Architects for Animals Returns to NYC for Fourth Annual Winter Cat Shelter Exhibition


Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter - January 30, 2014Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter
Thursday, January 30, 2014
6:00–8:00 p.m.
Steelcase Showroom, 4 Columbus Circle, Manhattan

For the fourth consecutive year, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and Architects for Animals present Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter, a winter cat shelter exhibition and reception to benefit the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. This is an evening like no other in New York City, and one you won’t want to miss!

Some of New York’s most creative architectural designers have designed and built an array of imaginative winter shelters for New York City’s outdoor “community” cats to provide them with a refuge from the cold. This year we will present a new collection of unique, inspired Architects for Animals winter shelters for public viewing before they are donated to certified community cat caretakers and placed in locations throughout the city.

Architects for Animals founder Leslie Farrell, who works within the NYC architectural community, created the Giving Shelter event four years ago to raise awareness about the estimated half-million cats who live in backyards, vacant lots, alleys, and numerous other outdoor locations throughout the city. For these community cats, wintertime is especially difficult. Many of these cats are cared for by dedicated caretakers who feed them daily, monitor their health, and go to great lengths to have them spayed or neutered through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). TNR has proved to be the only truly humane and effective way to manage feral cat colonies and reduce their numbers over time.

This year’s participating architectural teams include Bailly & Bailly, Carlton Architecture, Francis Cauffman Architects, deSoto studio Architects, Incorporated Architecture & Design, Elham Valipay and Haleh Atabaki of Mish Mish, M Moser Associates, Two One Two Design, and Zimmerman Workshop Architecture + Design, to name a few.

Admission is a $25 donation ($10 for Certified TNR Caretakers) and includes the exhibit, hors d’oeuvres, and drinks. A raffle also will be featured this year. You may RSVP and purchase tickets in advance online through January 29, and a limited number of tickets also will be available at the door.

We are very thankful to our generous sponsors for making the event possible, including our Leadership Sponsor JFK&M Consulting Group, and our Architects for Animals Sponsors: Cindy Feinberg, I and Love and You Pet Care, and Pooch & Kitty. We would also like to thank our in-kind supporters for donating their time and talent, including Blossom for providing appetizers; The Love Kitchen for providing desserts; and Dana Humphrey and Whitegate PR for helping to coordinate the evening’s raffle. All items in our raffle were donated to support the cause. Many thanks to I and Love and You Pet Care, Cat Wisdom 101, Rescue Chocolate, Ruby & Jack’s Doggy Shack, and Entirely Pets for their donations and support.

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Stephanie Mattera, Mayor’s Alliance Spokesperson, Receives Service Award

In her role as Alliance spokesperson, Stephanie is sometimes accompanied by her own beloved rescue dog, a Japanese Chin named Keiko, as she was at the first annual Remember Me Thursday event held in September 2013. (Photo by reFABRICATION)

In her role as Alliance spokesperson, Stephanie is sometimes accompanied by her own beloved rescue dog, a Japanese Chin named Keiko, as she was at the first annual Remember Me Thursday event held in September 2013. (Photo by reFABRICATION)

With proud family, friends, and professional colleagues cheering her on, Stephanie Mattera, the Spokesperson for the Alliance, accepted the Bart Lawson Alumni Award for Professional Service and Outreach for her work on behalf of the Alliance at a recent award luncheon held by New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The award is given annually to an NYU alumnus who, using their expertise and experience, has demonstrated a dedication to service in the area of community outreach.

Stephanie, who is a public relations and communications professional with a B.A. in English and an M.B.A. in Global Business Leadership, received her M.S. in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from NYU in 2009. While pursuing the degree, Stephanie, a lifelong animal lover who recalls growing up in a house full of rescued animals who were all considered members of the family, began to think of “putting my passion for animals into more strategic focus and into doing something more tangible.” That desire led her to volunteer with the Alliance, where her enthusiasm and natural ability to communicate with the public led then-volunteer coordinator Barbra Tolan to quickly recommend Stephanie to become the organization’s spokesperson, a role Stephanie assumed in 2010.

