|"The Simpson's" Eleanor Abernathy, aka crazy cat lady|
That lady you see feeding cats in a neighborhood near you might not be a sister to the stereotypical images depicted here.
She might be a tireless volunteer working toward a solution to social and humane phenomenon that has existed for years -- one that most people either don't know about, or simply choose to ignore.
That issue is feral cats and the solution is a system of humane population control known as TNR -- trap, neuter, return.
|Crazy cat lady action figure set by Accoutrements|
The grassroots force behind the TNR initiative is Alley Cat Allies. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., the nonprofit organization offers guidance and networking to anyone who wants to help local feral cats by providing a human alternative to starvation or trap-and-kill.
Yet, the humane solution is not always the easiest solution. An effective TNR program requires work -- undervalued, care-focused work, often done by women.
To get an idea of what a feral cat caregiver does on a daily basis, here's an excerpt from "The Cat Angel," by Julie Flanders of Best Friends Animal Society:
"Gerry doesn’t take the responsibility of caring for her cats lightly, so she makes sure she is up by 7 a.m. every morning to start her runs. She loads up her car with 16 pound bags of dry cat food, cases of wet cat food, and gallons of fresh water, and sets out on her way. Among the friends she visits are Scooter, Scout, and Arthur. Arthur lives alone, and waits each day for Gerry to arrive at his home behind an empty business.
"If the weather is particularly nasty, Gerry can be found shoveling snow so the cats can have a clear path to their food, and she will often visit sites twice a day in the winter to make sure the cats' water hasn't all turned to ice. All of this is in addition to the part-time job she has worked since retiring."
Edith Huber is another woman working on behalf of feral cats.
Huber founded Pawsabilities, Inc. seven years ago. She says the South Lyon, Mich.-based organization sterilized over 260 cats this year and has TNR projects scheduled through October.
Huber and her volunteers continue to advocate for feral cats not only by providing assistance with sterilization services and feeding, but also meeting with local city and county government and animal control officials, and even researching legal issues as they pertain to feral cat issues.
Though it's not always easy, Huber remains upbeat.
"Every day, I am amazed as doors continue to open in favor of our mission in helping the community cats and the human community," she says.
Both of these women have lives that include jobs, family and friends and prove there's nothing "crazy" about caring for our fellow earthlings.
To feral cats and their caregivers everywhere -- Happy National Feral Cat Day!