Oct 16, 2012

National Feral Cat Day: You Don't Have to Be Cuddly to Be Cute

Some of the cats that mean the most to me won't even let me near them. I can't hug them or kiss them and they don't sleep in the bed with me. If I can catch them off guard and get a little pet in on their back while they're eating, it's something to celebrate.

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.)
We've found wonderful homes for some and we've cried over many as we've had to say goodbye for various health reasons, and every single one of them has had plenty of food to eat and fresh water every single day.

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.
Sweet Pea and Westin will let me pet them and love to rub and get attention. Crybaby, Stitch and Orange Guy keep their distance. Orange Guy hisses from two feet away, but we know it's out of love. Stitch is coming around, I think, and this weekend I actually pet her a few times while she was eating. Crybaby is, well, he's Crybaby. He darts away, but if you time it just right, you can maybe rub his back one time.

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!

Some resources:

Alley Cat Allies
National Feral Cat Day stuff to share on Facebook
TNR Guide
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!


  1. You and your friends are among God's angels on earth.

  2. Thank you for spreading the word about National Feral Day and for all you are doing to help cats, you are a kitty angel =^..^=

  3. Great post. I think feral cats deserve a chance too.

  4. Thanks @facebook-593751363:disqus! Feral cats are the best! <3

  5. fabulous post! i shared the love!

  6. Thanks, Caren! All kitties deserve the best of love! :)

  7. I have taken care of so many ferals over the last 20 years...I have tamed and rehomed many of them. Each one always carries a spot in your heart....

  8. I just finished TNR my colony. I kept 1, released 7 back to my yard where they hang out and 3 kittens are in a foster home waiting for their forever homes! The group that helped me is funded through Alley Cat Allies. Feral kitties are special too!!!

  9. Feral kitties make wonderful companions. I have had several that I brought inside. They are loving and sweet.

  10. Hi Dorian! Fello Feral Cat Lady here. Thank you for all you do! Together we can make a difference! Christine

  11. Love those feral cats! Not only am I able to change their life but changed my life forever and for the better! Here are my crazy cat lady photos. I got suited up! www.riverfrontcats.com

  12. Deb Barnes - Zee and ZoeyOctober 16, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Great post, Dorian! Thank you for sharing your feral cat history. I am so pleased to see how many of us are sharing the message today and truly hope that it can help to dispell the reactionary fears and misconceptions to a wider audience. Thanks for all you do to help these cats - it is clear how deeply you care about them!

  13. Great Post Dorian, and you have done such a good job to get the word out about the feral cats. I just love seeing so many people taking care of feral kitties.

  14. Thanks, Marg! I am so happy to see so many posts and people sharing today. I love the support feral kitties are getting!

  15. You are a true hero! Thank you for your service to cats everywhere.
    We each give in our own way, but you've chosen a hard one. Hurray for you and your other 'parking lot ladies' who feed and look after the community cats.

    A little comment about feral kitties - I am currently fostering two. They were rescued at the age of five weeks on a farm. They'd had NO human contact up to that time. Well, I've had them for another eight weeks or so, and one of them is ready for surgery, but they STILL won't voluntarily come for petting. Of course, I'm the mean catmom who had to ream out their ears, force-feed one of them, work with them through food allergies, and other bad things. So they don't appreciate me very much. But they are not adoptable! I can't send them up to the cat room to be adopted, because they won't let anyone pick them up! This is the first time this has ever, ever happened to me. I'm GOOD at socializing cats. But these two just have me stymied. If they're not adoptable, if they don't get adopted, their future existence is a big question mark.
    What can I do? Anyone?

  16. Thank you Dorian. THANK YOU. Cats need good press and Dash and I have posted for National Feral Cat Day.

  17. It's true! All cats are beautiful! Even the ugly ones. I'm fostering a little guy right now who is hydrocephalic - his head is almost twice it's normal size and his eyes bug out because of the pressure behind them - and he is the cutest little guy in the world. Whenever I take him back to the shelter for medication or whatever, he gets carried around for hours by other members - he's a rock star here. Everyone has photos of him on their phones.

  18. I'll post on Facebook, @ajjohnson31:disqus, and see what people suggest!

  19. Sounds uncomfortable but, as long as he's not, it's all good.
    I certainly wouldn't mind a cat's appearance, as long as the personality was there.
    It sounds as though your cat has plenty :)

  20. Wonderful program! People forget, europe killed all their cats once and look what happened! Feral cats keep rodent populations down, but also snakes! (you'd be surprised what can live in a city)


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