In her acceptance speech for receiving the Bart Lawson Alumni Award for Professional Service and Outreach from NYU, Stephanie thanked Alliance Founder and President Jane Hoffman for "empowering me to use my voice as the organization's spokesperson." (Photo by Thea Feldman)

In her acceptance speech for receiving the Bart Lawson Alumni Award for Professional Service and Outreach from NYU, Stephanie thanked Alliance Founder and President Jane Hoffman for “empowering me to use my voice as the organization’s spokesperson.” (Photo by Thea Feldman)

“The passion and love for animals that Stephanie brings to her volunteer role as a spokesperson for the Alliance is evident each time she speaks on behalf of the Alliance, whether at events, with media, or with potential adopters or partners,” says Alliance Founder and President, Jane Hoffman. “We are privileged to have such a poised and articulate member of our team and an extremely effective advocate for our mission.”

Stephanie has represented the Alliance in numerous print and broadcast interviews and has appeared at many events, including Adoptapalooza and Whiskers in Wonderland, as Alliance spokesperson, emcee, or host.

Stephanie has also managed to put another of her passions — fashion, particularly as a vehicle for self-expression and empowerment — to work for the Alliance. More than two years ago, she forged a partnership between Charity by Design, a division of lifestyle brand Alex and Ani, and the Alliance to create a unique charm bangle with the Alliance’s paw print logo. For each bangle sold, Alex and Ani donates a portion of the proceeds to the Alliance. To date, the Alliance has received more than $200,000 in donations from the sale of the bangle, all of which goes directly toward helping companion animals.

Stephanie's passion for animals and for fashion as a vehicle for self-expression led to the creation of this exclusive Alex and Ani charm bangle with the Alliance paw print logo.

Stephanie’s passion for animals and for fashion as a vehicle for self-expression led to the creation of this exclusive Alex and Ani charm bangle with the Alliance paw print logo.

From her perspective, Stephanie is, of course, pleased that her efforts have resulted in benefits for the Alliance, but for her, “Charity and volunteerism are my passion. They give me a great sense of fulfillment.” In her acceptance speech at the awards luncheon (which can be viewed in its entirety in the video below), she thanked NYU for recognizing the value of community service. “I have always believed in the value of education,” she added, “and that it is not only an investment in yourself, but also in your community.” Stephanie’s investment is clearly paying off for NYC companion animals in need.

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Cold-Weather Precautions to Keep Outdoor Cats Safe


Cat in car engine.The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals urges New Yorkers to check for animals taking cover before starting car engines

Thursday, January 16, 2014 – New York, NY – With the cold weather underway, New Yorkers need to take special precautions to ensure the safety of small animals, especially cats, who live outdoors. These animals often seek shelter and warmth by crawling beneath the hood or inside the wheel well of cars parked outdoors or in garages, making themselves vulnerable to injury — or worse — when drivers start their engines. Cars that have been parked overnight (and therefore do not provide warmth) are less of a risk than those that have been parked a short amount of time. To keep animals safe and to prevent damage to vehicles, drivers need only bang on the hood or honk the horn for a few seconds before turning on the ignition.

The fate of one local cat shows what happens when such precautions are not taken. Earlier this month, a two-year-old, orange domestic shorthair cat known as The Deputy was fatally injured when he sought shelter under the hood of a car parked in Washington Heights. When the driver started his engine, the cat’s leg became caught and his left paw was severed. While he managed to escape, he developed an incurable infection and, after suffering agonizing pain for several days, had to be euthanized by a veterinarian.

Said Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance: “With the current freezing temperatures, we need to be extra vigilant about the welfare of animals living outdoors — especially feral cats, who are forced to find inventive ways to stay warm. Taking 30 seconds to check for cats before starting your engine can mean the difference between life and death.”


