A pet calendar date dear to my heart is National Feral Cat Day. Celebrated on October 16, the goal is to raise awareness of community cats and to promote Trap Neuter Release (TNR) as the best method for stabilizing cat populations. Alley Cat Allies initiated this day on 2001 on the group’s 10th anniversary.
Who are Alley Cat Allies? Founded in 1990 and headquartered in Maryland, Alley Cat Allies is the only national cat advocacy organization “dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats.” It boasts more than 600,000 supporters.
For more than 26 years, Alley Cat Allies has been leading the movement to protect and improve the lives of cats everywhere, and this year’s National Feral Cat Day theme reflects that. From the pet cats in your home to the outdoor cats in communities around the world, all cats deserve our care and protection. Together, we are creating change that saves their lives.
–Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies, National Feral Cat Day® Is October 16
What is TNR? It’s a policy whereby community cats are trapped, brought to local participating vets to be neutered, and returned to their colonies. (While a cat is under sedation for surgery, a quarter of an inch is removed from the tip of the left or right ear, providing it with the universal mark of a neutered community cat.) By neutering feral cats, their populations won’t increase due to a continuous cycle of kittens. By returning feral cats to their colonies, they’re given the chance to live instead of risking their almost certain euthanasia in shelters. Typical TNR colonies will have caretakers who not only ensure that the cats receive vaccinations, but also provide daily water, food, and shelter, and monitor their health.
Why do community cats need their own day? There are an estimated forty million homeless cats in the United States. Some grow up never knowing human touch, while others are strays or abandoned pets. Most municipalities catch and impound feral cats, briefly attempt to find adoptive homes, and ultimately euthanize the majority. Feral Cat Day brings awareness to the plight of community cats.
How can you help? Foremost, you can have your cats neutered and thereby ensure that no more unwanted kittens will be born. Beyond this, here are some suggestions:
- Educate yourself and others about issues that impact feral cats
- Donate to local TNR programs (such as those run by The Cat House and Husker Cats here in Lincoln)
- Volunteer for or organize your own TNR program
- Encourage government proclamations (Christine Booras in Me, My Ferals, and I tells how she got her city’s mayor to declare a local Feral Cat Day)
- Create a local Feral Cat Day and register your events with Alley Cat Allies
Feral Cat Day has been dear to my heart since my involvement with TNR through Husker Cats. I’ve come to know the name of cat in the colony I help care for. When one shows up during feeding time, my heart soars. In spring 2015, my husband and I even adopted a colony cat. You can read her story and more about TNR at the following links: