It’s National Feral Cat Day—what better occasion to recognize some of the positive developments in feral cat/TNR advocacy I’ve observed over the past two-and-a-half years since launching Vox Felina?
Alley Cat Allies
National Feral Cat Day debuted in 2001, created by Alley Cat Allies “to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Return, and recognize the millions of compassionate Americans who care for them.” As of yesterday, ACA had registered 368 events for this year’s celebration, and they were still hearing from activists eager to get on board. All 50 states are represented, and events are going on in other countries as well.
Nearly 300 groups applied for National Feral Cat Day Community Impact Awards; 22 winners received $1,000 each, while 16 runner-ups received $500 each. For additional details, check out the ACA website.
Best Friends Animal Society
It was just about two years ago that Best Friends (wisely!) hired Laura Nirenberg as legislative attorney for their Focus on Felines campaign. I’m honored to be joining Laura, along with Lisa Tudor, Director of Development and Outreach for the Foundation Against Companion-Animal Euthanasia (FACE), at the upcoming No More Homeless Pets Conference as we present Taking It to the Street (Cats): Grassroots Advocacy for Community Cats.
The Humane Society of the United States
Another reason I’m looking forward to this year’s conference: meeting Katie Lisnik, director of cat protection and policy for HSUS. This, of course, was the position that Michael Hutchins, former executive director/CEO of The Wildlife Society, referred to as “wild bird executioner” in his August 16, 2011 blog post. While Katie and I have yet to officially meet, it’s difficult not to like—automatically—anybody whose hiring got Hutchins so agitated.
National Animal Control Association
Although TNR is still not endorsed by the entire animal control community, there seems to be a significant shift in that direction at the National Animal Control Association. The September/October 2011 issue of NACA News, for example, featured an article by Lynne Achterberg, founding board member of Santa Cruz, California’s Project Purr, highlighting the benefits of TNR. In “Paradigm Shift: Return to Field,” Achterberg explained that for communities interested in increasing their shelters’ live release rates, “TNR and inclusion of feral cats is key.”
In the January/February 2012 issue, NACA president Todd Stosuy cited TNR as one “proactive animal program” that “can help reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter, and thus reduce euthanasia in the long-run.”
TNR Going Mainstream
It’s no surprise, really, that people support TNR over lethal control methods—we are, after all, a nation of animal lovers. But it’s another thing for TNR to become a more integrated part of the culture. Here, too, there’s good news to report.
Witness, for example, two recent books on the subject: Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat (released today to correspond with NFCD, and which I reviewed for Moderncat) and Fairminded Fran and the Three Small Black Community Cats.
And it seems the rest of the world has figured out what some of us have known for a while now: it’s hip to be tipped. Check out the specially-designed pillowcases and tote bags by Xenotees (whose founder is donating all related profits to Four The Paws, a Philadelphia area rescue). Additional “ear-tipped” items are being featured today at Moderncat (where, by the way, you can get in on an NFCD giveaway).
Vox Felina Supporters
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge my many readers. I know from the e-mail I receive, and comments posted on the Vox Felina Facebook page, of your tireless support for TNR, and feral cats in general. “Regular folks” concerned for the welfare of feral, stray, and abandoned cats who are engaging their government officials and neighbors; “freelance” colony caregivers sharing their hard-won knowledge with others; and various well-established organizations shaping policy at the state and national level—I am humbled by your commitment and compassion.
Thank you for your support, and for all that you do on behalf of the cats!