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Nancy Fahnestock of CSM Stray Foundation demonstrates how to use a drop trap at the first Feral Cat Caretaker Boot Camp! (Photo by Rick Edwards)

Nancy Fahnestock of CSM Stray Foundation demonstrates how to use a drop trap at the first Feral Cat Caretaker Boot Camp!

Photo by Rick Edwards

NYC Eartips: Winter 2009

First-Ever Feral Cat Caretaker Boot Camp! Draws Enthusiastic Audience

by Valerie Sicignano, NYC Feral Cat Initiative

The NYC Feral Cat Initiative presented its first-ever Feral Cat Caretaker Boot Camp! on December 7, 2008, at Animal Haven SoHo. Participants were treated to a full day of informative presentations by experts, interactive workshops, and take-home materials to assist them in their work with stray and outdoor cats in their neighborhoods. The conference was sponsored by the New York City Feral Cat Initiative, Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, PetSmart Charities, In Defense of Animals, and Animal Haven.

Sixty-five individuals from the New York area, including New York City, upstate NY, New Jersey, and Connecticut, attended the conference, plus representatives from as far away as Texas and Israel. Roughly half of those who attended were new to TNR. Of those with TNR experience who attended, half run local TNR groups and the remaining half are caretakers who have TNR'd their colonies.

All Boot Camp! participants received a tote bag containing a feral cat caretaker resource binder, brochures from Alley Cat Allies, the Feral Cat Resource DVD from The Humane Society of the United States, cat food samples from Nutro Greenies and Old Mother Hubbard, cat toys from Cosmic Pet products, and Feline Wellness magazine from Animal Wellness publications. There was a raffle of feral cat colony items, including winter shelters built by Ashot Karamian and FeralVilla, and feeding stations from Urban Cat League and Feral Villa. A vegan lunch from Whole Foods was provided, thanks to the generosity and support of PetSmart Charities.

View the complete Boot Camp! program, including the names of presenters and workshops at the conference.

About the Author

Valerie Sicignano is Director of Special Events & Training for the New York City Feral Cat Initiative and has been working with feral cats in New York City since 1990. She holds a Certificate in Humane Education from the ASPCA, and her work with animals has been recognized by the Manhattan Pet Gazette's "Animal Guardian Award" and In Defense of Animals' "Companion Animal Guardian Award."