Most cat holidays are fun ways to celebrate and worship felinekind. But Global Cat Day is different. On Global Cat Day, we focus on bringing compassion and aid to cats, especially community cats, and cats who live outdoors.
October 16 used to be National Feral Cat Day, which Alley Cat Allies set aside to bring awareness and help to feral cats in the U.S. But the movement grew since it began in 2001 to include efforts in 40 other countries to advocate for these kitties. So Alley Cat Allies have been taking their efforts to protect and speak out for cats worldwide, and they decided that a new name for the day was in order.
What do you need to know Global Cat Day, helping cats, and what you can do? Here are the takeaways:
- T-N-R — Trap, Neuter, Return — is all important. It’s the best way to control the population of cats that live outdoors. Anything you can do to help with TNR in your community will do good, whether it’s donating to a local group that does TNR, participating in TNR efforts yourself, or helping protect community cats legally.
- Spaying and neutering owned cats will help too! Most of these outdoor cats came into existence because sometime, somewhere, somebody did not spay or neuter their pet. Perhaps the pregnant cat was abandoned in the wild, or maybe the hormone-infused boy wandered around, impregnating any willing female cat he could find. In any case, nearly every colony of cats could have been prevented if owned cats had been fixed. So education is necessary. Altering a cat is not cruel, and female cats do not need to have even one litter (in fact, they are less likely to develop breast cancer later in life if spayed before going into heat). Cat have happier, healthier lives without hormones dictating their actions. So if you can convince even one person to have their cat fixed, you are already one step ahead when it comes to controlling the outdoor cat population.
- Managed cat colonies are the best way to keep outdoor cats controlled. When a group of people take charge of a cat colony, TNR’ing them, feeding them, creating shelter, and keeping track of any cats who become ill, everyone benefits. The cats do, of course, but also the community, because when a colony is managed, the cats are healthier and they are don’t create a nuisance. If you want to see a model managed cat colony, read about the Boardwalk Cats Project in Atlantic City, NJ.
- Without human intervention, outdoor cats are cruelly victimized. While it is illegal to kill cats in all 50 U.S. states, in many states, it only applies to owned cats. That means, technically, outdoor cats could be hunted down and killed! Plus, when outdoor cats are brought into the animal control system, they are often destroyed. Some communities have barncat programs, but it’s not enough. It’s important to change and improve upon these policies where they exist and make sure all cats are protected.
- Advocating for community and outdoor cats begins at home… with your legislators. When it comes to protecting and caring for outdoor and community cats, most people think about caring for the cats themselves. But it is just as important to make sure there are laws in place to protect the cats and their caretakers. The cats need you (yes, you!) to talk to the leaders in your community about TNR and managed colonies. There are already groups that are all too ready to bring up statistics that are falsely skewed, claiming that outdoor cats are destructive and should be eliminated. Cat lovers must be willing to speak out and tell the truth about cats. The cats can’t go to government officials themselves, or write letters, or educate local businesses about how co-existing with outdoor cats can be done successfully. Only humans can do that.
For more information on how to help, visit the Global Cat Day website, or go to Alley Cat Allies directly to learn what you can do to help outdoor cats — both in your neighborhood, and throughout the world.