National Feral Cat Day is Sunday, Oct. 16, and local animal rescue organizations are celebrating. Alley Cat Allies, a group that champions the humane treatment of all cats, launched National Feral Cat Day on their tenth anniversary in 2001 to raise awareness about feral cats (also known as community cats), promote the Trap-Neuter-Return process and "empower and mobilize the millions of compassionate Americans who care for them. "
Partner For Paws, a Sussex County-based 501c3 nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing rescue groups together to accomplish more, is heading up National Feral Cat Day in Delaware. Director Kate Hungerford of Ocean View says, "I always considered myself a dog person, but being in rescue, I got so many calls regarding needy cats. I just fell into it because there's such a void of cat resources in Delaware."
According to Alley Cat Allies:
- Cats have lived alongside humans for more than 10,000 years. They are part of the natural landscape. Feral cats, also called community or outdoor cats, are the same species as pet cats, live in groups called colonies and can thrive in every landscape. They are just as healthy as pet cats, but they are not socialized to humans and are therefore unadoptable.
- Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane and effective approach to caring for community cats and stabilizing the cat population. From 2003 to 2013 the number of local governments with official policies endorsing TNR increased tenfold, with hundreds of cities and towns successfully carrying out TNR programs. That number continues to grow every year.
- In many cities, cats are still caught and brought to animal shelters and pounds, where most are killed. In fact, the shelter system is the number one documented cause of death for cats in the United States. About 70 percent of cats who enter shelters are killed there, and that number rises to virtually 100 percent for feral cats. That's why it's so important for people to join together to change policies and create compassionate communities for cats.
Partners for Paws has united Delaware animal rescue groups, including Compassion For Cats Of Delaware, Sussex TNR, Cats Around Town and Saved Souls Animal Rescue, to trap, neuter and return as many feral cats as possible Oct. 16. Brandywine Valley SPCA, a state-contracted organization, will be performing the surgeries. Rescuers from each group, as well as volunteers, will be out in the field throughout Sussex County, working to trap feral cats. Any cats that are trapped will then be taken for spaying or neutering and released in the same place the next day.
One notable aspect of the TNR practice is the ear tip. Feral cats that have been sterilized and given their rabies vaccination usually have one ear tipped to indicate their status. The procedure is done while they are sedated and heals quickly. To see a cat with a tipped ear, means someone has been working in the community to help the feral cat population.
For more information, go to www.partnersforpawsde.com.