(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) January 11, 2016—The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has updated its policy on free-roaming abandoned and feral cats to encourage collaboration among veterinarians, humane groups and wildlife conservation entities in efforts to reduce these cat populations in a humane and ethical manner.
While emphasizing that there is no “single solution” to reduce the population of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats, the policy states that approaches should give consideration “to the welfare of the cats and wildlife themselves, the ecosystem in which the intervention will be conducted, the expertise and abilities of those implementing the intervention, societal and cultural attitudes, and public health.”
The updated policy, approved by the AVMA House of Delegates on January 9 at its regular winter session, was the result of more than two years of discussion and review among a broad range of stakeholders, including the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee, Committee on Environmental Issues, and Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, as well as others having feline, avian and wildlife interests and expertise.
“The updated policy reflects extensive review and compromise among major stakeholders and was revised to reflect new information, help build consensus, and provide leadership per the management of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats,” said Dr. Joseph Kinnarney, president of the AVMA.
Dr. Kinnarney explained the policy was the result of “great efforts” to represent the diverse viewpoints related to the issue of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats, while maintaining scientific credibility and a policy that provides valuable and practical information for AVMA members and the public.
“The revised policy represents iterative progress toward resolving the free-roaming abandoned and feral cat problem, while recognizing that there is currently not consensus around what an ultimate solution will look like,” Dr. Kinnarney said. “It also points to the veterinary profession as a key player in developing approaches that are both science-based and socially responsible.”
Thanks to your support, we’ve been very busy this month protecting cats around the country. Here are just a few of our current projects and success stories:
Cat Cruelty Goes Viral Online and Nowhere in the Courts
|The story of a Texas veterinarian depicted in a Facebook photo with a cat she claimed to have killed with a bow and arrow caused outrage. Calls for justice were heard across the US and beyond. However, the grim reality is that when it comes to enforcing animal cruelty laws, there is a shockingly low level of enforcement. Allowing animal cruelty to go unprosecuted is detrimental to society. Check out Becky Robinson’s Huffington Post blog to read more about the gap between Americans’ humane values and the lack of prosecution for crimes against animals.|
Gainesville Reaches Milestone with TNR Workshop and Spay Day
|We have been working hard in Gainesville, Texas to implement and jumpstart humane, effective programs for cats supported by our grant funding. We’d like to share a new video which details how we’re partnering with local groups and Gainesville officials through a TNR workshop and a free Spay Day and vaccination clinic sponsored by Alley Cat Allies. After just a few months collaborating with Alley Cat Allies, Gainesville has officially adopted a TNR ordinance and is beginning to practice TNR. See how we’re following through on our promise to Gainesville’s cats.|
Virginia Attorney General: Yes, TNR is Legal
|Rest easy, Virginia—TNR is legal. The Virginia Office of the Attorney General clarified their 2013 opinion on TNR, emphasizing that private organizations are allowed to practice TNR under state law. The letter also retracts a November 2013 letter by the Opinions Counsel that falsely claimed private organizations couldn’t do TNR. That misinterpretation has been dismissed. Learn more about this important clarification for cats and their caregivers in Virginia, and keep the letter handy.|
Alley Cat Allies Joins Loudoun Community Cat Coalition, Saves Over 100 Cats
|As members of the Loudoun Community Cat Coalition, we were thrilled to assist with the coalition’s TNR clinic on May 17. Over 100 cats were neutered and vaccinated at the Leesburg Veterinary Hospital. We are proud to be on the committee with other outstanding groups, including Loudoun County Animal Services, Loudoun County Animal Control, Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, Towne Animal Clinic, the Humane Society of Loudoun County, Friends of Loudoun County Animal Shelter, Leesburg Veterinary Hospital, and CHASE. Thanks to all the volunteers, veterinary staff, advocates, and supporters who came out to help the cats! Check out the great photos of the event, and learn more about our partnership with this new coalition to save cats in Loudoun County.|
Adoptable Cat: Meet Tony
|Look at those cute floppy ears! Tony is a 10 year old tabby we found during a Trap-Neuter-Return event. At the time, he didn’t seem to feel too well. Turns out he is FIV+ and diabetic, so he needs extra care and love from a truly special person. Tony is doing great now and is ready for his forever home. He is sweet as pie, and your heart will melt when he looks at you with his big green eyes. And he never gets tired of head scratches. Be a hero for Tony—bring him home today!|
The Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats are Ready for Summer and Need You!
