The Beloved Boardwalk Cats of Atlantic City and the Alley Cat Allies - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
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The Beloved Boardwalk Cats of Atlantic City and the Alley Cat Allies

Dorothy and Mike love cats and have done significant research on the cat-protection group, Alley Cat Allies.

The beloved cats of the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ, are protected and fed by a group called The Alley Cat Allies and other volunteers who assist in a program of trap-neuter-return that began in 2000.

The beloved cats of the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ, are protected and fed by a group called The Alley Cat Allies and other volunteers who assist in a program of trap-neuter-return that began in 2000.

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.

Volunteers, and members of Alley Cat Allies pick up trash at the home of the boardwalk cats of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Volunteers, and members of Alley Cat Allies pick up trash at the home of the boardwalk cats of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Yearly Clean-Ups

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.

People feeding feral cats should not mistake familarity with affection; they will become  aggressive and lash out if threatened or cornered (signs of aggression include ears back and eyes dilated). Stray cats may be approachable; feral cats are not.

People feeding feral cats should not mistake familarity with affection; they will become aggressive and lash out if threatened or cornered (signs of aggression include ears back and eyes dilated). Stray cats may be approachable; feral cats are not.

Even Stray Cats Can Be Playful

The boardwalk cats of Atlantic City are feral or stray, but they are adored by many who are happy to feed and care for them on a daily basis. This particular one is probably a stray and would welcome a petting.  Most, however, are feral.

The boardwalk cats of Atlantic City are feral or stray, but they are adored by many who are happy to feed and care for them on a daily basis. This particular one is probably a stray and would welcome a petting. Most, however, are feral.

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.

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."

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Mike and Dorothy McKenney