October 16 is National Feral Cat Day — a day to think about the outdoor cats in our neighborhoods. Feral cats enjoy healthy lives outdoors in family groups called colonies. They're the same species as domestic cats, but are not socialized to people and are not suitable as pets. Virtually 100 percent of feral cats brought to pounds and shelters are killed there.
Shelters want a better model that allows them to save more lives, but change can be difficult. That's why on this National Feral Cat Day, cat lovers nationwide are partnering with their shelters to change their community's approach to feral cats. The best way shelters can help is by not impounding feral cats since they can't be adopted and instead supporting Trap-Neuter-Return to humanely trap, neuter, vaccinate, and then return cats to their colonies.
As a result of 13 years of the annual National Feral Cat Day and the dedication of those who care for cats, there has been a sea change in how people view these cats in our communities. In just the last decade, the number of local governments that officially support Trap-Neuter-Return has increased tenfold.
Becky Robinson, Bethesda
The writer is president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies.