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Remembering Grandmom: The Long Life of a Boardwalk Cat

One of the oldest residents of the feral cat colonies living along Atlantic City’s famed boardwalk passed away this year, and she will be much missed by her caregivers. Known to some as Grandmom and to others as Snowball, this legendary gray and white lady made her home at the boardwalk for almost 20 years.

Originally part of the New Jersey Avenue colony, Grandmom settled into a colony by the Trump Taj Mahal casino when the dunes washed away from her first home. There, she always enjoyed a snooze in the sun—in summer, she could be found stretched out on the sand. During the winter, she took advantage of the shelters the Boardwalk Cats Project provides, finding the shelter with the best sunbeam to curl up in.

Like all of the feral cats cared for through our Boardwalk Cats Project, Grandmom was trapped, spayed, and returned to her home on the boardwalk—but she didn’t make it easy on our staff and volunteers.

“She was one of the hardest cats to trap,” remembers Amanda Casazza, our Atlantic City Program Manager. When the landmark TNR program began in 2000, this spirited feline evaded our humane box traps and drop traps long after many other cats had been trapped, neutered, and returned.

Despite her elusive nature, Grandmom gradually came to trust our Boardwalk Cats Project volunteers, who revered and respected her as the independent matriarch of the boardwalk.

“When it was her time to pass, she went back to her original colony and curled up in one of the houses there,” says Casazza, illustrating feral cats’ deep attachment to their outdoor homes.

We know from scientific studies that feral cats have the same lifespan as pet cats—about 7 years, on average. Grandmom’s nearly 20-year life at the boardwalk proves that feral cats can live long, healthy lives outdoors—and that there is nothing humane or necessary about killing them in shelters. While she will be deeply missed, Grandmom’s long life continues to inspire us to advocate for policies and programs like the Boardwalk Cats Project nationwide—humane programs that allow feral cats to live out their lives in the outdoor homes they love.