Black cat rubbing on a tree
Photo by Krista Rakovan/The HSUS

“As a people we have played a large part in the world, and we are bent upon making our future even larger than the past.”

I don’t think President Teddy Roosevelt was talking about community cat advocates in his 1902 State of the Union address, but the sentiment applies. The number and breadth of community cat programs seems to be constantly growing. Open-admission shelters and animal control agencies are employing return-to-field strategies, compassionate individuals are spurring trap-neuter-return (TNR) efforts and driving policy changes, and feral cat groups are expanding their reach in helping both community cats and their caretakers. But how do we quantify this progress? What is our benchmark? How do we show our future IS larger than our past?

Lucky for us, Sabrina Aeluro, a student at the University of Washington, is diving deep into this question—and she needs your help. Sabrina just launched the State of the Mewnion survey to find out more about who we are and what we do. Here’s how she describes it:

"The purpose of this survey is to gain a better understanding of the operations and policies of organizations based in the United States that work on feral and community cat care and advocacy.  We hope that by learning what various groups are doing, better practices and policies can be developed to more effectively improve the welfare of feral and community cats and reduce their populations."

She defines “group” broadly to capture the valuable work done by informal clusters of caretakers, as well as more formal organizations. Incorporation and nonprofit status are not required.  And all U.S.-based groups whose work touches community cats—animal control agencies with a return-to-field program, a spay/neuter clinic that services community cats, a group of neighbors lobbying their local officials for pro-cat policy changes—are encouraged to participate in this important research project. Only one survey should be filled out per group, but if you start it and find you need to consult with other members of your group in order to complete it, no worries—you can log out and log back in to continue your survey right where you left off. The survey is open until March 19, 2018.

Preliminary results of the survey will be shared at this year’s Animal Care Expo (look for us in the exhibit hall), which is apropos, since I met Sabrina at an Expo in the Saving Cats track workshops exploring data collection and smart TNR. Her passion for cats was evident, as was her passion for utilizing data and science to bolster the effectiveness of TNR. I know I’m looking forward to learning what she finds. Not only will it help us chart our progress, it will help The HSUS team learn how we can best help other groups working on behalf of community cats.

But for that to happen, we need you to fill out the survey. Get all the details and start your survey here: State of the Mewnion 2018

About the Author

Danielle Bays

As the senior analyst for cat protection and policy, Danielle Jo Bays works to clear policy pathways, broaden support and increase the impact of community cat management efforts nationwide as part of the Humane Society of the United States companion animal policy team. Formerly a member of the HSUS’s wildlife protection team, Danielle has spent her 20+ year career in animal welfare advocating for the humane treatment of animals both wild and domestic and promoting the human-animal bond. Originally from Western New York, Danielle holds a B.S. in Animal Science from Cornell University and a M.S. in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University. Just prior to rejoining the HSUS in 2016, she managed the community cat program in Washington DC. Danielle has TNRd more cats than she can count. She lives with four formerly feral cats and a catio in Washington DC.

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