Exactly one week ago, we were alerted to a new feral cat initiative on the Jersey Shore.
Building on the success of the Atlantic City boardwalk cat project, Alley Cat Allies - the nation's largest advocacy group for cats - announced it would hold a workshop Tuesday to build awareness about boardwalk cats in this new community, one that was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
That community was Seaside Heights.
Two days later the boardwalk and 35 businesses were destroyed there by fire.
But fear not, felines are the ultimate survivors and indeed, the four dozen cats were all accounted for, even as their home was badly charred.
The Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Group reported to Alley Cat Allies that the cats turned up Friday at their feeding stations.
The project's focus is to provide spay/neuter services and vaccinations to the cats and return them to their boardwalk home where they would be cared for by volunteers - a process known as Trap Neuter and Return (TNR), which has proved to be the best and most humane method of stray cat control..
Getting a handle on the kitten production stablizes the population of cats immediately and then drops over time, experts say.
“These animals have lived on the boardwalk all their lives—this is their home,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. “The workshop and signs are just the beginning. We hope to recruit local volunteers to help conduct TNR and we will ensure that all of the boardwalk cats go on to lead content, healthy lives in their outdoor homes.”
“The amazing success of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project shows just how well TNR works,” said Aileen Walden, interim director of Community Programs and Support for Alley Cat Allies. “That program has stabilized and reduced the population of cats and today the boardwalk cats of Atlantic City are a major tourist attraction. We look forward to supporting Seaside Heights achieve the same success.”
In 2000, animal control authorities in Atlantic City were preparing to kill 200 cats living on the boardwalk when Alley Cat Allies stepped in with its TNR program that has continued over the years. The multiple colonies at the Atlantic City boardwalk are now monitored and fed by Alley Cat Allies volunteers and staff and they draw visitors and admirers from all over the country.
One facet of the Seaside project this past week called for posting signs alerting the public to the presence of the cats.
We have had no report on whether the signs survived. But it is a blessing that no people were harmed and all the boardwalk cats made it through.