THIS STORY COULD COME TRUE WITH YOUR
Annie, a feral cat caretaker, is 73 years old. She lives
alone with several cats she has rescued and nursed back to
health. Unable to find homes for them, they have become her
permanent charges. Once and sometimes two times a day, carrying
sacks of cat food, she waits for a bus to take her to an industrial
area several miles from her home, to feed and care for a colony
of 23 feral cats.
ferals cats depend on her and eagerly await her arrival. However,
feeding is only part of her chores. With great patience, she
sets up her traps to catch the ferals who have not been spayed
or neutered. If she cannot find someone to help her, she transports
them in traps and carriers on the bus to the local veterinarian
or pet clinic.
Annie is not knowledgeable in the ways of the local government
and private agencies and lacks the funds, transportation and
information to take advantage of the resources available.
She has no idea that she is one of a great many feral cat
caretakers in communities everywhere and that she is providing
a much needed community service.
One morning while Annie was tending to her ferals, an FCCC
member walked toward her and introduced himself. Annie at
first felt threatened. Who was this confident, authoritative-appearing
person wearing an official looking emblem, the logo of the
he, in fact, a threat? Would her colony be in jeopardy? Would
she be threatened in some way? Would she be pressured into
making changes that could harm her cats? Was this individual
associated with an organization whose beliefs were agreeable
The young man, Leon, seemed genuinely interested in her cats.
He was a new arrival in the community and was a graduate student
at a local university. Learning that Leon missed his family
and their cats, an FCCC member had enlisted his services as
a volunteer. Leon had been directed to Annies area to
assess what help was required.
Leons demeanor and his sincere interest in cats eased
Annies apprehensions. A few days later Leon appeared
again. This time he brought a supply of cat food and nutritional
supplements, which he gave to Annie. The information he left
with her about the FCCC stirred Annies imagination about
the quality of care that might be possible for her ferals.
For the first time, Annie privately acknowledged the burden
she had been carrying and the guilt she felt when she was
too tired to make yet another feeding trip or ran out of money
to buy enough food. Her sense of relief was confirmed when
she received her FCCC membership kit, a schedule of workshops,
information on vouchers available to her, a hotline number
to call and additional help that was available to her through
Without help, Annie bears the financial burden herself. This
is only part of the challenge Annie faces as a caretaker.
If she is unable to trap and transport her cats to a clinic,
she will be faced with the birth of more kittens, accompanied
by the need to devote additional time and money to care for
them. The cycle is unbreakable and her colony continues to
There are no days off for Annie. She continues her daily chores,
helpless to change her situation for the better. If the landlords
of the industrial or private property on which her colony
resides decide they want to destroy her cats, Annie has no
rights and no way to protect her colony. Annie finds her work
with the feral cats to be deeply gratifying, but she is saddened
when she realizes that she is viewed by people in her community
as an eccentric, troublesome old lady.
Leon began to meet Annies bus each morning to help her
with her first feeding of the day and the care of her colony.
After taking several FCCC seminars and workshops Annie benefited
both from her added knowledge and the opportunities to share
experiences with other caretakers. Because of her long "grass
roots" experience, Annie finds that she has a lot to
give as a mentor to new caretakers.
Through FCCC Annie now has close links to the resources for
controlling her colonys population. A consistently carried
out trap, spay and neuter (TNR) program has reduced the birth
of kittens. Annie can transfer cats that need special care
into FCCC transitional facilities, and when Annies funds
cannot stretch to cover the costs, supplemental food and supplies
Annie is always happy to talk about her feral cat colony and
her activities with the FCCC. Her neighbors watch her come
and go, often waving and giving her encouragement. Annies
commitment to her colony provides her with an inner joy that
Annie now couples with her newfound pride as a feral cat caretaker.
She knows that the FCCC is there for her, for whatever new
challenges arise. And she knows that her work is important.