A Tale of Two Kitties: Changing Communities For Feral Cats

Written by Becky Robinson, President and Co-founder of Alley Cat Allies

Every morning after the city’s gridlock has peaked, Dolores Smith loads up her old Volvo with kibble and canned cat food and starts driving through Washington, D.C. By lunchtime she’ll have visited three neighborhoods where hungry feral cats will be anticipating the sound of her car.

Dolores is fortunate to live in a community that embraces Trap-Neuter-Return, the humane approach to feral cats. In 2004, Alley Cat Allies, Washington Animal Rescue League, Washington Humane Society, and the District of Columbia Department of Health launched a pilot TNR program. Under the program, animal control officers and shelter officials referred calls about feral cats to Alley Cat Allies, which then worked with residents and volunteers like Dolores to humanely trap cats and bring them to local clinics for subsidized spay/neuter and other veterinary services. In 2008, the situation in D.C. got even better for the cats and their caregivers: The District passed a law requiring Animal Care and Control to practice TNR in managing the feral cat population.

National Feral Cat Day® is October 16, and our theme this year is Changing Communities for Cats. Washington, D.C. has proven that it’s possible to turn around the places where we live, even communities as vast as our nation’s capital.

Alley Cat Allies knows that the key to change is supporting animal lovers where they live—in tiny towns, in big cities, and in places in between—especially now as they observe National Feral Cat Day® with innovative and lifesaving programs.

Consider the program in Wake County, N.C. When the local government undermined existing support for TNR, Alley Cat Allies collaborated with grassroots groups Operation Catnip and SPCA of Wake County to push back. Today, Wake County has a new TNR ordinance, and Alley Cat Allies is assisting with the launch of an entirely new animal control and shelter philosophy and practice. The friends of feral cats there can all celebrate this victory.

You—who care for animals, who carry out hands-on work, who conduct spay/neuter clinics, and who talk to neighbors about TNR—are the people we assist. And this year, just for you, we created the Guide for Community Change. This booklet includes guidance about everything from starting a pilot TNR program to raising money to sustain your efforts.

And no effort to help cats is too small. We’re here to support you: Participate in National Feral Cat Day® on October 16th. Register your event here.

The two gorgeous cats featured on our National Feral Cat Day® poster this year are in Dolores’ care. Their Washington, D.C. colony has thrived for almost a decade. These cats are proof that the dream for a safe place for cats can be a reality. This is what National Feral Cat Day® is all about—building humane communities for all cats.


Related Stories:

Study Finds Cats Hunt More Critters Than We Thought

What to Do When You Encounter Homeless People With Pets

Heroes Free Cat With Head Trapped in Jar for 6 Days



Cheryl Mallon-Bond

Contin-The other thing that breaks my heart is that there are just not enough resources to get abandoned domestics & kittens of the streets for good! WAY TOO MANY remain!!! People need to understand that UNLESS FOSTERS STEP UP!, & PEOPLE HELP DONATE to defer costs! Many many that could otherwise get off the streets & get a forever Homs NEVER WILL!. It annoys me to no end that people just can't extend themselves in any way whatsoever!, so people like myself & others like me keep taking in more & more out of the goodness of our hearts because we cannot turn our backs on their suffering, only to become so overwhelmed ourselves. I just can't take anymore in, not even to foster because that is how so many ended up with me permanently, because no-one wanted them; so I have ALL the "misfits", the blind, the neurological, the shy, etc. I pray for a world where this suffering ends!, but I unfortunately don't see this happending in my lifetime. I have lost faith in humans long ago!

Cheryl Mallon-Bond

As a cat rescuer, TNR is the only way to go!, unfortunately way too many people in my community have ZERO TOLERANCE to them being in the community at all! God forbid they go on their lawns, or try to find despite from the frigid temps somewhere on their precious properties. Even a wooded area amongst a residential area that I had permission from the property owner to care for the cats is now targeted! They have harassed the owner relentlessly & called the board of health & now I am banned from feeding them & have to feed them literally on the street to keep them from starving but at the risk of being physically threatened by neighbors! & the cats are being threatened too! & now with all their housing thrown away they have no protection from the elements. Now I have to find relocation for them, which is really Almost impossible to do!, & sanctuaries cost a minimum of $350 per cat to get them in, even IF you can get them in...there's the re-trapping them (sometimes very difficult to do!), the cost of re-vetting them, finding a holding situation, transporting them. It is a HUGE undertaking! & I am up against this same scenario in MULTIPLE colony situations! & I don't have these resources! What the hell am I supposed to do!!!!!!!!?????????

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you Care2 Causes Editors, for Sharing this!

Quinton Smith
Quinton Smith5 years ago

This is why 10 years ago I started Paw Town Cats Rescue after seeing person after person walking by a sick 8 week old kitten trying get some food an maybe a little love from passers by now she has a happy an loving furever home with me her name is Oscar an to this day I will keep spending money out of my pocket to care for an give a loving safe furever home to all forgotten cats an kittens that some how find there way to my welding shop I have 53 happy an loving Moggies living with me an the reward of seeing a happy cat playing an sleeping without fear maybe for the first time in there life is "PRICELESS" mother nature did not make stray cats an kittens puppy's an dogs "WE HUMANS MADE THEM" an we humans must take care of them an not "KILL THEM". =^..^=

Have you taken in a stray kitty today

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe5 years ago

15 years ago, I did not believe in TNR because I felt sorry for the cats being put back outside in extreme weather. But, euthanasia is NOT an option!! I believe Alley Cats does a great job of taking care of the unwanted babies!!!

It breaks my heart finding out that 7 out of 10 cats in a shelter end up being killed!! We need to keep them out of the shelters by spaying and neutering!!!

Our shelter offers a discounted spay/neuter clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays, but they still have a board up stating the euthansias for the year (heartbreaking)!!

I wish I could give all strays and ferals a home!!!

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

Thanks for this article. And thank you for all you do for the feral cats!!!

Carrie Anne Brown

great article :) thanks for sharing

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago

Great Artcle and Beautiful Babies ( I call them All Babies ) Love 'N' prayers Barb E. :) :)

Georgeta Trandafir

Keep up the great work.

Loretta P.
Loretta P5 years ago

AWESOME!! I pray your efforts cause a widespread outpouring of care to feral cats. We must do all we can to help our less fortunate animal companions. Alley Cat Allies rock !!