A Community Cat Meetup Group Can Be the Cat’s Meow

A new Manhattan community cat Meetup group is giving NYC cat lovers the opportunity to socialize with like-minded individuals around feral and stray cats, TNR, and other cat interests. (Photo by Megan Wisdom)

A new Manhattan community cat Meetup group is giving NYC cat lovers the opportunity to socialize with like-minded individuals around feral and stray cats, TNR, and other cat interests. (Photo by Megan Wisdom)

The NYC Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI), a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, has a confidential database of Certified Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Caretakers who are located throughout the city. When a Certified TNR Caretaker has a need, such as for a larger post-surgical holding space or extra traps, they can reach out to the NYCFCI. In turn, the NYCFCI will reach out to Certified TNR Caretakers in the database who may be able to help, and, with the permission of those caretakers, share their information with the caretaker in need. Everyone who completes the NYCFCI’s TNR certification workshop and the post-workshop TNR Networking Survey can participate, as they so choose, in this sharing of information and resources.

According to Kathleen O’Malley, Director of TNR Education for the NYCFCI, the survey has proven to be a successful way for Certified TNR Caretakers to help one another and also to feel connected to like-minded individuals. But, she acknowledges, for some caretakers, there is the need to actually get together “with the relatively few humans in your area who have the same interests.” For those individuals, she suggests they consider either joining or starting a community cat Meetup group. “This can be a great way to find a core group of people interested in the same things you are,” she says, adding that the actual Meetups can be about cats or about anything else the group decides. “A Meetup group is designed to be pressure-free and social,” she says.

In response to this perceived need, last year, Mike Phillips and Megan Wisdom, both of the NYCFCI, started the Manhattan Feral Cat TNR, Caretakers and Rescue Groups Meetup. To launch the group, which is not directly affiliated with the NYCFCI and which, as its name implies, is open to people who may not be Certified TNR Caretakers, Megan, who administers the group, spread the word among local rescue groups. The group’s first get-together was announced in the NYCFCI’s TNR Caretaker Update newsletter.

“Megan stepped up to investigate what it took to get a community cat Meetup group up and running so cat people could connect socially,” explains Mike. “She agreed to be the necessary administrator and found events of interest to cat people, like Kedi, the Istanbul cat movie, and places to meet up for a drink and conversation. She also generously donated the $90 hosting fee for the first year.”

“The Meetup is not about recruiting for help,” Megan stresses. “It is about getting together socially.” The group, which currently has 73 members from various boroughs, has met five times, and has gone to restaurants, bars, and movies together. During these evenings, discussions often turned to cats, which was, after all, what brought everyone together in the first place. Megan hopes that some members might have even been encouraged to take the NYCFCI’s TNR certification workshop after meeting and speaking with some of the Meetup’s Certified TNR Caretakers.

Clearly, being part of a cat Meetup can have numerous benefits, not the least of which is, according to Megan, “If you show up with cat hair on your butt no one is going to make fun of you.”

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