The video above explains what National Feral Cat Day is all about. Best Friends Animal Society is a major leader in addressing the needs of feral cats and other abandoned pets. Many rescue groups look to them for guidance in developing shelters and and other programs for abandoned pets.
I think promoting awareness about humane treatment of feral cats is extremely important. Feral cats are at great risk for being abused and otherwise harmed by society, because they are considered a nuisance. Colonies of feral cats also tend to be harmed by children who are not well cared for themselves. We need to look for systemic changes to address the needs of both.
I have twice been contacted in recent weeks about feral cat colonies that were being abused by children and adolescents. Both colonies were tended by caring people. Both colonies developed around low income housing areas where there were other community problems. Both areas had poorly supervised children with behavior problems, many of whom had likely experienced trauma from family and/or community violence. In both situations, the caring individuals who tended to the cats had witnessed youngsters killing – yes outright killing – the cats.
Both situations seemed hopeless, BUT THEY WERE NOT. The woman tending the cats in this story written awhile back has now started an initiative to get Humane Education built into the curriculum of the local school district. The superintendent is backing the initiative, and a group of animal and child advocates are working together to develop the curriculum.
In the second situation, the county Animal Control Officer is working with the woman tending the cats to identify the child who killed the cat. Once the child is identified, the officer is committed to finding appropriate interventions for the child to insure that his needs get attention.
In both situations, the women who bring care to the animals were emotionally stressed by the traumatic events that they witnessed. The fact that they care and put themselves through such stressful circumstances proves to me that they are not only heroes for the animals, but also for the children who have been so misguided.
It is important for such caregivers to attend to their own needs, as it can be emotionally overwhelming to witness some of the human pain that gets directed onto animals. Finding positive solutions to addressing systemic problems can help. Addressing your own needs is important too. This article gives a good resource for coping with compassion fatigue. I encourage you to read it and follow the provided resources.
The most important thing is to reach out to others. When it seems hopeless, sometimes another person can see the silver linings that are not apparent to you.
Are you considering getting involved in helping with feral cats? Check out the resource rich Best Friends Animal Society website and follow the Best Friends Blog for all kinds of great information. Alley Cat Allies is another great resource.
You CAN make a difference for feral cats, and also for the people who cohabit their communities.
Here’s a photo of my fabulous five felines who were all once semi-feral cats or offspring of feral cats. They are now the rulers of my home. I only wish I could teach them to make the bed… Sigh. I guess you have to choose your battles.
So what are you doing for feral cats or other abandoned pets? What are you doing to ensure our children learn to respect them and act in humane ways?