|Due to the hard work of our devoted volunteers, our Boardwalk Spring Cleaning went off without a hitch! Eighteen volunteers brought their high spirits and energy to tidy up the boardwalk, repair feeding stations, and refurbish the cat shelters. But caring for the Boardwalk Cats doesn’t end with spring cleaning—we need volunteers to help out all year. If you live in the Atlantic City area, sign up to volunteer today! You don’t need experience—you just need a love for cats and a desire to help. The Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project is a model program for the nation and shows that Trap-Neuter-Return works. Thanks so much to the volunteers and staff for providing this important service to the community and the cats!|
Four Cities in Two Weeks? We got this. This month we have Trap-Neuter-Return workshops scheduled in Oxon Hill, Maryland; Sedalia, Missouri; Houston, Texas; and Brenham, Texas. If you’re in any of these areas, RSVP and find out how you can protect cats in your community!
Boost Your Advocacy with a Kitten Care Kit! Young kittens require specialized care, but a Kitten Care Kit has all the tools you need. Check out how to make your own Kitten Care Kit, and share your knowledge with your friends and veterinarian!
BETHESDA, MD—Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s largest advocacy group for cats, today reminds those who care for outdoor cats in their communities that a few simple steps can go a long way in keeping feral cats comfortable in freezing temperatures.
“Feral cats are hardy animals, well-adjusted to outdoor life, but as temperatures plummet, a few extra steps can ensure they stay warm and safe even in below-freezing temperatures,” says Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies.
To help the feral and stray cats in your community hunker down in the extreme cold, Alley Cat Allies suggests the following simple steps:
Provide an outdoor shelter and a refuge from cold and wind.
Shelters are easy and inexpensive to build. You can use the plans available at www.alleycat.org/WinterWeather—including a “5-minute shelter” made from a Styrofoam cooler. Some manufacturers sell pre-built cat shelters, but even a large plastic storage tub will work with simple modifications.
The shelter should be elevated off the ground and placed in a quiet area. The size of the shelter should depend on the number of cats in the colony. A good-sized shelter offers a space just big enough for three to five cats to huddle—but space should be limited if there is only one cat who needs shelter. The door should be no more than 6 to 8 inches wide to keep out bigger predators. A flap on the door will keep out snow, rain and wind.
Insulate the shelter against moisture as well as cold.
Straw (not hay—they are different!) resists the wet and keeps a shelter warm, and it is the best choice for insulation and bedding. Avoid blankets—they absorb moisture like a sponge.
If you have a shed or garage, allow cats to have access during winter and severe weather. But remove dangerous antifreeze products, which are lethal when consumed.
Provide fresh water daily and additional food.
In extremely cold weather, cats require larger food portions and fresh water twice a day to prevent dehydration. Wet food in insulated containers is ideal for wintertime, but extra dry food (which will not freeze) is also fine. Foam insulation can be applied to the hollow underside of a regular plastic feeding dish to slow the freezing of food and water.
Prevent dehydration by keeping water drinkable:
- Use bowls that are deep rather than wide, and place them in a sunny spot.
- And a pinch of sugar to the water; this keeps it from freezing as quickly and provides an energy boost for the cats!
- Purchase heated electric bowls (found in many pet shops).
Cats will find shelter, whether you build it for them or they find their own. But in heavy snowfall, it is important to clear snow away from entrances/exits of shelters so the cats don’t get “snowed in.”
Avoid salt and other melting products.
Alley Cat Allies does not recommend using salts or chemicals designed to melt snow near colonies. These products can be toxic and injure cats’ paws. There are specific “pet-safe” sidewalk melting salts available made of magnesium chloride, but it is still possible for cats to drink water out of melting puddles containing chemicals. We advise caregivers to be cautious if using these products.
Check your car before you drive.
Check under the car before starting it, as cats will sometimes crawl into the engine or hide underneath for warmth. Give the hood of your car a few taps, to scare out any cats who may be underneath and who you didn’t see. Remember that antifreeze is lethal to cats and other animals. Keep it out of reach!
