“Beginning in the early 1990s trap/neuter/return (TNR) protocols, pioneered in this country by Alley Cat Allies, changed the fundamental paradigm for managing free-roaming stray and feral cats collectively known as community cats.”
– Gregory Castle, CEO Best Friends Animal Society
Alley Cat Allies is the global engine of change for cats. For more than 30 years, we’ve inspired individuals and communities to work to change laws, improve shelters, and most importantly save cats.
Since our founding in 1990, we have championed Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) as the only humane and effective approach for community cat management. By establishing and promoting optimal standards of care, we have propelled the humane treatment of cats into the global spotlight. Before Alley Cat Allies, TNR was unknown in America, and no local government endorsed it. Today, a growing list of over 600 municipalities have officially embraced TNR.
More than half a million supporters look to Alley Cat Allies for leadership in the movement to protect cats’ lives. We advance progressive policies for cats in communities all over America and across the globe and work toward a world that values the lives of all animals.
Our years of experience in grassroots organizing, hands-on activism, and education has empowered policymakers, veterinarians, nonprofit organizations, volunteer groups, activists, and caregivers with the tools and knowledge to practice, teach, and advocate for humane care for cats in every community.
From our headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, Alley Cat Allies’ staff serve as the voice for cats and the millions of people who value them.
Take a Walk Through Our History
Our roots go back to 1990, when Becky Robinson and a friend discovered an alley with 56 feral cats, and two smaller colonies, in “the Washington, DC neighborhood of Adams Morgan. With the help of the cats’ caregivers, they humanely trapped the cats, had them neutered, and returned them to their outdoor homes.
Deluged by requests for help, and concerned for cats routinely killed by animal control agencies and shelters, Robinson founded Alley Cat Allies.
A year later, she launched the Feral Friends Network to help people navigate the animal control system and connect with experienced cat caregivers for advice and assistance. Today the Feral Friends Network comprises thousands of skilled caregivers, veterinarians, rescue groups, and spay and neuter clinics in America and around the globe. By 1993, Alley Cat Allies had developed a set of protocols for Trap-Neuter-Return and veterinary care for community cats, also known as feral cats. These serve as guidelines for more than 4,000 humane societies and shelters.
By 1998, our first office was opened in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Becky Robinson is invited to speak at the first discussion of nonlethal feral cat control at a National Animal Control Association training conference. Her participation demonstrates both the growing momentum behind TNR and Alley Cat Allies’ role as TNR experts.
In the year 2000, when Atlantic City’s animal control started trapping and killing cats living under the city’s famous boardwalk, Alley Cat Allies intervened and convinced the public health director, Ron Cash, to endorse a pilot TNR program. Now called the Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project, the model program is still going strong and receives outspoken support from the city government, local businesses, and the community.
That same year, Alley Cat Allies became the first group to have a TNR contract with the U.S. military when TNR became an officially funded program at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia.
In 2001, to celebrate our 10th anniversary, alley Cat Allies designated October 16th as National Feral Cat Day an annual celebration of community cats and their advocates, and many others.
In 2008 Alley Cat Allies launched a social media campaign that resulted in 208 Facebook friends and 11 Twitter followers. Today, through our online communities of nearly half a million Facebook fans and 21,000 Twitter followers, we can take even swifter action to mobilize our network to protest threats to cats.
Victories for cats continue to mount. Over the years, the list of accomplishments expands to include a low cost spay and neuter clinic, TNR ordinances, peer-reviewed scientific studies, the Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project, expanding to offices in Bethesda, MD, National Feral Cat Day, and so much more.
We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished. But we know the fight to protect cats is not over. With an eye to the future, we envision a complete transformation of the animal control system with animal control facilities that kill healthy animals replaced by a system that honors every animal’s life. We envision a day when cats and all animals are protected by comprehensive laws and enforcement. But that day is not yet here. That’s why cats and caregivers need Alley Cat Allies.