Workshops are an excellent first step to learn or educate others about outdoor cats, Trap-Neuter-Return, and other services available at a local level. They are also a useful tool in networking with other volunteers, caregivers and feeders, and those who care about cats.
If information and advice is not provided by traditional animal groups, you have to create it on the grassroots level to build the new movement to protect the lives of cats. Alley Cat Allies holds workshops in several locations across the country (view our events calendar), but if you cannot attend these events or are interested in hosting your own, the video and materials below will get you on your way to becoming a feral cat expert.
How to Host a Helping Cats in your Community Workshop
Alley Cat Allies has all of the tools to help you host a workshop.
Giving attendees take-home materials will help them retain workshop information. Create packets and assemble them in quantity before your workshop with the help of volunteers (a great job for teenagers wanting to help). Be sure to include a business card or some other document with you or your organization’s contact information for attendee follow-up. If possible, have extra packets on hand so participants can share the information with neighbors or friends. The brochures listed below are available for download from Alley Cat Allies or can be ordered through our Marketplace.
- How to Conduct Trap-Neuter-Return Guide - Learn how to spay and neuter, vaccinate, eartip, and return all feral cats in the colony.
- How to Provide Care for Outdoor Cats Guide - Steps that you as a caregiver can take to promote the cats’ well-being and help them be good neighbors.
- Feral Cat Colony Tracking System - Tracking each cat in your colony is an important part of Trap-Neuter-Return. This chart will help you collect and maintain valuable information.
- Post-Surgery Recovery – What to look for while feral cats are coming out of anesthesia.
- Socialized Cat and Kitten Guide - You may find that you trap a socialized cat or kitten and want to find a home for her. Learn how with this guide.
- How to Live With Cats in Your Neighborhood – This brochure addresses common issues and provides quick solutions and household deterrents that will help keep neighbors happy. (Also available in brochure form in our Marketplace.)
- Organization Tailored Flyer – Make your own flyer that describes local resources including low-cost spay and neuter clinics, other organizations that can help, and any other helpful information. Advertise volunteer opportunities and provide contact information for those interested in getting involved.
Post an announcement on your organization’s webpage. People come to your website because they need help or want more information. Include a link on your homepage about outdoor cats and information about your regular workshops (read website instructions). If there is a calendar on the webpage make sure the workshops are clearly listed. If your workshop is taking place at the local shelter, ask them to put an announcement up in the shelter and on their webpage.
Direct calls for help to your workshop. Every call from a resident to you or your group is an opportunity for humane education. Empower the caller to learn more about the cats they care for or are seeking help with.
Use the internet to find community event lists. Most communities have online local event listings. Consider your neighborhood newspaper, your local www.craigslist.org, and your municipality’s government site.
Local television stations have community calendars online and might even incorporate announcements into their newscasts. Call or e-mail their news desks to see how you can get your workshop announced.
Many local radio stations also have community calendars online where you can upload details about events. Some local stations will include information about events on the air.
When contacting the news media, always provide the following information: name of the event; date; time; location, with specific details (e.g. the workshop will be provided in the basement of St. Kitty Church); indicate that the event is FREE; website of your organization; brief description of the event; and a phone number where you can be reached for media questions.
Advertise to online community groups. Yahoo Groups (www.groups.yahoo.com) is an excellent resource for finding groups of people who would be interested in learning more about outdoor cats. In many areas, neighbors are coming together online to share information. Use the search feature and some keywords to look for community associations, local neighborhood groups, people interested in animals of all kinds, and rescue groups. When you find a group, send an announcement with the details of the workshop to the list manager or join the list and post it yourself. Another site you might check out is www.meetup.com – a great place to post your workshops and create a sense of community where those that come to workshops can interact with one another later.
Take out a classified ad. Most communities have more than one newspaper or publication with classified ads. These ads tend to be short and charge per letter or word. They are relatively inexpensive and can help you reach a different audience of people than you might reach with online marketing. Make your ad clear and to the point and direct people to a place where they can get more information such as a website, email, or phone number. [Example headline: “Feeding outdoor cats? We can help.”]
Some community newspapers may offer free or reduced rates for public service events. If your organization is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the newspaper may be able to provide you with free or heavily discounted advertising rates.
Create a Flyer. A local café, library, or grocery store may have community bulletin boards – post a flyer at these and other locations to let people know about the workshops. Offer stacks of flyers to local pet shops, veterinary offices, and groomers for their clients to take.
Create a kit that you will use at every workshop, for demonstration purposes, including equipment for trapping and sample deterrents that help keep cats away from where they are not welcome.
- Trap cover
- Can of cat food or tuna to show baiting the trap and paper plate to place food on
- An orange
- Carpet runner
- Chicken wire
- Coffee grounds
- Catstop, scarecrow, and Catscat
Every person who comes to a workshop is someone who might be interested in becoming further involved. When attendees show up, ask them to sign in and give them a packet of materials that they can take home. Your sign-in form should include a column for name, basic contact information including email, and a large column to tell you why they decided to come to a workshop. Taking a moment in the beginning to glance at the sign-in sheet will help you get an idea of who is in the room and what sort of information they are expecting to hear.
Some residents coming to the workshop may be hesitant to leave you their name and contact information. Be sure to let them know that you will keep their information confidential and that it will assist you with helping them by connecting them with other people in their area who share the same interest in helping cats.
Always end workshops by letting attendees know that you and your group need volunteer help and explain how they can sign up. Mention a few tasks for which you are most interested in finding help with (i.e., trapping, returning, fostering, office help), but be broad so that workshop attendees understand that your examples are only some of the types of activities for which you need help.
Once the workshop is over, be sure to collect the sign-in form. Later, enter the names of the attendees into a spreadsheet making separate columns for their name and each piece of contact information. Using Microsoft MapPoint, another mapping software, or website, input the individuals’ information in order to map attendees’ residences. As you conduct more workshops and have more attendees, you will likely see trends and you will be able to connect caregivers and those needing help with others in their neighborhood.
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