More information about winter safety for outdoor cats can be found at www.alleycat.org/WinterWeather.
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About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has more than half a million supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities and organizations save and improve the lives of cats and kittens nationwide. Its website is www.alleycat.org.
This National Feral Cat Day®, we’re on a mission to help animal shelters advance their policies and programs to save more cats. To accomplish this goal, we’ve ramped up our National Feral Cat Day® Challenge Awards Program and are specifically targeting shelters for the NFCD Challenge 2013.
In previous years, we’ve offered nonprofit organizations awards of $500 and $1,000, but this year, we will award five shelters with $5,000 each! We’ve increased the award money because we want to help shelters implement sustainable initiatives that will save cats’ lives now—and well into the future. To help them adopt lifesaving policies, we’re also offering support and guidance from Alley Cat Allies.
To qualify for this year’s NFCD Challenge Awards Program, shelters must commit to an official Feral Cat Protection Policy, which means that they stop impounding feral cats, and support Trap-Neuter-Return.
Find out more at http://nationalferalcatday.org/awards/. And ask your local shelter to apply for a National Feral Cat Day® Challenge Award! Applications are due on Friday, Sept. 20.
Alley Cat Allies
P.S. Don’t forget to register your National Feral Cat Day® 2013 event on our interactive event listing. Register today!
Thanks to the support of loyal donors like you, we’ve been very busy this month protecting cats around the country. Here are just a few of our current projects and successes:
Veterinarians Think TNR is the Cat’s Meow
Ohio Kitten Shooting Sparks Outcry—and Change
Tangier Island: Where TNR Comes with a Free Golf Cart Ride
Adoptable Cats: Meet Jasper, Jace, and Arrow!
The Search is ON! We’re Recruiting for an Executive Director
National coalition of animal health and welfare organizations responds to recent article highlighting cats’ predatory prowess
(ANNAPOLIS, Maryland) February 1, 2013—A recent study and corresponding media reports have cast a negative light on cats by suggesting that they may be responsible for killing perhaps billions of birds and mammals. Dr. Brunt, executive director of the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, and a feline practitioner in Maryland today expressed concerns that the study and corresponding articles may hamper the ability of shelters to place cats in adoptive homes.
“We regret the fact that the articles written about the study have maligned cats as a whole, when in fact, the vast majority of the estimated destruction to wildlife was reportedly by feral or stray cats,” she said. “This works to discourage prospective cat owners from adopting one of the hundreds of thousands of healthy, enjoyable cats that are held in shelters across this nation.”
In response to these disparaging articles the CATalyst Council offers the following observations:
1. Responsible cat ownership is best supported by keeping your cat indoors. This is not only for the protection of wild birds and mammals, but also for your cat’s own good. Cars, dogs and people pose a threat to your cat while it roams, as do parasites, fleas and ticks, and chemicals. Part of being a responsible cat owner is keeping your cat safe from harm.
2. Support your local Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program and the development of other non-surgical ways to sterilize large numbers of animals. Unfortunately, articles written about the study are unclear about the study’s report that feral cats and not pets were responsible for the majority of the estimated deaths. Whether you’re a pet owner or an animal lover, by ensuring feral sterilization programs have the needed local funding, you will be helping to reduce the number of future feral cats in your community.
3. Remember that some of the killed mammals cited in the study are pests, including mice and rats, which reproduce quickly and pose a public health concern when their numbers are allowed to grow unchecked. By helping to reduce the number of rodents, the cats are performing a valuable service.
“I think this study presents an opportunity for discussion about what responsible cat ownership entails and what people can do to help all the animals in their community, including feral cats,” Dr. Brunt continued. “But what we don’t want to see is inflammatory media coverage that discourages cat ownership and portrays cats in a negative light. Because of the millions of cats sent to shelters each year, CATalyst Council has worked hard to enhance community relationships between shelters and veterinarians to solve problems in individual communities, and cat population is a significant one. Commentary in response to the report does nothing to help our shelter population or the people who work so hard to place these wonderful pets in forever homes.”
The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s favorite pet. It was founded in response to troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.
