Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Get Smart about Feral Cats

On National Feral Cat Day—and All Year Round

By Becky Robinson, President, Alley Cat Allies

This October 16, 2009 marks the ninth annual National Feral Cat Day—an opportunity for people everywhere to help protect and improve the lives of cats.

Americans care about cats—in fact, over 40% have fed a stray cat. National Feral Cat Day is the perfect occasion to jumpstart American’s admiration of cats by helping communities across the country learn more about feral cats and Trap-Neuter-Return. Many celebrate National Feral Cat Day by educating others and hosting special events, including workshops, fundraisers, and neuter clinic days.

Get started by understanding some basic facts about feral cats:

Feral cats aren’t snugglers. Though feral cats are members of the domestic cat species just like pet cats, they are fearful of humans. Since feral cats are not socialized to humans, they cannot be adopted. They live healthy, happy lives in their outdoor homes.

Traditional approaches for feral cats—such as catch and kill or attempts to relocate—do not work. They are costly, inhumane, and endless. Removing cats from an area creates a vacuum, which more cats move into and breed to fill. Decades of these failed practices prove their futility.

Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of cats. Cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be evaluated, neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped. Cats friendly to humans and kittens are adopted into homes, while healthy adult feral cats are returned to their outdoor home. No more kittens. The population stabilizes and their lives are improved. The behaviors associated with mating, like yowling and fighting, stop. Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane approach for feral cats.

Your community wants compassionate solutions. An overwhelming majority of Americans—81%—believe it is more humane to leave a stray cat outside to live out her life than have her caught and killed, according to a national survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Alley Cat Allies. Your community can be a safer place for feral cats if it embraces Trap-Neuter-Return.

Show your support for stray and feral cats on National Feral Cat Day—and all year round—by educating and informing your friends, neighbors, and veterinarian about these feral cat facts. Write a letter to the editor of your town’s paper, hand out information at special events (like a fair) and public places (like a shopping mall), or place an ad in your community newsletter. Samples for all of these materials are available to download online at www.alleycat.org/NFCD.

Here are three more things you can do:

1. Direct your veterinarian to our special web center dedicated to feral cat veterinary care at www.alleycat.org/Veterinarian. What better way to reach out to fellow cat lovers? Put our expert advice in the hands of the professionals people turn to for help.

2. Confirm your ally status. Commit to protecting cats along with Alley Cat Allies on National Feral Cat Day and all year round. Sign the “I’m an Alley Cat Ally” photo pledge and submit your photo online of you and your pets holding the signed pledge. Ask your friends and family to do it too! Find more information online at www.alleycat.org/NFCD.

3. Host an event. Your efforts help us achieve our goals of protecting and improving the lives of cats. Invite your friends and family and other people who care about cats, and be sure to tell us and others in your local community about it by registering your event online at www.alleycat.org/NFCD.

With your help, we can truly make a difference in cats’ lives by simply sharing with others the fact that feral cats require a different kind of care. Education is an important first step in protecting cats in towns all across the country—you can be their voice.

1 comment:

Joanne Kramer said...

It is also important to remind people that feral cat populations exist BECAUSE of people. Leaving unspayed/unneutered cats to roam or "dumping" unwanted pets are the main reasons for the over-population of cats. Of course those who contribute to this problem will not be the ones to take care of it. That is up to those of us who have compassion for animals. Speaking from personal experience, caring for a feral colony is not difficult or expensive. And although most of these cats will never welcome human contact, they are very interesting to observe.