Alley Cat Allies launched National Feral Cat Day in 2001 and it has exploded into feral cat action annually ever since. Events take place online, and offline with food drives, TNR events and more and more people involved each year.
The theme for 2016 is “All Cats All Communities” and we are celebrating feral and community cats by interviewing Outpawed, New Zealand. Outpawed are fighting the feral cat corner on the other side of the world but stand shoulder to shoulder with Alley Cat Allies.
Meet Outpawed based near Wellington, on the North Island of New Zealand.
Can you introduce us to Outpawed, New Zealand
Outpawed was founded with the purpose of protecting feral and stray cats. It was evident that these cats were not getting the care they needed and the situation deteriorated when politicians got involved. A culture of hate has been created and the cats are suffering for it. Outpawed (also on FB) is involved in the care of feral cats, using and promoting TNR as an effective management strategy.
We aim to socialise and home cats when possible, educate the community, support other rescue groups and provide care for local colonies. Advocacy is a huge part of what we do and we want to give our community cats a voice.
Do feral communities have a lot of help and support here in New Zealand?
Not enough. There are a lot of small rescue groups and individuals out there doing the best they can, but there is not enough understanding and support from the wider community and government. We have a long way to go.
Does Outpawed use TNR? We have seen TNR in action in the USA.
Yes we do, but it does not seem to be a commonly used method in New Zealand. We believe it is effective in terms of population control and cost. There is no need to euthanise healthy cats.
What frustrations do you at Outpawed have when dealing with feral, stray and community cats.
It’s not the cats that frustrate us, it’s the people. We have met a lot of wonderful people, but we have also met a lot of people who view us as pest control and just want the cats gone. The biggest problem is the perception of cats as a problem. Until people understand the importance of desexing their cats, we will be going around in circles.
Do you have some positive stories to share? Successful rescues, TNR projects achieved?
Yes! There are many, but two in particular come to mind. Earlier this year we were called to a suburb in Lower Hutt to trap a mother cat. We were told that she had been abandoned by former tenants and had since given birth to three litters. We were able to trap her and two very ill young babies within hours. The little ones weighed in at half what they should have and were riddled with fleas and worms. Since their recovery, all three have gone to wonderful forever homes.
The second story is a very sad one, but has a positive outcome for one young cat. In April we were brought three wild-born kittens from Whanganui. All three were eight weeks old and weighed only 300 grams. The smallest of the three passed away at 12 weeks, no bigger than she was when she arrived.
The remaining two cameo kittens became affectionately known as the twins and they stole many hearts. Sadly, Shamrock passed away from FIP in August, but his sister is doing well. She is now eight months old and 2 kg. Although she does have some health issues, she is a happy and spirited young thing. If all goes well she will be going to her forever home next month.
What does Outpawed need from us in the New Zealand community?
The biggest thing we need is support. We really need people to engage with the issue, spread the message and help us change the world for our community cats.
In terms of things we use, our biggest need is food. As well as 40 cats in our rescue room, enclosures and out in foster care, we also have colonies to feed.
Other useful items include :-
- equipment (bowls, litter boxes and dog crates),
- paper towels
- and, of course, toys. Play is an extremely useful tool in the socialisation process.
- Crates are used to give the cats a safe place to return to when they are in foster care.
We would love to have been able to have a food bin at a local supermarket, but so far we have been unable to organise one. We really do rely on the community to help us care for these cats.
If Outpawed had a dream what would it be?
That’s easy! We desperately want to build a cat sanctuary on a big farm somewhere. It would be fully enclosed, allowing rescue cats to live out their days in safety and peace. Thinking bigger, we would like to see more support for desexing and legal recognition of TNR as a viable cat management strategy.
Outpawed are amazing, and they fight the feral corner here in New Zealand. We think ferals worldwide face the same issues, with New Zealand having a long way to go with TNR. Thank you Outpawed for being our community and feral cat defenders in the Wellington area.
- Alley Cat Allies have a truckload of handouts, tips, event guides and colouring sheets here. Join us in celebrating National Feral Cat Day – Worldwide.