(Jan. 30, 2013)—Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement in response to the study published in Nature Communications by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on cat predation:
“The HSUS values both cats and wildlife. There is a legitimate issue with free-roaming cats preying on birds and other wildlife, and we are working to change that in a meaningful way. Despite the scientific rigor with which this report was prepared, like others recently published, it tries to attach a number to something that is almost impossible to credibly quantify. While further data collection and analysis is important, the larger issue here is finding practicable and humane actions to mitigate the impact of cats in our communities. Cats are an important part of our lives, and whether owned or free-roaming, are loved and cared for by millions of Americans who celebrate the human-animal bond. The best way we as a society can reduce impacts on wildlife from cats is to spay and neuter our pets and keep them indoors.
“For free-roaming and feral cats, there are thousands of organizations and individuals who manage cat colonies through trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs in the United States and Canada, and they constitute a large and indispensable volunteer labor force working to reduce the numbers of cats outdoors. By using TNR responsibly and finding homes for kittens and adoptable cats, this strategy can help reduce reproduction while improving the lives of existing ferals. The outdated strategy of trapping and killing feral cats is generally ineffective, since it doesn’t address the sources of the problem. Moreover, if that were the only alternative, we’d lose overnight the enormous investments in cat management made by TNR practitioners and cat lovers, since they would never participate in a round-up and kill approach.
“The presence of free-roaming, abandoned and outdoor cat populations in and around human communities and in other settings has proven divisive within the humane, conservation and scientific communities. As advocates for both cats and wildlife, with large program departments on wildlife and companion animals and a history of examining this issue, we believe that we can find solutions to these problems through engagement and innovation. That’s why The Humane Society of the United States convened a conference in Los Angeles last month—‘The Outdoor Cat: Science and Policy from a Global Perspective’—designed to take the measure of contemporary research and science concerning outdoor cats, and to advance the integration of such evidence into better policy that protects cats, birds and other wildlife.”
“While this issue will not be solved overnight, progress is being made across the country, with bright spots being seen in many areas. This issue holds great promise for a new frontier in protecting both cats and wildlife that can bring together diverse interests, identify common goals and acceptable options and begin to build a community of trust and respect across the traditional lines of conflict. Pet owners should remember that spaying and neutering cats and keeping them indoors not only saves cats’ lives but also protects wildlife.”
Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our "HumaneTV" app.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We're there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- on the Web at humanesociety.org.
Calls for constructive city policies that support community mediation and humane care for cats
BETHESDA, MD – Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, today condemned the unnecessary and divisive actions of Pompano Beach Animal Control for issuing a citation to a 72-year-old woman for feeding feral cats.
Although the longtime caregiver demonstrated good intentions by obtaining permission from the property owner to feed the spayed and neutered cats, animal control cited her for violating an obscure city policy that makes feeding feral cats illegal.
“Issuing citations doesn’t solve anything—the cats will still make their home there. Policies like the one in Pompano Beach only punish Good Samaritans and pit neighbors against each other, instead of working towards a lasting approach,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies.
Robinson noted that Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane and effective approach to feral cats in any community, because feral cats are not socialized to people, cannot be adopted into homes, and are almost always killed in animal pounds or shelters.
“Key elements in any successful program are community relations—which includes techniques like mediation—as well as spay/neuter,” said Robinson.
In condemning animal control’s actions, Alley Cat Allies is calling on the city to adopt a more constructive policy that encourages community relations over punitive measures like fines and citations.
“Communities all over the country are recognizing the inadequacy of outdated policies such as these, which benefit neither the cats, nor the community. If the law in Pompano Beach encourages animal control to punish citizens over fostering understanding and education, it is simply a bad policy,” said Robinson.
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About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has more than half a million supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives cats and kittens nationwide. Their website is www.alleycat.org.
SMITHTOWN, NEW YORK – (December 10, 2012) – There are animals in need in just about every city in America. From the feral cats near the city center, to the displaced animals from natural disasters and fires, the need is there. While we may not all see it all the time, there are some people who not only see it, but they make it their mission to try and do something about it. That’s exactly what the organization Guardians of Rescue do on a routine basis.
