The Beloved Boardwalk Cats of Atlantic City and the Alley Cat Allies
How The Alley Cat Allies Saved the Boardwalk
The Alley Cat Allies love the boardwalk cats of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and because of a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program, they have managed to naturally reduce what could have become an out of control population by 71 percent.
A Successful TNR Program
No one really knows how long ago the cats first appeared and have been living in the boardwalk area, but no new kittens have been born there since the TNR program began. There are just over 130 cats that live there, some feral, and some strays. The program has been running successfully since 2000, the same year animal control authorities ordered that the cats all be rounded up and killed. Thanks to the Alley Cat Allies stepping in, however, a horrible fate was prevented for the feline population. The population proved to contentedly coexist (mostly from a comfortable distance) with the people of Atlantic City who have come to accept them.
Once a year, the group—the world’s largest advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats—conducts a clean-up of the area, picking up trash, repairing feeding stations, and refurbishing cat shelters. On the most recent cleanup in 2017, a group of 18 volunteers filled 37 trash bags in the outdoor "home" of the feline residents of the boardwalk.
Several years ago, the group launched National Feral Cat Day, a day of action and public education. Since that time, the group has promoted and coordinated about 1,300 events worldwide.
Outdoor Cats Can Live Long, Healthy Lives
Many of the boardwalk cats are in their teens, living proof that cats can live long and healthy lives outdoors; and these famous cats draw visitors and cat-lovers from all over the country. Some people believe indoor cats, on average, live ten years longer than outdoor cats, but the boardwalk cats are proving to be an exception to that thought.
Even Stray Cats Can Be Playful
The Difference Between Stray and Feral Cats
According to an illustrated guide by the Alley Cat Allies entitled, Feral and Stray Cats - An Important Difference:
"If a cat you don’t know approaches you or if you can touch her, she is most likely not feral. Not all stray cats will do this though, especially at first—each cat will act differently in a variety of situations. More monitoring using these guidelines may be necessary to determine if the cat is socialized."
This is an outstanding guide and should be read by anyone who is in doubt about a particular cat. Feral cats may recognize their caregiver, but that still does not make them a good candidate for a pet. A person feeding a feral cat should not expect that cat to be adoptable.
Hope for Kittens of Feral Cats
If you find kittens that have been born to a feral cat in your area, they can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes, but grown feral cats are not adoptable.
Get Involved in Your Community
If you are interested in becoming an advocate for cats but are unsure about the ordinances regarding cats in your area, the Alley Cat Allies suggest you follow the downloadable guide in their "Advocacy Toolkit," which will (according to their website), "provide the basics in citizen lobbying and prepare you to advocate for humane policies for cats."
How "Outdoor Cats" Became "Indoor Cats"
The product that we have come to know as Kitty Litter was invented only about 60 years ago by Edward Lowe of St. Paul, Minnesota, and until that time all cats were forced to be "outside" cats. Cat lovers worldwide embraced the product, which was used in an indoor feces and urine collection box for cats (and some other animals) and by the time of his death, his company was worth about half a billion dollars.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2017 Mike and Dorothy McKenney