Since its launch in 2006, the NYC Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI) has been billed as a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and Neighborhood Cats, and has been primarily funded by a grant from the Mayor’s Alliance to Neighborhood Cats to administer. This arrangement was established early in the Alliance’s 10-year strategic plan, at a time when the Alliance was focused primarily on its four core objectives: increasing adoptions, reducing animal homelessness, strengthening existing resources, and increasing awareness of shelters and rescue groups and the animals in their care.
In the years since the NYCFCI was founded, however, the Mayor’s Alliance has focused more of its resources on feral cat issues. As a result, we determined that starting in 2012 the administration of the NYCFCI and its resources would be more effective if handled internally by the Alliance rather than by giving a grant to another organization to administer.
Delivering Targeted Services Over the Years
The Mayor’s Alliance has provided many direct services to the feral cat community over the years, including transport of traps to and from the trap banks as well as transport of cats to and from vets’ offices and the ASPCA spay/neuter clinic for Certified TNR Caretakers. The Mayor’s Alliance maintains a trap bank in Brooklyn for the NYCFCI, coordinates giveaways of cat food and straw, and administers the Maddie’s® Spay/Neuter Project for Stray Community Cats in NYC.
The Mayor’s Alliance also has grown its education and outreach efforts by maintaining the information and resources on the NYCFCI website (NYCFeralCat.org) and 24-hour information phone line, as well as all NYCFCI communications, including our NYC Eartips e-newsletter. We’ve also branched out into rescue community education, hosting the Kitten Palooza! workshops (Socializing/Taming Feral Kittens and Bottle Baby Care) as well as Mayor’s Alliance monthly strength training sessions, which have been made available to all Certified TNR Caretakers.
Going forward, Certified TNR Caretakers in NYC will continue to have access to the same spay/neuter services of the ASPCA, access to the vets who participate in the Maddie’s® Spay/Neuter Project for Stray Community Cats in NYC, and other feral cat spay/neuter programs; transport provided by the Mayor’s Alliance; access to trap banks; training sessions for bottle-feeding and socialization; and food and straw giveaways. The Neighborhood Cats TNR Certification Workshops and the online HSUS TNR Certification Course will continue to be available to anyone wishing to become TNR-certified.
New in 2012
We’re delighted to welcome Mike Phillips, LVT, as our NYCFCI Community Outreach Coordinator. In this part-time position Mike will prepare presentations for the general public, trappers, and professional audiences and head up our community outreach efforts through tabling and the media. He also will respond to requests from New York City residents for information about taming feral kittens, trapping assistance, and feral-friendly spay/neuter resources.
Mike brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience, having been a volunteer with KittyKind and later, president of Neighborhood Cats. A desire to provide the cats with the best health care possible led him to pursue a degree in Veterinary Technology and become licensed in New York State. He has worked as the Veterinary Technician Supervisor at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City and worked in the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital’s ICU and on the ASPCA’s Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics. Mike co-founded Urban Cat League to teach techniques for taming feral kittens for adoption along with basic tips about feral colony care, such as winter shelter building. Mike’s “day job” that pays for all that kitty litter is working for New York City Opera in Lincoln Center, where he’s a resident stage director.
In her ongoing role as NYCFCI Community Outreach Director, Valerie Sicignano will continue to plan and coordinate workshops and professional training presentations on specialized feral cat topics, coordinate all aspects of TNR projects selected to receive NYCFCI assistance, and respond to caretaker requests for advice, assistance, and services.
You’ll notice a new look to our NYCFCI website — updated to feature bright new graphics and, as the year progresses, we’ll add more information and resources to our extensive online library. Be sure to check it out, let us know what you think, and share it with everyone you know who is interested in helping to improve the lives of New York City’s feral and stray community cats!