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New Children’s Book Teaches Kids About Stray and Feral Cats


The Cats On My Block by Valerie SicignanoThe Cats On My Block Offers Young Readers Insights Into the Life of Community Cats

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 – New York, NY – Teaching children about feral and stray cats, often referred to as “community cats,” just got easier with the publication of The Cats On My Block, a delightful new children’s book written by animal welfare veteran, Valerie Sicignano, and illustrated by Jayne Sayre Denny.

The Cats On My Block is published by The Humane Society of New York (HSNY), and all proceeds from the sale of the book go to fund their Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Program. The program was the first coordinated spay/neuter program for community cats in New York City and today remains one of city’s primary resources offering free spay/neuter services for community cats.

Through conversation among the story’s characters, readers of all ages gain insight into a basic misconception about feral cats. When Luke asks Willow if the cats are homeless, she replies, “No, the outdoors is their home.”

Willow introduces Luke to a neighbor, Keith, who cares for the cats through daily feeding and monitoring, and by providing shelters to offer protection against the elements. Keith explains how he carries out Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) in the neighborhood to have the cats spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and left-eartipped to identify them as having been “fixed,” and then returns them to their outdoor home.

The book features an introduction to the cats on Willow’s block with illustrations, names, and descriptions, allowing young readers to get to know them as more than nameless strangers. A glossary of feral catology offers readers a vocabulary to broaden their understanding of the cats.

“Offering children insights into the lives of community cats — and how the quality of their lives can be greatly improved by the intervention of caring humans — is a first step toward instilling a caring and compassionate attitude towards community cats,” says Jane Hoffman, President of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. “This book is an excellent tool for humane education.”

Sandra DeFeo, Executive Director and Feral Cat Program Coordinator for The Humane Society of New York, said, “The Humane Society of New York is proud to publish The Cats On My Block. This beautifully written and illustrated story takes us on a very special journey into the world of outdoor cats. Children of all ages will be delighted by the book and will learn important lessons about how these cats live and why we should care for them.”

The Cats On My Block is available for purchase on Amazon.com: http://bit.ly/CatsBlock

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About the Author
Valerie Sicignano completed a Certificate in Humane Education at the ASPCA in 1997. In 2007, she was the keynote speaker at the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Humane Education Conference in New York City, where she also wrote and presented a workshop for teachers. That same year she produced the Humane Education Leadership Conference in New York City. She is a co-founder of the New York City Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and recipient of the Animal Guardian Award from the Manhattan Pet Gazette and the Companion Animal Guardian Award from In Defense of Animals.

About the Illustrator
Jane Sayre Denny is an award-winning graphic designer and artist with a deep love of cats. She is the author and illustrator of The Twelve Cats of Christmas and Emmaline, and illustrator of the Power Kid series of child empowerment books by Obi Nwokolo. Jane created The Pride, the reality cat cartoon starring Crazy Johnny that won the 2007 Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion for best cat cartoon. The Twelve Cats of Christmas won the Cat Writers’ 2012 Certificate of Excellence, Muse Medallion, and the Kuykendall Image Award for outstanding image series featuring cats.

The Humane Society of New YorkAbout The Humane Society of New York
Since 1904, The Humane Society of New York has been a presence in New York City, caring for animals in need when illness, injury or homelessness strikes. Today, the Society’s hospital and its Vladimir Horowitz and Wanda Toscanini Horowitz Adoption Center help more than 38,000 animals annually. On any given day The Humane Society of New York is responsible for hundreds of animals with diverse needs, many of which have nowhere else to turn for life-giving help. To support the community, HSNY offers a range of free and low-cost spay/neuter options to protect animals’ health and prevent pet overpopulation. www.humanesocietyny.org

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. www.AnimalAllianceNYC.org

Media Contacts

Courtney Savoia, LAK Public Relations, Inc.
Phone: (212) 329-1408
E-mail: csavoia@lakpr.com

Sandra DeFeo, The Humane Society of New York
Phone: (212) 752-4842 x233
E-mail: sandra.hsny@verizon.net