October marks the 11th annual National Feral Cat Day. The program’s creator, Alley Cat Allies has challenged the nation to sponsor 250 events across the country and prove that Americans care about cats coast to coast.
To inspire local non-profit animal welfare organizations to start planning special events and community awareness programs, Alley Cat Allies is offering two types of cash awards. Charities must register on the National Feral Cat Day website by August 12, 2011.
The Trailblazer Award is a challenge to encourage all 50 states to take part in the event. In 2010 fourteen states did not register an event, so Alley Cat Allies is offering a cash award of $500 to each one that participates in 2011. Applicants must participate in one of several approved events listed on the website.
The eligible states are: Alaska, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.
The Superstar Award of $1,000 will be given to the “top five organizational events chosen by Alley Cat Allies awards committee demonstrating innovation or effectiveness in ANY state across the country.”
“Alley Cat Allies launched National Feral Cat Day in 2001 to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return, and recognize the millions of compassionate citizens who care about cats. On National Feral Cat Day and all year round, people all across the country work to draw attention to the cause and press their local leaders for humane policies for feral cats,” said Becky Robinson president of Alley Cat Allies.
Robinson shared in a recent interview, “Eleven years ago TNR was not a household term and people didn’t understand that feral cats were the offspring of stray cats. So we decided to create a special day that would make the public aware that feral cats live and thrive in every landscape.”
Robinson said there are other benefits of National Feral Cat Day. “It is a way for animal groups to share ideas. Smaller organizations sometimes feel they are all alone in their efforts, but NFCD helps them see what other groups are doing and gives them the opportunity to network.”
Sometimes the information shared is revolutionary and sometimes it is the small, practical ideas that help.
Robinson said that one neighborhood didn’t want the feral cats returned after they were sterilized because they were afraid of the damage they would do to their homes or cars. Alley Cat Allies helped by providing education to the neighbors and items such as covers to protect their cars.
National Feral Cat Day events include: Trap-Neuter-Return programs; holding educational workshops; handing out brochures and leaflets at public spaces or community events; expanding a spay/neuter clinic to include feral cats; or going door-to-door with a team of volunteers to educate neighbors about the care of cats including spay and neuter.
A complete list of ideas and resources is available at: www.alleycat.org/NFCD.
Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocate for stray and feral cats in the country.
Photo from ihasb33r via flickr.