Mayor's Alliance for NYC's AnimalsAbout the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals®
The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that works with more than 150 partner rescue groups and shelters to offer important programs and services that save the lives of NYC’s homeless animals. We are supported entirely by donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals and receive no government funding. Since our founding in 2003, we have remained committed to transforming New York City into a no-kill community by 2015, meaning that no dogs or cats of reasonable health and temperament will be killed merely because they do not have homes.

Media Contact

Courtney Savoia, LAK Public Relations, Inc.
Phone: (212) 329-1408

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Miracle on 35th Street…or the Meow Heard Round the City

Bright-eyed Bug is snug in his new home after being rescued from a Midtown Tunnel exit road.

Bright-eyed Bug is snug in his new home after being rescued from a Midtown Tunnel exit road.

Living in New York City, people are accustomed to hearing all sorts of sounds at all hours of the day and night, especially if they live in busy midtown Manhattan. Even so, one resident of an apartment building with windows facing an exit road for the Midtown Tunnel did not expect to hear a kitten meowing loudly outside her windows one evening this past summer.

When the road closed to traffic around 11:00 p.m., the resident went to investigate, armed with a bowl of cat food. She spotted a kitten darting back and forth across the road between 35th and 36th Streets. The kitten ignored both her and the food. The woman (who prefers to remain anonymous) eventually, reluctantly, returned to her apartment.

The following day, the concerned person was relieved to run into neighbor Jordana Serebrenik, who has been volunteering with City Critters, an Alliance Participating Organization (APO), since 2007. That evening, after the road closed, Jordana and her neighbor went outside with a humane trap baited with food. They placed the trap on the narrow sidewalk portion of the street knowing that, even if the road was officially closed, an emergency vehicle might still come barreling through in an instant.

All the while they could hear the kitten meowing loudly. “Because of the high walls, sound echoes there, and it was hard to tell where exactly the kitten was,” says Jordana. But they eventually spotted him, first running around and then poking his head up out of a rainwater gully on the east side of the exit road.

The view, looking south from 36th Street, of the Midtown Tunnel exit road and its narrow sidewalks, where Bug the kitten initially evaded rescue efforts. (Photo by Thea Feldman)

The view, looking south from 36th Street, of the Midtown Tunnel exit road and its narrow sidewalks, where Bug the kitten initially evaded rescue efforts. (Photo by Thea Feldman)

The two neighbors were out until 3:30 in the morning, but once again the food lure failed. This continued for a couple of long, late nights, during which time they tried a variety of tempting treats from sardine juice to tuna, all to no avail. At the same time, importantly, the word about the “Midtown Meower” had spread amongst the cat rescue and Trap Neuter Return (TNR) community in New York City, and many individuals offered advice and/or came to help, including Debi Romano, the president and co-founder of SaveKitty Foundation, another APO, and Annie Sullivan, an extremely active NYC-based TNR advocate and practitioner. In addition, in true New-York-City-story style, someone riding by in a cab saw the kitten on the side of the exit road and posted it to a local Yahoo feral cat discussion group, whose members also began to participate in figuring out how to corral the kitten.

“It was a true collaborative effort,” reports Jordana, and it was obviously also an urgent one, given the extremely dangerous location. “It was a tricky rescue,” Jordana says, “because there was no place to contain the kitten and food wasn’t working as a lure.” She credits Holly Staver, the President of City Critters, for coming up with the plan that eventually worked.

Holly reasoned that the kitten’s ongoing loud, plaintive vocalizing and his failure to respond to food lures even though he hadn’t eaten for days, meant that he was calling for something else. She determined that the kitten was crying for his litter. She also believed that this was a good sign for both the rescue effort and the kitten’s future: If the kitten was calling out for companionship, it would most likely bond pretty quickly to another cat. Holly also knew, from her many years of trapping cats, that a cat can be used as a lure to trap another cat or kitten.

“It occurred to me that there are probably recordings of cats and kittens out there that you can use to attract and trap a cat,” says the unassuming Holly. Sure enough, she found what she was looking for on YouTube. On an old micro-cassette recorder, she recorded nine minutes of cats meowing. But she also wondered if this skittish kitten might need more than an auditory lure.

