October 16 is National Feral Cat Day. It’s an annual event established in 2001 by Alley Cat Allies to raise awareness about feral cats, promote Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR), and empower and mobilize the people who care about the cats. This year’s theme is Evolution of the Revolution.
Not long ago, the idea of trapping feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and then returning them to the community was revolutionary. People used to sneak around deserted alleys in the dark to feed feral cats, with the fear that these unsocialized felines would be picked up and euthanized at the shelter if they were discovered. TNR was an underground movement trying to overthrow the establishment and the old-school catch-and-kill mentality.
Now, Washington Humane Society's “CatNiPP” staff drive around in a big, bright yellow van announcing that we can help outdoor cats. There are posters on Metro buses, too. We encourage people to feed the neighborhood strays and provide guidance on how to do so responsibly. We promote providing winter shelters for community cats and even showcase shelters designed by local architects at our annual Designs for Felines event.
We are determined to show that TNR works to improve the lives of cats and ultimately decrease the number of cats who need our help. This month marks the end of the first year of an ambitious three-year project, funded by PetSmart Charities, to spay or neuter 8,100 cats found outside in the D.C. neighborhoods located to the east of the Anacostia River. We are a visible part of the community, passing out flyers and talking to people on the streets, attending community meetings, and networking with neighborhood leaders.
Instead of being underground, we are shouting from the rooftops!
I’d like to invite you to shout along with us.
Join WHS CatNiPP staff in the field trapping and releasing of community cats. There is no other urban adventure like it. It is like a combination of Hide-and-Seek and Chess, played outdoors with an audience. Experience the thrill of catching a cat and the joy of releasing him back home after surgery. We are out there nearly every day. Let us know you are interested by emailing CatNiPP@washhumane.org with the subject line “I want to trap cats”.
I want to thank all of you for your overwhelming support for our community cats. As I mentioned in my blog post on August 26, the cats of the District need your help and they need it NOW.
We have created a sample letter (below) to help you craft your own comment. PLEASE DO NOT SEND THIS LETTER AS IS! It is VITAL that you make the letter your own because your opinions matter to your elected officials.
You do not need to use all of the points; use what is comfortable and important to you – and make sure your comments reflect your experiences and concerns.
Please submit your comments by September 7 by mail or email; be sure to reference the Wildlife Action Plan 2015.
Mail: District Department on the Environment
Fisheries and Wildlife Division
1200 First Street NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Subject: Wildlife Action Plan
I live in the <identify your neighborhood> and am a long-time supporter of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) practices. TNR is a humane and effective means for controlling the cat population within the District.
As the nation’s capital, I expect DC to explore and implement innovative and progressive solutions to the challenges we face and not reinstitute failed programs of the past. TNR was a positive replacement for the failed trap and kill policy in place for decades prior. I encourage the DDOE to revisit the inclusion of free ranging cats and TNR in the final version of the Wildlife Action Plan.
The District of Columbia recognized this fact years ago when they mandated TNR as the preferred method for Animal Control to use. Recently, the District’s Department of the Environment (DDOE) published their draft “Wildlife Action Plan” for 2015 and is calling for the city to “revisit” its policy on TNR. Using a well-known anti-TNR group, the American Bird Conservancy, as consultants DDOE is citing studies that were found to be outdated and taken out of context. DDOE is advocating that feral cats be trapped and placed into “adoption facilities” knowing full well that feral cats are not social companion animals like the ones found in our homes. What this proposed policy would result in is the rounding up and killing of feral cats – essentially a reversal back to the animal policies of the 1800’s that were ultimately proven to have no impact on the population at all.
TNR works. TNR is being utilized all over the country and indeed around the globe. TNR ensures that the cats are spayed or neutered, stopping continued breeding and reducing populations over time. TNR also provides for a healthier population through vaccinations and dedicated caregivers who donate their own time and money to the continuous care of the cats.
Now is the time to act! The draft “Wildlife Action Plan” has a public comment period which closes on September 7th 2015. All comments submitted should be clearly marked “Wildlife Action Plan” and either mailed or hand-delivered to DDOE, Fisheries and Wildlife Division, 1200 First Street NE, 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20002, Attention: Wildlife Action Plan, or via email at SWAP.Comments@dc.gov
Let DDOE know that you care about the lives of these cats and don’t want to live in or visit a city where cats are rounded up and killed. Please submit your comments today!
