Alliance Gives Away Free Cat Food to TNR Volunteers

Alliance President, Jane Hoffman, and volunteers, Gurjinder Cheema and David Glicksman, get ready to move thousands of pounds of cat food into the vehicles of eager Certified TNR Caretakers at the most recent NYC Feral Cat Initiative giveaway on January 30, 2015. (Photo by Carol Zytnik)

Alliance President, Jane Hoffman, and volunteers, Gurjinder Cheema and David Glicksman, get ready to move thousands of pounds of cat food into the vehicles of eager Certified TNR Caretakers at the most recent NYC Feral Cat Initiative giveaway on January 30, 2015. (Photo by Carol Zytnik)

Thanks to three generous grants, beginning in late October 2015, the New York City Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI), a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, held three cat food giveaways for volunteer Certified Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Caretakers. In total, the NYCFCI provided approximately 700 caretakers with more than 6,000 cases of canned food and 500 12-pound bags of dry food.

Held in Queens, grateful caretakers from across the New York City area arrived for each giveaway at their pre-registered times to load up with free food for the felines in their care. They came by car, on foot, and even by taxi. Each participant left with lots of cat food, a big smile, and words of appreciation.

“Thanks for doing what you do with the food,” said one caretaker from a Staten Island non-profit that feeds approximately 60 community cats twice a day, every day. “It’s so important, and one of the most overlooked problems in the feral cat community—sometimes there just isn’t enough money to feed the cats, only to TNR them.”

Jane Hoffman, President of the Alliance, credits Certified TNR Caretakers with “really doing all the labor, mostly on their own dime. So this is the way we try to help them.”

Certified TNR Caretakers line up to have their cars loaded up with cat food by volunteers, John Iannuzzi and Gurjinder Cheema, and staff member, Kathleen O'Malley, at the NYC Feral Cat Initiative's giveaway on December 12, 2015. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

Certified TNR Caretakers line up to have their cars loaded up with cat food by volunteers, John Iannuzzi and Gurjinder Cheema, and staff member, Kathleen O’Malley, at the NYC Feral Cat Initiative’s giveaway on December 12, 2015. (Photo by Maureen Smith)

At the first two giveaways, made possible through an anonymous donation and held on October 24 and December 12 of 2015, a combined total of approximately 3,900 cases of Innova canned cat food were distributed. Packets of EVO Wild Cravings treats were also available. At the third giveaway, held on January 30, 2016, about 2,100 cases of Wellness wet food were made available thanks to a grant from the Jackson Galaxy Foundation and more than 500 bags of 9Lives dry food were also provided, thanks to an ASPCA grant.

Kathleen O’Malley, the NYCFCI’s Director of Education was pleased that the first giveaways were able to be scheduled “just as caretakers were getting ready for winter, because we recommend that caretakers feed wet food for the extra nutrition during the colder months.” Apparently community cats across the city were also pleased. After each giveaway, the NYCFCI received many notes of thanks from the cats themselves.

NYCFCI Cat Food Giveaways - Thank-You Notes

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“Nobody’s Cats” a TNR Treat for Young Readers

   

Nobody's Cats by Valerie Ingram and Alistair SchroffReviewed by Evon Handras, Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals

Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? In the case of Nobody’s Cats by Valerie Ingram and Alistair Schroff, you absolutely can. This beautifully written and illustrated story is sure to be a winner with children and adults alike, which holds true for all timeless children’s picture books. From the very first page, the readers’ heartstrings are tugged on just enough to want to keep reading about what happens to the cold and hungry little black kitten the story’s young hero happens to meet one wintry day.

Based on a true story that took place in rural British Columbia, the story centers around a young boy who comes across other children taunting a tiny kitten and the other cats taking refuge at an old barn. He jumps in to protect the kitten by scaring the other children away, and he never forgets him. In the spring, a humane educator visits the school. The boy, the true hero of the story, recounts what he saw. What follows next is a wonderful community effort to help these community cats. The children, with the help of the adults and the compassionate local vet, embark upon a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) project that vastly improves the lives of the cats.

Nobody’s Cats is an excellent introduction for young readers. It touches upon kindness and compassion towards animals and community cooperation, and offers excellent illustrations on Trap-Neuter-Return basics and proper colony care. Readers also get an understanding of the difference between feral cats and stray cats that can be rehomed, which is a big part of working to help community cats. The book also provides an excellent glossary of community cat terms for young readers.

Nobody’s Cats is based on the community cat project that the authors and their local community worked on for three years. In addition to being a key part of the project, local students contributed artwork and also helped write the ending of the story. “Nobody’s cats” are really a community’s cats, and this excellent book conveys that point beautifully.

How to Order

Nobody’s Cats is available as a soft cover book for a $10 donation (which includes shipping). Contact valerie@lakesanimalfriendship.ca to order. A Kindle edition is available on Amazon.com.

All proceeds support the Lakes Animal Friendship Society, a small, volunteer-run animal welfare organization in rural northern British Columbia, Canada, which focuses on several initiatives including student and community education about animal care; compassion and bite safety; spay/neuter assistance for animals from lower income families; TNR and colony support for community cats; dog houses for dogs and cats in need of all-weather outdoor shelter; and pet food for the local food bank.

