaints about Segula, she has been served with warnings and citations beseeching her to stop feeding the strays or pay a price, and, eventually, she was told that she must report to the county jail to serve 10 days behind bars.

What on Earth could be driving her to do all this and why are her neighbors in such an uproar?

Why did she risk it all for the kitties? 

When asked why she was putting her own freedom on the line for these feral felines, Segula said, simply, "I'm a cat lover. I used to have a neighbor that had a couple cats and he moved away, so he left them. I would always feed them and care for them because I was worried about them and I’m a cat lover. Once my neighbors got upset about it, they called the animal warden."  

Segula wasn't looking to ruffle any feathers when she started feeding the strays, but what once was just a habit she'd gotten into became something much more important to her after she experienced a tragic loss. 

She was also grieving. 

According to Segula, taking care of the local strays wasn't just something she was doing because she's so devoted to animals. In fact, it's been therapeutic for her ever since her beloved husband passed away. 

“I miss my own kitties, they passed away, my husband passed away. I’m lonely. So the cats and kitties outside help me," she said in an interview. For many people, finding a hobby or new activity is a great way to help distract themselves as they go through the grieving process.

While it might not be conscious, that's clearly what Segula is doing here, so why are people so upset about her actions, upset enough to send a near octogenarian to jail? 

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Luckily, Segula had someone in her corner.

Thankfully, while it might have seemed like the entire world had turned against Segula, conspiring to have her sent away for the harmless crime of feeding the local strays, she did have people who are in her corner as the threat of jail continued to loom in the not-so-distant future.

One person who always has Segula's back is her son, Dave Pawlowski. When he heard about the threat hanging over his mother's head, he was outraged. But first, he had a hard time even understanding that what she was saying was true.

“I couldn’t believe what my mother was telling me. She gets 10 days in the county jail, I couldn’t believe it. I’m sure people hear about the things that happen downtown in that jail. And they are going to let my 79-year-old mother go there," he said. 

This wasn't the first time Segula had been caught with her hand in the kibble jar.

This isn't Segula's first rodeo with the cats and the local authorities.

Three years ago, the citizens in her neighborhood of Garfield Heights started insisting that the local authorities take action. They were irate with her for feeding the stray cats who had started to convene outside of her home.

When the neighbors made it clear that they weren't going away, the local Animal Warden spoke with Segula and requested that she clear her home area of the strays. They also made sure to explain to her that there was a city ordinance in place that made it illegal to feed strays.

All of this information was revealed by the local police department in a statement.

She's actually had several citations.

Another thing the police shared? That Segula knew about just how angry her neighbors were and did nothing (which I kind of respect, but still, you need to be neighborly).

In 2015, she got cited for all the stray feeding and then, in 2017, she was cited again. Later that same year, she was convicted of having too many cats around her home and put on probation!

But she didn't stop, and the citations kept coming. The next one? Failure to clean up all the feces that her strays were producing. 

She will not serve jail time.

Segula has managed to skirt the big house again. Instead, the judge has allowed her to perform a probation period where she must stop feeding the strays and also remove any items on her property that were providing shelter for the animals.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in August 2019 and was updated with the latest information.