To learn more about WHS’ efforts with TNR visit our web site here
By Danielle Bays, Community Cat Programs Manager
As we celebrate the 14th annual National Feral Cat Day, I think about how far we’ve come. At one time, those who advocated for feral cats often acted like them: slinking around alleys under cover of night. The concept of caring for the cats living outside (rather than removing them) was slow to be accepted, so caregivers often worked under the cover of darkness. Today, it is a different story. What we have come to find is just how many other people, including those who don’t self-identify as feral cat advocates, are involved in the lives of our neighborhood cats.
When I moved into my house six years ago, I found that a large population of cats lived next door. My next-door neighbor, Flora, made sure all the strays had two solid meals a day. She had caring for generations of outdoor cats since she and her family moved there in 1956. As much as she loved always having cats around, Flora was really excited about the idea of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), where we’d catch all the cats, have them sterilized and vaccinated at the Washington Humane Society (WHS) National Capitol Area Spay and Neuter Center, then bring them back home. This would prevent more kittens from being born and eventually see the population age-out.
WHS Proudly Presents the 2013 STATE OF THE ANIMALS
In the last fiscal year alone, the Washington Humane Society (WHS) helped thousands of animals in the DC area, including finding loving homes for more than 2,500 pets.
Thank you for helping to make the last year our best ever!
June 06, 2013 in Adoption , Animal Control, Animal Rescue, Behavior & Learning Center, CatNiPP, Current Affairs, Events, Foster Program, Humane Education, Humane Law Enforcement , Inside WHS, National Capital Spay & Neuter Clinic, News & Tips, Supporters, Volunteers, WHS Alumni, WHS Programs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Green, Communications and Digital Media Specialist
Contributed to by Gibby Booth, WHS Foster Parent
65 kittens and 9 nursing moms with litters need foster homes and more are coming into our shelters daily. These new moms and bottle-fed babies need a quiet home environment to grow strong and healthy in, so when they are old enough, they’ll be nice and feisty for their new forever families! Fostering saves lives, and all you need is a little extra space in your home and a big heart.
Microchips and ID Tags Save Lives
By Lauren Green, Communications and Digital Media Specialist
It can happen in an instant – a door left open by accident, looking away for a mere second – and your dog or cat disappears. In the wake of the Oklahoma tornado tragedy, we hope that all animal owners will have their pets microchipped, a small step that could make the difference between a lost or stray animal and your pet coming home to their family. In 2012 alone, the Washington Humane Society (WHS) saw more than 500 animals returned to their loved ones, many through the help of microchips, ID tags or lost reports. These are just three stories of lives changed by taking a few extra steps before disaster strikes.
By Danielle Bays, Community Cats Program Manager
On a sunny Sunday morning, cats Ale and Duchess packed their bags and prepared to move to their new home. Or rather, they had us do the packing and moving… and the construction of their temporary housing. A few months ago, these two cats found themselves at the Washington Humane Society (WHS), unable to return to their old homes, but also not well suited for traditional adoption. Our Relo-Cat program was established to find alternative homes for cats just like Ale and Duchess.
By Danielle Bays, WHS Community Cats Program Manager
I’ve spent a lot of time in alleys across the District looking for community cats. Most of them keep their distance, but I can usually get a good enough look at them to see if they have been spayed or neutered. No, it is not that I have X-ray vision or some magical way to tell if they have reproductive organs or not. It is because the sterilized outdoor cats have been “ear-tipped.”
An ear-tip is the universal sign of a spayed or neutered free-roaming cat.
Since the Washington Humane Society (WHS) started the Cat Neighborhood Partnership Program (CatNiPP), we’ve spayed and neutered thousands of free-roaming cats. Our Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program is based on others like it across the county and is promoted by DC law as an effective model to control outdoor cat populations. In addition to the sterilization surgeries and vaccinations, each cat is ear-tipped. While the cat is anesthetized for surgery, approximately one-quarter of an inch of the cat’s left ear is cropped by one of our veterinarians. This doesn’t hurt and it heals quite quickly.