These are feral cats. They're not cuddly, but they're cute... and very special to me.
Today is National Feral Cat Day, an annual day started over a decade ago by Alley Cat Allies, one of my favorite organizations in the whole wide world. Other big organizations say they support all cats, but Alley Cat Allies is special -- they focus on feral and stray cats, or as they call them, "community cats."
National Feral Cat Day was started to promote the humane care of feral cats and to educate everyone about how important (and effective!) Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, is. I can't think of a better day to get behind and support. I am behind this 100%!
|The Meows! Little Meow in front, Daddy Meow in back.|
I don't remember exactly when I realized how much feral cats needed our help. About seven years ago, I saw a black cat in my office parking lot. I probably tried to call it. I'm sure it didn't come.
I kept seeing that same cat, and noticed he had a friend... a beautiful, petite tuxie. After I saw them a few times, I decided to bring a small Ziploc of my cat's food with me to work to give to them. I named those two cats The Meows, and I really believe it was them that got me so active in the rescue and cat-saving world.
Fast forward about a year later, and there were suddenly 14 parking lot kitties in different lots at office park I was helping care for (with the help of two other wonderful women!). Most people didn't even know the cats were there, but they were -- and some still are -- a huge part of our lives. They were all spayed/neutered.
Now, seven years later, thanks to TNR and making sure they each get any vet visits they need (and us helping them to the Bridge when they tell us they are ready), there are only five cats left there.
|Me feeding Lilo, one of the parking lot kitties. (She is at the Bridge now.)|
Over the years, we've had some rough times where we've had to convince different property managers or close-minded people to let them stay. It seems like every couple years it comes up; last year the hotel next door even hired a company to set traps for them (not a kitty was caught, smart kitties!).
|Sweet Pea, looking gorgeous as usual.|
Feral cats have been getting some really bad press lately and it's up to us to change the way the world thinks about them. They are not rabid, they will not hunt you down and bite you and they are not a health risk. Feral cats keep to themselves and most of the time you don't even know they're there. They are scared of people and hide in bushes. All they want is to live in peace (and maybe a little water and food if you can).
So won't you help me spread the word? Feral cats are our friends!
Alley Cat Allies
National Feral Cat Day stuff to share on Facebook
Great resources for dealing with property management that wants feral cats removed
P.S. We may need to launch an all-out campaign to find Sweet Pea a home real soon. More details coming. She is my favorite one out there right now!