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Press Release

For Immediate Release: NOVEMBER 3, 2008
Contact: ELIZABETH PAROWSKI, or 240-482-1984; FRANCIE ISRAELI, or 202-207-1134

Notes that cats have lived around humans for at least 10,000 years

BETHESDA, MD —Cats and humans have shared a “special bond” for thousands for years, but
some cats will continue to live their entire lives outside without ever becoming “companion
animals,” according to a speech by Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies,
the national advocate for stray and feral cats. Robinson addressed the 10th Annual International
Companion Animal Welfare Conference in Stresa, Italy on October 31.

“Outdoor cats have lived around humans for nearly 10,000 years. They can live in every climate
and are extremely adaptive,” said Robinson. “But it wasn’t until the invention of cat litter in the
1960s that this concept of cats living ‘indoors-only’ took root in the United States. There will
always be feral cats – cats who live their entire lives outside. These cats are quite content and not
awaiting ‘rescue.’”

Robinson noted that feral cats are members of the domestic cat species, yet they live their lives
outside in family groups called colonies. Feral cats are not socialized to humans and cannot be
adopted into homes. Historically, animal pounds and shelters in the United States have not
acknowledged feral cats’ place in our landscape and have instead relied on failed programs like
“catch and kill.”

“Catch and kill is cruel, costly and doesn’t work, due to a well-documented phenomenon called
‘the vacuum effect,’ in which new cats simply take their place and start the cycle all over again,”
said Robinson.

“Because of catch and kill, virtually all feral cats who are taken to animal shelters are killed there
immediately. More than 70 percent of all cats taken to shelters meet the same fate. These policies
are in direct conflict with the humane ethic of most Americans,” Robinson noted. She cited
research conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Alley Cat Allies, which found that
more than 80 percent of Americans prefer a stray cat be allowed to live out her natural life rather
than be caught and killed.

“The best courses of action are humane programs for outdoor cats, like Trap-Neuter-Return, and
high-volume spay and neuter for all cats,” Robinson concluded. “It is time for the operating
policies at pounds and shelters to reflect the values we hold as a society.”


About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the nation’s leading advocate for stray and feral cats. Their website is