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Evon HandrasAbout the Reviewer
Evon Handras, a former music business professional, joined the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals as Director of Administrative Services in 2007. She currently works with the Alliance’s NYC Feral Cat Initiative program, and also is active in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) of the community cats in her home borough of Queens. In addition to her work on behalf of the animals, she still engages her passion for music by occasionally moonlighting as a DJ specializing in classic soul music.

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New York’s Architects Support Community Cats

The crowd favorite community cat shelter on display at the fifth annual 'Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter' fundraiser to support the NYC Feral Cat Initiative was 'Re-Tire-Tent,' a multi-level recycled tire tower created by Narofsky Architecture. (Photo by Carol Zytnik)

The crowd favorite community cat shelter on display at the fifth annual “Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter” fundraiser to support the NYC Feral Cat Initiative was “Re-Tire-Tent,” a multi-level recycled tire tower created by Narofsky Architecture. (Photo by Carol Zytnik)

On January 14, 2016, close to 200 people attended Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter, a unique exhibit, cocktail reception, and fundraiser held at the Steelcase Showroom to support the New York City Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI), a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

This year, the event’s fifth, seven prestigious New York City architectural design teams presented winter shelters they conceived and created specifically for the city’s community cat population. Creations included The Purrramid from Spacesmith, a pointed structure with a paper mache exterior over repurposed carpet-tile insulation; Kitty Kondos, feline multi-story housing from HLW International; and the Hamilton “Cat”sule Tower from Docomomo US.

Shelters demonstrating innovative use of recycled materials were also on display, including an orange-and-white-striped, plastic construction barrel shelter with an insulated liner from deSoto studio Architects; a winding, industrial pipe shelter called HV A Cat from Biber Architects; and a tire tower called Re-Tire-Tent from Narofsky Architecture that guests voted as their favorite.

Leslie Farrell, animal lover and founder of Architects for Animals, was on hand to thank guests for showing their support, and the design teams that donated shelters for this year’s exhibition. “We are grateful and overwhelmed by their creativity and generosity,” she said. “Their compassion for animals who find themselves living on the harsh streets of New York is really heartwarming. Each year we see different trends demonstrated by the shelter designs, and this year, it’s exciting to see many of the shelters constructed with recycled materials, which is great for our planet and its inhabitants — including the cats. All the shelters were wonderful.”

“The Purrramid” from Spacesmith was a decorative as well as functional community cat shelter on display at the 2016 "Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter" exhibit. (Photo by Thea Feldman)

“The Purrramid” from Spacesmith was a decorative as well as functional community cat shelter on display at the 2016 “Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter” exhibit. (Photo by Thea Feldman)

The shelters were delivered the very next day to Certified TNR Caretakers around the city.

Jane Hoffman, President of the Alliance, commends the architectural and design community in New York City for, “once again, investing in the city’s feline community in an important way. While we urge the public to help in the Alliance’s efforts to humanely curb the feral cat population,” she adds, “the efforts of our designers will help keep the existing cats warm during these harsh winter months.”

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New York Architects Create Innovative Shelters for Feral Cats

'The Purrramid' by Spacesmith (Photo by Carol Zytnik)

“The Purrramid” by Spacesmith (Photo by Carol Zytnik)

Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter features imaginative feral cat shelters on display at Steelcase Showroom

Thursday, January 14, 2016 – New York, NY – A unique exhibit that combines the love of architecture with the love of animals was unveiled this afternoon at a special press preview of Architects for Animals: Giving Shelter. On display at the Steelecase Showroom were winter shelters designed, built and donated to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals by respected architecture and design firms as well as individual architects and designers. Specifically created for feral and stray “community cat” colonies in New York City, the exhibit will be unveiled to the public at a fundraising event this evening benefiting the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

Among the architectural firms and individuals participating in this year’s exhibition are:

Following the exhibition, the shelters will be evaluated by the Alliance and installed in community cat colonies across New York City. Designed to keep outdoor cats more comfortable during the cold winter months, the shelters are also meant to serve as inspiration for others to build their own shelters if they see an animal in need.

'HV A Cat' by Biber Architects (Photo by Carol Zytnik)

“HV A Cat” by Biber Architects (Photo by Carol Zytnik)

On site this afternoon were Leslie Farrell, Founder of Architects for Animals; Mike Phillips, Coordinator of Community Outreach for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals; and various architects, designers, and feral cat experts.

Jane Hoffman, President of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, said, “I’d like to thank the architectural and design community in New York City for, once again, investing in the city’s feline community in an important way. While we urge the public to help in the Alliance’s efforts to humanely curb the feral cat population, the efforts of our designers will help keep the existing cats warm during these harsh winter months.”