Robbie to the rescue! This adorable little guy helped lure Bug into the trap and to safety. (Photo by Lori Grunin)

Robbie to the rescue! This adorable little guy helped lure Bug into the trap and to safety. (Photo by Lori Grunin)

At the time Holly was fostering an orange kitten named Robbie, who himself talked back to the recording she had made. Robbie was also about the same age as the kitten they were trying to trap and his sweet and mellow temperament made him a good candidate to assist in the effort. So, Robbie was recruited as a rescuer.

Holly, Jordana, the neighbor, and others set the trap up, baited with food, again. This time they put Robbie, in a carrier, at the far end of the trap, so that the other kitten had go into the trap to reach him. They placed the recorder under a towel on top of Robbie’s carrier, hit play, and backed away to watch.

As he had done before, Robbie began talking to the recording. The sounds attracted the other kitten, who cautiously approached and retreated several times. After the recording ended, Robbie kept talking and the other kitten responded. Eventually, the kitten worked up his courage and entered the trap. At least that’s what the rescuers thought. It was too dark to see much but they heard what sounded like the trap door shutting. They advanced slowly and quietly and found the kitten relaxed and eating inside the trap.

The now-calm kitten, a tabby and white polydactyl fellow, spent the night in the bathroom of the woman who had initially heard him meowing. He had a thorough vet check the following day and received a good bill of health. It was also determined he was about four months old.

The woman decided to adopt the kitten, who she and Jordana have named Bug. As Jordana explains, “It’s for his darting movements, but also for the miniature-dinosaur-size water bugs that were everywhere we were standing at night!”

As for Robbie, he had been adopted prior to his stint as a rescuer, and he’s now in his forever home too.

In looking back, Holly thinks there’s a takeaway lesson here. “I think we should listen more to what cats are trying to tell us,” she says, suggesting that perhaps recordings will work in other rescue situations, such as using the recording of a cat in heat to attract and trap a non-neutered male. “The best thing about this rescue,” she adds, “is that it’s over! And that Bug got a home.”

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Medicating Feral Cats and Kittens

(Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim)

(Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim)

by Mike Phillips, NYC Feral Cat Initiative

Feral cats usually have sturdier immune systems than indoor cats, but when they do need medical treatment, the challenge for caretakers is to find ways to treat them without using stressful and traumatic restraint. Cats often break with illness from stress alone, so you want to make sure the method of treatment doesn’t hinder or delay recovery. Using the least invasive treatment available is always recommended for medicating feral cats, but when treating feral kittens during the taming process, you especially want to avoid treatments that require stressful physical restraint to administer. Forcibly restraining any kitten or cat for treatment can embed a fear of being handled that won’t easily be forgiven.

What follows are some of the more common conditions that feral cats and kittens develop, along with some simple treatment options.


You can forget about a flea bath when safe handling of a feral cat or kitten with fleas is impossible! A safe and effective flea treatment for cats and kittens four weeks and older is to add crushed Capstar to the cats’ food. For kittens four to eight weeks old, the dose is a half-pill. You do not need a prescription for Capstar, and you can purchase it online at any of the pet medication websites, or even from some pet supply stores. Capstar has no unpleasant taste and it kills fleas in three to six hours.

However, Capstar does not kill flea eggs that may be on a cat’s body, so it is important, when you can handle the cat safely, to follow up with a long-acting topical treatment such as Advantage, Frontline, or Revolution (which requires a prescription, but also helps treat ear mites and roundworms as discussed below). Apply one of these products to the skin between the cat’s shoulder blades and it will continue working for one month.

Capstar has no lasting effect, so a cat treated with it must not be re-exposed to fleas. For a follow-up treatment that does provide long-term flea control and that works well with adult ferals, you can use Program tablets, which are readily eaten when crushed in food and are an excellent noninvasive way to provide flea control to an outdoor cat when the dosing can be controlled for each individual cat. Program is designed to be the long-term followup to Capstar for flea control when handling the cat is not possible and administering oral medication in food is the only option.

