Wherever I go, there seem to be cats living outside. When I was a kid we called them “strays” and didn’t think much about them. They were mostly an annoyance, giving fleas to our house cats.
By the time Shira and I were living in Brooklyn on the ground floor, we were both vegan and far more educated. But we watched free-living cats come and go with a kind of happy, ignorant confusion. It took a few years in a couple of apartments in different neighborhoods for us to realize that the cats we fell in love with one summer would rarely return the next spring. And even on the nicest days, the healthiest, strongest ferals were at constant risk of being run over by trucks and cars, attacked by security dogs, or hurt by another feral or by a human.
I felt obligated to do something for these neighbors who lacked a voice of their own, so I started putting up spay/neuter posters, bringing injured cats and adoptable kittens to shelters, and putting out water and food. We eventually adopted three ferals.
When we moved a few years ago, we again started seeing cats outside. They come and go, sometimes disappearing for a while and sometimes disappearing forever. I do TNR and kitten rescue when I can. We also provide insulated winter shelters and bedding, and daily food and water.
Here are some of the wonderful cats I’ve met. Sorry they’re all so freaked-out looking – I’ll try to post some candids of them outside, so it’s not all TNR shots!
Want to help cats in your area? Look up your local SPCA (ours is SPCA of Tompkins County) or feral cat rescue/TNR group, or educate yourself about feral cat needs and go DIY in your own backyard! Even just putting out a dish of water in the summer can save lives.