Alley Cat Allies, The Force We Need
I’ve been an animal lover for as long as I can remember. Feeding community cats and helping stray dogs I see on the streets. It’s always been in my heart to save animals in need. In fact, it’s often difficult to explain to people. I’ll cry if an animal suffers in a movie or show. Similarly, my mind also ponders and my heart is saddened to think about the neglect and cruelty that happens to any animal. Yes, I am vegan. Now. There was a time I wasn’t though. I ate animal products, would wear them, I even remember hunting. Once but I did it. At that moment my mind was transformed permanently. Frankly, the sum of everything did on its own terms. I knew back then and know more than ever now, spreading harm to any animal is just not for me. No matter what the case or level.
The past several years I’ve changed. I have dedicated time to volunteering at local shelters and transitioned my entire lifestyle. From spreading the word about adoptable pets to hosting local dog yoga and thrift events, all in order to raise money and awareness for animals in need. Our smallest and largest efforts make a difference for these animals but the fight is not over. An estimated 70% of all cats who enter shelters nationwide don’t leave the shelter alive. For feral cats who are not socialized, well, that number is often 100%. This is an alarming statistic. Let’s face it, community cats are everywhere, they are multiplying and Alley Cat Allies is the driving force making an impact on feral cats.
Alley Cat Allies Taking Action
The first U.S. nonprofit to have guidelines for TNR and earning the 2018 Platinum Seal of Transparency on GuideStar, Alley Cat Allies delivers everything you need to know about feral cat care. What do they do? Alley Cat Allies works in communities to urge low-cost spay and neuter policies and programs, as well as lifesaving Trap-Neuter-Return. Before it became mainstream to keep cats indoors (with help of the little invention called kitty litter in 1947) cats lived outdoors. Actually for thousands of years. Now, I’m not saying kick your cat out or never bring it inside again, no. What history tells us is that it’s natural for cats to thrive outdoors. From ancient Egypt where cats were worshiped to cats boarding ships to the Americas. Seeing feral felines in your community is actually a normal thing.
What’s not healthy is for years animal control policy has put millions of dollars into catching and killing outdoor cats. Furthermore, the highest documented cause of death for cats in the United States is being killed in shelters. For the thousands of cats that go into the shelters a very small percentage are actually adopted out. Research also shows that 7 out of 10 cats who enter the system are killed. This means what we are currently doing in regards to animal control is not working, ethical or sustainable.
How Trap-Neuter-Return Works
When mountain lions are removed from their habitat, other mountain lions move in.
This then creates what’s called the vacuum effect. In other words, American shelters and animal control systems have been relying on catching and killing outdoor cats to control population for years now. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a program where community cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped (a universal sign that a feral cat has been neutered and vaccinated) and in conclusion, returned to the outdoors.
TNR reduces and stabilizes the feral cat population while improving the co-existence between outdoor cats and humans in our shared environment. Set side by side, for me, it makes sense to control the current population versus continuing our present policies. There are thousands of cats around us, I mean go outside, I’m sure you will spot one. So caring for felines that are here now, meaning implementing a TNR program also means feral cats are healthy and have a lower chance of overpopulating a community.
Not to mention, once cats are spayed or neutered it has been shown that they are less aggressive, roaming minimizes and they won’t have the urge to mark areas. Not everything will be perfect, and developing a program will not fix all our problems but it will help. It’s a positive step though and also a better solution than euthanizing cats just because we don’t have a better way.
What Can We Do?
So, what can we do? Well… educate yourself, that’s the first thing. Once you do that you have the power to spread that light to others. For instance, read about the history and behavior of community cats. Additionally, Alley Cat Allies resources are endless. I’ve been reading through their tabs, from community change to disaster response they provide links and news to help you understand and care for felines.
Another way is to familiarize yourself with local laws and create a movement. Reaching out to elected officials for face-to-face meetings, speak at a public hearing or create a community organization. Decide to grow the movement. In my case, I know that I will push forward and be the voice. We need a better way. If we do the same things, we will get the same results. It’s time to shift our views on feral felines and see what we can do as a community to share the world with the beautiful creatures around us.
To see other charities and nonprofits fellow Ethical Writers & Creatives support, catch the links below:
Model4greenliving, The Best Environmental Charities To Give To Now
Honestly Modern, Conscious Living Beyond Personal Consumption Habits
To learn more about Alley Cat Allies and how to alter views as well as promote policy change click here.