Here’s another tip: If you find you can handle kittens, a bath with Dawn dishwashing detergent kills fleas on contact. Sometimes a flea comb dipped in the soapy water is enough to comb out a few fleas. Be sure to put a soapy ring around the cat’s neck and anus at the start of the bath to prevent the fleas from escaping into ears and you-know-where.

Ear MitesEar Mites

Ear mites are uncomfortable for a cat or kitten and they are contagious, but they are not life-threatening, so if you have to wait until a vet visit for a cat’s ears to be treated, it should be okay. As mentioned above, Revolution is an effective treatment that requires brief handling of a cat or kitten. It can be applied during a vet exam or after the cat’s spay/neuter surgery. Revolution should be administered two times (a month apart) for treating ear mites, but in my experience, one application will often killed all the mites.

Other ear mite treatments, such as Tresaderm eardrops, which also require a prescription and must be refrigerated, need to be applied to ears twice daily for fourteen days. This is stressful and traumatic for fearful kittens. Giving cold eardrops twice a day for two weeks is not a good recipe for taming. The vet can clean and treat the ears with Acarexx (ivermectin) to kill mites when the kittens get their spay/neuter surgeries if you can’t treat them before then.

Viral Infections

Treating viral eye infections can be very difficult, but this must not be neglected. Feline herpesvirus is one of the most common culprits, and scarring and loss of vision is common when it goes untreated. Make sure you take a cat or kitten with an eye infection to a vet so you can get the correct diagnosis and prescription, since treating a cat with the wrong eye medication can be useless or even harmful. For example, if the surface of the eye has been harmed, a steroid ointment could cause permanent damage. Remember too that if you are required to use eye ointments, such as Terramycin or Vetropolycin, or eye drops, you can spread the virus to other cats if the tip of the tube or dropper touches an infected eye. Ideally, each patient will have his or her own tube. If this is financially impossible, take your time and be extra careful.

Terramycin ointment is said to be the most effective against herpes, but it also stings the most. If the cat’s eyes aren’t in too bad a shape, the vet may agree that gentler drops and gentle cleaning may be a sufficient treatment option.

To undo their bad experience of being restrained and treated for an eye problem, spend extra nurturing time with kittens before and after you administer each dose.

Eye InfectionAntibiotics have no direct effect on viral infections like Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), but often vets will prescribe them to treat or prevent a secondary bacterial infection (read more about antibiotics and viral eye infections below). An antibiotic can usually be mixed easily into food, so you will not need to handle the cat. Make sure you can follow the directions precisely or don’t use antibiotics. They are not a “hit or miss” medication to be played around with. Ask the vet if you’re not sure about dosages! Kittens with URI that are bouncing around, playing, and most importantly, eating normally, usually don’t need an antibiotic at all to get well.

Interestingly, vets are finding that a course of treatment with the antibiotic Zithromax (azithromycin), can be very effective for resolving herpes eye infections. The success of this treatment for the viral eye infection is unexplained and “off-label,” so your vet may not be aware of this seemingly miraculous, if counterintuitive, treatment. When eye ointment or eye drops treatments are impossible to administer, azithromycin could save the day. It can also be used as a preventative treatment for a secondary bacterial infection.

Azithromycin can be compounded with flavors and stirred into food. The medicine itself is not perishable, and neither is the “roasted chicken” flavoring. The “tuna” flavoring is perishable and therefore the antibiotic with that flavoring will need refrigeration. With a prescription, you can get azithromycin mailed to you from if your vet or pharmacy doesn’t do compounding.

Famciclovir is another drug that is sometimes used for a difficult viral or herpes eye infection.


Feral cats are susceptible to several different kinds of parasites, including roundworms, coccidia, and giardia. Because it is so common, all kittens should be given pyrantel pamoate for roundworms. This medication must be given twice, with the second treatment following two weeks after the first. Pyrantel pamoate can easily be put in the kittens’ food and they will gobble it up without detection. It is a very effective and safe medicine, but it will not resolve other parasites.

