To feel compassion is to feel that we are in some sort and to some extent responsible for the pain that is being inflicted, that we ought to do something about it.
When we find a stressed out mother cat nursing her tiny new babies in a cardboard box next to a trash dumpster, it is this ethic of compassion that drives us to take action. When a skinny and flea-infested stray cat approaches us in an alley way and nuzzles our leg for attention, it is compassion that allows us to recognize his suffering and compels us to offer help.
One of our goals for 2016 is to spread compassion through our work and to change the negative attitudes some have for stray, feral, and community cats. One of the primary tools for doing this will be our new book, Alley Cat Rescue’s Guide to ManagingCommunity Cats. Our book not only provides step-by-step instructions for how to manage a colony of cats with trap-neuter-return (TNR), but also provides a broader picture of who cats are. There are chapters on the origins of domestic felines; how they evolved; how they behave and survive outdoors; and indoor versus outdoor cats and the unique needs of each.
In particular, we’ll be targeting our message to policymakers, and our Guide will be especially useful here as well. With science-based information about cats and predation, zoonotic diseases, reproduction, and social behavior, the book offers vital information officials need to back up their support of TNR programs and humane, non-lethal care for feral cats. We want as many sets of eyes as possible to see our book and read our message of compassion for cats, and that’s where you can help.
If you have a town council or mayor who’s reluctant to help cats, send them a copy of our Guide. If officials are proposing feeding bans or outdated catch-and-kill schemes in your area, buy them a copy and bookmark the chapter, “The Effectiveness of TNR Programs: Why Eradication Does Not Work.” Do you work or volunteer at a shelter with a high-kill rate? Bring a few copies in to share, or leave one in the breakroom open to page 32, which discusses how targeted TNR programs can greatly reduce shelter euthanasia and intake rates.
To reach a broad public audience, you can donate a copy to your local library, or drop a few copies into your neighborhood’s sharing library. And never forget close friends and family; even if they are not “cat people” we believe that reading our book will guide them to a new level of appreciation and respect for the fascinating felines that live among us.
Each day, the ethic of compassion is what drives us to “do something” for neglected, abused, abandoned, dumped, and suffering cats, especially feral cats who have been labeled as pests and vilified just for existing. We hope you’ll join us this year in educating your community about feral cats and spreading compassion for all the living creatures in our midst.