Vox Felina’s Five-Year Anniversary

It’s difficult for me to believe now, but when I first created Vox Felina five years ago, I worried that I would one day run out of material to blog about. Today, 314 blog posts, 850 subscribers, 4,028 likes on Facebook, and 1,028 Twitter followers later, I can see my concerns were completely unwarranted. Which, of course, is a shame. Like just about everybody else involved in animal welfare, I would like very much to put myself out of business.

As I explained in my first blog post, I see the hijacking of science by TNR opponents as a significant barrier to developing sound public policy. I’ve spent a great deal of energy over the past five years trying to set the record straight, and remain committed to that mission. There is, as regular readers will surely recognize, much work to be done.

There’s also work to be done on the blog itself. Five years on, the layout is looking rather dated; a new look with additional functionality (e.g., responsive theme for easy reading on phones and tablets) is long overdue. And, maybe it’s time to allow comments on each post, too—something I’ve been reluctant to do from the start.

So, stay tuned—and thank you all for your ongoing support.

2011 No More Homeless Pets National Conference

I’m off to Las Vegas for the 2011 No More Homeless Pets National Conference! Not sure I’ll have time (not to mention the typing skills) for any live blogging, but I’ll be posting photos and occasional updates on the Vox Felina Facebook page.

Looking forward to the informative workshops, inspirational speakers, and—best of all—catching up with friends and colleagues I don’t see often enough. If you’ll be there, please track me down and say hello.

Hoarding: Mendota, Illinois

On Tuesday, Illinois Valley Cat Taxi, Inc., located in Mendota (about 100 miles southwest of Chicago) put out a plea for help.

“Last week we were called to assist the cats living in and outside of a home where a lady with a serious hoarding illness resides. Neighbors were concerned about sick cats, dead cats, foul smells coming from the home, filth. In cooperation with Social Services and with rescue help from Spay It Forward, we went to the scene Saturday evening and began removing the most urgent cats.”

As the photos (some of the them on the graphic side) demonstrate the neighbors had good reason to be concerned. (Photos are posted on Cat Taxi’s blog and their Facebook page.)

Not surprisingly, this rescue is far from over.

“…our work continues removing cats even as we tend to the wounded we’ve already taken in. Many of the cats are friendly—these each deserve a new, loving home where they will be cherished and we will ensure that each cat receives a wonderful new home once they are healthy, neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped [adoption applications]. Many of the cats are feral—these will each enter our Barn Cat Program and be relocated in groups to farm adopters where they will have haylofts to sleep in, field mice to chase, and full bowls of chow every day.”

Last I checked, the group is $595 toward their goal of $2,500 (the estimated cost of veterinary care). If you can help, please do so.

Cat Taxi is making it quick and easy—see their blog for the ChipIn! donation link.

Not in a position to donate right now? It’s understandable. You can always show them your support by “Liking” their Facebook page (and while you’re at it, how about “Liking” the Spay It Forward (brilliant name!) page, too?).

My sincere thanks to the people at Illinois Valley Pet Taxi, Inc. and Spay It Forward for stepping in!

If You Build It, They Will Come

Vox Felina logo: one-year anniversary

…though I am certainly in the “pro-cat” camp, I am not at all “anti-wildlife.” I’m far more interested in finding common ground than I am in further polarizing the parties involved. That said, I will not stand idly by while opponents of feral/free-roaming cats—and TNR in particular—mishandle, misconstrue, and misrepresent the research for PR purposes.

…effective public policy… is needed more urgently than ever. But to get there—to really tackle this incredibly complex issue—we first need to untangle some of what’s being said. This is precisely what I intend to do with Vox Felina. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it so eloquently, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

I wrote those words a year ago today, thus launching Vox Felina.

A year into this project, the vision and mission remain unchanged. As does my commitment to “illuminate” the bogus claims made by those who continue to promote the shameless witch hunt against free-roaming cats.

This commitment, I now realize, will keep me busy for a very long time. (Imagine: at one time, I actually worried about running out of material!)

Over the past twelve months, I’ve accumulated hundreds of academic papers, theses and dissertations, book chapters, reports of all kinds, and newspaper articles. (Despite the cumbersome nature of the process, I still believe in reading what I cite; this, I’ve learned, is not to be taken for granted.)

Posts frequently exceed 4,000—even 5,000 words. (At 348 words, that inaugural post was easily one of the “leanest.”) And still, the to-do list continues to grow.

But, so does the audience.

Vox Felina has attracted the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle, Best Friends Animal Society, and Animal Wise Radio, among others.

At last check, the blog has 157 subscribers and 621 “Likes” on the Vox Felina Facebook page.

Best of all—and much to my surprise and delight—the blog has attracted a team of die-hard supporters who go out of their way to provide me with news items, background information and material, and invaluable feedback. To these bright, ambitious, and generous souls—many of whom I’ve yet to meet—I am immensely grateful and deeply indebted.

As I say, the task at hand is greater than I anticipated—but so is the collective will to accomplish the task. So, a moment of celebration (e.g., a slice of cake, a toast, etc.), and then it’s back to work.

Year 2 begins…

Without Apologies

The conversation continues on Audubon magazine’s blog, The Perch, with Travis Longcore doing everything he can to dodge the straightforward question I posed: If TNR and the feeding of feral cats are outlawed, then what will become of the many, many cats no longer receiving human assistance?

Among the topics he prefers to discuss are—and I have to say, this one caught me by surprise—me. Especially my reference to him as a “great purveyor of misrepresentations and bias” on the Vox Felina Facebook page. OK, perhaps I could have worded that differently, but as I point out in my most recent reply (fourth comment, page 2), if he’s going to stand by his 2009 paper, then he really has earned the title.

In his reply to a post by Vox Felina reader Laurie G., of Stray Pet Advocacy, Longcore lays out a litany of complaints against me:

“Peter Wolf has been attacking scientists with demeaning generalizations and grossly inflammatory statements on his blog for months now. He can also be clever and I appreciate the exchange we’re having on this page, but he accuses scientists of being grossly in competent and corrupt on a regular basis (bordering on slander) so I’m not going to apologize for being critical of him. Given the level of rhetoric on his blog and his vox felina persona on FB directed at me, this [is] a comparatively civil discussion.”

I don’t know about “bordering on slander.” I try to keep my criticisms focused on specific aspects of specific studies, reports, reviews, etc. And I go out of my way not to make hasty generalizations. As for all the rest: guilty.

Meanwhile, over at The Wildlife Society blog, Making Tracks, my comment (asking Executive Director/CEO Michael Hutchins the same question I posed to Longcore) has yet to be approved despite repeated attempts on my end. Apparently, my last exchange with Hutchins was…. well, my last exchange.


One of the greatest advantages of online content is the ability to easily share that content with others, a digital-era grassroots tool of particular importance for issues as contentious and under-reported as the “cat debate.” So, beginning with today’s post, it’s easier than ever to spread the word about Vox Felina. Using the toolbar at the bottom of each post, you can share my analysis and commentary via your favorite social media outlets (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc.).

I’ve also created a Facebook page where, in addition to re-posting Vox Felina content, I’ll be commenting on news stories from various other sources (e.g., newspapers, blogs, etc.). I encourage readers to join in the discussion. If you like what you see, please “Like” the Vox Felina page, and invite your friends, family, and colleagues to do the same.