“It’s easy to overlook the many animals in distress, or to turn away from it,” explains Robert Misseri, president of Guardians of Rescue, an organization dedicated to helping animals in need. “We don’t do that. We work hard, with the support of those in the public, to help these animals in need, and we feel great doing it.”
Guardians of Rescue provides a wide range of help and support to the animals in need throughout the New York City area. Here are 10 things they do to support animals in need:
1. Feed animals that need food, including feral cats.
2. Rescue distressed animals, including the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
3. Provide whatever it is that the animals may need, including medical care.
4. Help families who have economic trouble to continue caring for their pets.
5. Support other rescue missions in their efforts to help distressed animals.
6. Raise awareness about the issues that impact distressed animals and how people can help them.
7. Help military families care for their pets during active duty.
8. Fight animal cruelty and help bring an end to animal suffering.
9. Educate the youth in the area, so that the cycle of animal abuse can be broken.
10. Work to get others involved, because many people want to help, but just don’t know how to do so.
“We do a lot to help animals, but we wouldn’t have it any other way,” added Misseri. “We also couldn’t do it without the support of those in the community. They provide us with the monetary support and supplies that we need in order to do what we do. It’s a team effort between us and the community.”
Recently, team members from Guardians of Rescue have helped over 150 animals that were victims of Hurricane Sandy, including driving 45 minutes to rescue a kitten that had become stranded and injured. They not only rescued the kitten, but they also got it the medical care it needed. They are still working to help animals that were impacted by the storm, as they continue to find more displaced animals, and help to provide pet food.
Learn more, or to make a donation to support the Guardians of Rescue, log onto www.guardiansofrescue.org.
About Guardians of Rescue
Based in New York, Guardians of Rescue is an organization whose mission is to protect the well being of all animals. They provide aid to animals in distress, including facilitating foster programs, rehabilitation, assisting other rescue groups, and providing support to families, both military and not, who need assistance due to economic factors. To learn more about Guardians of Rescue, visit the site at www.guardiansofrescue.org.
Experience life as a cat in the new adventure novel, “Taming Me”
Naples, Florida – October 2012 – Collage Books announces its newest title, “Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat,” written by Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Cathy Unruh, and narrated by her formerly feral cat, Lucy Miracle. The novel offers an intimate look at the thoughts and emotions of a cat as she struggles to survive in the wild and learns the intricacies of human interaction. “Unruh brilliantly captures the inner world of a cat,” says Jonathan Balcombe, animal behavior scientist and author of “Second Nature.”
“Taming Me” is endorsed by numerous animal advocates, including executives at Alley Cat Allies, the Humane Society of the United States, New York City’s Neighborhood Cats, Farm Sanctuary and Florida Voices for Animals. Celebrities and popular authors, such as actress Loretta Swit, Rory Freedman (“Skinny Bitch”), Carolyn Haines (Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series) and Margo Hammond (“Between the Covers”), praise the book. “You’ll cry, you’ll laugh and you will love Lucy,” says Darlene Arden, author, speaker and journalist. “I could not put the book down,” adds Caren Gittleman, of Cat Chat.
“Taming Me” follows a perceptive and adorable kitten that understands humans, from a humble and hungry beginning in the wild, to the luxurious lifestyle of a housecat, as she cautiously opens her heart to the humans who wish to love her. A cat-hating villain provides intrigue and comic relief. This rags-to-riches adventure is suspenseful, sad, joyful and tender. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are 50 million feral or free-roaming cats nationwide. Trap-Neuter-Return, a method for humanely controlling this cat population, is one element of the novel’s page-turning plot.
Author Cathy Unruh hosts a talk show for WEDU-TV and is a frequent speaker and emcee in Tampa, Florida. She is also an award-winning member of the Cat Writers’ Association. She grew up on a hobby farm and is passionate about animal welfare. This novel champions her views about the humane treatment of animals.
“Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat” will be available in trade paperback and e-book formats at booksellers and retailers nationwide. For more information and upcoming event dates, visit cathyunruh.com or Facebook.com/Taming Me Memoir of a Clever Island Cat.
Availability: Cathy Unruh and Lucy Miracle are available for appearances and interviews by arrangement and via telephone or Skype.