Diarrhea is often a warning sign that a cat or kitten may have a parasite in its system. Diarrhea can be very serious to kitten health and should not be neglected. An exact diagnosis can be difficult to get, but if diarrhea persists, take a stool sample to your vet for testing. The test for giardia is expensive and not usually run as a matter of course, so be sure to ask the vet about it. The routine treatment for giardia is a very bitter drug called Flagyl (metronidazole). It is impossible to disguise this drug in food. Panacur (fenbendazole) liquid suspension (not the powder) is a much better alternative for treating giardia in a feral cat or kitten. It has a chalky taste that gives you a much better chance of sneaking it into food. It is also a once-per-day treatment for only five days — much shorter than the bitter pill regimen.

For coccidia, traditionally, a long course treatment of minty flavored Albon (sulfadimethoxine) liquid has been prescribed. But, for feral cats, a much better alternative is a mostly one-time treatment (some vets repeat the treatment and doses will vary) of tasteless ponazuril, which is easily mixed into food.

Whenever a feral cat or kitten has diarrhea, feed a high-fiber cat food like Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d. If the cat has parasites, a high-fiber food will help push them out of the cat’s system. Adding a tablespoon of unspiced canned pumpkin to regular wet food is another way to add fiber to the diet. High fiber food may sometimes be enough to clear up a simple case of diarrhea, but be ready to get a proper diagnosis and treat with meds if the diarrhea persists.


One of my vet tech professors once told me, “It takes 21 days for ringworm to heal if you treat it, and three weeks if you don’t.” I found this to be true when treating two young feral kittens for this fungal infection at the same time. One kitten was treated with sulfur dips and Conofite (miconazole nitrate) lotion that required repeated vet trips, which terrified her. Her sister was too feral for the vet techs to even handle for treatment. However, in the same amount of time, she healed on her own with good nutrition. She is now a loving lap cat, while her sister hates being touched.

One effective oral drug we’ve used, itraconazole, can be flavored at the pharmacy and you can sneak it into food. For years, Program, a successful flea treatment (mentioned above), was being used off-label to treat ringworm, but recent veterinary literature says it doesn’t work at all on this fungal condition.

For hard-to-treat ferals, if vet treatment is impossible, I recommend you target good nutrition to build a curative immune system response. Ringworm does resolve in time.

When a feral cat needs antibiotic treatment, a one-time injection of Convenia (cefovecin sodium) works well to treat a number of conditions for one to two weeks. This includes infected wounds. It is also a good choice for when a cat has teeth pulled. Convenia has only been tested and approved for treating dermatological problems with cats, so these and other uses are termed “off-label.” Studies have shown, however, that the only side effects, which are rarely seen, may be some nausea for a couple of days.

(Photo by Jake Remington)

(Photo by Jake Remington)

It is very important to keep a feral cat or kitten eating while it is undergoing any medical treatment. During this time it should be fed the most nutritious, premium quality wet food possible to help fuel the battle against the illness. Consider brands such as Natural Balance, PetGuard, Wellness, Nutro, and Eukanuba. Friskies and Whiskas are among the better grocery store brands. Keep the cat eating even if it only wants a less nutritious grocery store brand. Eating something is the most important thing. Building a healthy immune response through a top-quality diet can often heal a feral cat when you can’t handle her safely to medicate properly.

When a medical condition arises, if your veterinarian doesn’t understand the challenges of taming and building a feral cat or kitten’s trust by treating them the least invasive way possible, there are many other vets who do. They will work with you to get kittens to optimal health without using treatment methods that undo your hard socialization work. Ask around for a recommendation from one of the many groups working with feral cats. There is also a list of feral-friendly veterinarians in New York City available on the NYC Feral Cat Initiative website. The kittens, and YOU, deserve all the help and understanding you can get!

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