It's hard to imagine a more stressful environment than a shelter for a feral cat. Noise, crowding, exposure to illness, feeling trapped, and the tragedy of shelter policies that often have no options for fearful, unsocial, shy, and defensive cats other than death. In fact, Alley Cat Allies reports that 7 out of every 10 cats brought into a shelter does not leave alive.
But new developments in shelter medicine, new animal control policies for community cats, and above all, a new way of thinking about the issue can change all that.
To help foster that new way of thinking, Maddie's InstituteSM presented a webcast on community cats with Dr. Julie Levy, director of Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida earlier this year. The response from the audience was overwhelming, not only in the form of appreciation for the information provided by Dr. Levy, but with requests for even more information, resources, tips, and tools to help feral and free-roaming cats in their communities.
In this issue, we have brought together as many of those requested resources as possible, adding detail to the programs and policies outlined in Dr. Levy's presentation, and expanding our focus to include reflections on the past, present, and future of community cat advocacy.
We spoke to a leading shelter director on how her view of the issue has changed over time. We examined a successful program in Florida, and how it got that way. We asked a leading shelter veterinarian to outline a model high volume, high quality spay/neuter program. We brought together the nation's top animal welfare advocates to share their secrets for working with government officials, the media, and community members. And we asked Maddie's Fund® President, Rich Avanzino, to share his vision for a new approach to community cats.
We offer these resources to everyone involved in community cat advocacy as a tribute to the spirit of one small dog, Maddie, whose unconditional love and greatness of spirit inspired the founders of Maddie's Fund to pledge their resources to help save the lives of the nation's homeless dogs and cats.
The Maddie's Institute Team