Feral cats are not socialized to humans. Cats that are born outdoors and have little or no interaction with humans become feral. The NYC Feral Cat Initiative is committed to solving NYC’s feral cat overpopulation crisis through the humane, non-lethal method of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). This is how TNR works:

  • First, stray and feral cats, also called “community cats,” are humanely trapped by volunteer certified TNR caretakers who bring the cats to a free or low-cost spay/neuter clinic or veterinarian where they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped.
  • The volunteers then return the cats to the original colony. The volunteers also provide ongoing care of the cats, including daily food, water, and clean-up of the area, shelter, and monitoring of the cats’ health.

This ongoing surveillance ensures that any new cats that find their way into the colony will be removed if they are tame, or TNR’d if they are feral.

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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 community where no dogs or cats of reasonable health and temperament will be killed merely because they do not have homes. www.AnimalAllianceNYC.org

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Hold That Tiger! TNR Holding Space Tips

A classic holding space for TNRed cats. (Photo by NYCFCI)

A classic holding space for TNRed cats. (Photo by NYCFCI)

New Yorkers are famous for — out of necessity — getting creative with small spaces, and the New York City Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI) of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals knows that this is especially true for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) caretakers. As the NYCFCI’s Director of Education Kathleen O’Malley cites, “In a perfect world, all TNR caretakers would be able to get all their cats TNRed in one fell swoop.” The NYCFCI encourages mass trapping in its TNR certification workshops because doing so makes it easier to ensure that all the cats in a colony have been spayed/neutered as well as given health checks and vaccinations. Mass trapping is also good for community relations in that it quickly eliminates the noises and smells of the cats’ mating behaviors and the resulting litters of kittens.

However, in order for caretakers to do mass trappings of their cats, they need access to adequate holding/recovery spaces. “The classic recovery space setup,” says Kathleen, “is an entire room with enough space to line traps up on tables with room for the caretaker to clean all the traps and prepare food and water.” Basements, garages, enclosed porches, or another spacious, separate area can serve the purpose, but they can all be hard to come by. Until now. Thanks to its TNR Networking Survey, the NYCFCI now has a confidential database of Certified TNR Caretakers around the city who have access to and are willing to share decent-sized holding spaces. The NYCFCI shares this information on a case-by-case basis with permission from the people lending the holding spaces. Everyone who completes the NYCFCI’s TNR certification workshop receives the survey shortly after taking the workshop. If you need to update your information from the survey, please email info@NYCFeralCat.org, or watch your e-mail for the next monthly TNR Caretaker Update.

If access to a large space is still not an option, the NYCFCI has a number of tips gathered from Certified TNR Caretakers that it hopes will inspire others doing TNR. For one thing, Kathleen points out, “Trapped cats don’t have to rest in the exact same spot where you do the cleaning and feeding.” You can have the cats rest and recover in one area and have the workspace in another area. Or, you can have a workspace that is just large enough for you to clean one trap and feed one cat at a time. You can move traps and cats one at a time back and forth between the resting space to the workspace.

A rolling baker's rack allows you to maximize the number of TNR traps you can fit into a small holding space. (Photo by NYCFCI)

A rolling baker’s rack allows you to maximize the number of TNR traps you can fit into a small holding space. (Photo by NYCFCI)

As for the resting space, it can also be quite compact if all the cats are from the same colony. (Kathleen does caution that “If you’re trapping cats from two or more colonies at the same time, they should be kept separate for infection control.” See more on infection control below.) Traps can rest on shelves, planks of wood on the floor, or on any other stable spot that is easy to keep clean. The folks at Bronx Tails Cat Rescue have what Kathleen calls an “elegant way” to use a small laundry room for recovery: a rolling baker’s rack that accommodates multiple traps. Sturdy plastic sheets placed on each shelf prevent leakages onto lower traps.

NYCFCI also has tips for caretakers who may be concerned about the potential risk of any infections spreading while cats are being held, no matter the size of the space. Kathleen notes that “trap covers not only keep community cats calm in captivity, they also help prevent the spread of airborne contaminants.” Trap covers also will keep fleas from spreading in the unlikely event that they leave their host cat. However, if you need added peace of mind about fleas, Kathleen suggests you ask for a topical flea control product to be put on the cats when they are at the spay/neuter clinic. Another option is to put oral flea medication into the cats’ food after they’ve been trapped. Check with your vet about the proper medication and dosage.

It is worth bearing in mind, Kathleen says, that cats from the same colony are used to living in close proximity to each other and therefore, if there is any infection going around, they were probably exposed to it before they were TNRed.

It is recommended, though, that you wear shoes and protective clothing, including rubber gloves, that you change out of when you leave the holding space, in order to keep any contaminants from spreading to your pets or to other colonies you may have in other holding spaces. In addition, be sure to dispose of dirty trap liners in a covered container and launder dirty trap covers. Once all the cats are safely back in their colony or colonies, clean and disinfect all traps and surfaces you used for their care. The NYCFCI offers an Infection Control workshop. For information on that and other NYCFCI workshops, visit the TNR Specialty Training Workshops in NYC page.

You may be in a position where the most you can do is TNR one or maybe two cats at a time. That, Kathleen says, is just fine. You will, she assures you, “get that rush of satisfaction from returning those first couple of cats to their colony.” She urges you to keep going until you eventually TNR the entire colony. “The benefits,” she says, “are well worth it.”

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