Every community cat has a unique story. If only she could share it with us. But cats don’t have a voice in our world. We must be their voices. We must tell their stories. How can we possibly know a community cat’s story? By telling our stories of advocacy, compassion, protection, and love, we reveal theirs.

This Global Cat Day, 2018, we wanted to hear from those who know in their hearts that all cats, and especially the most vulnerable cats, need champions. Our goal was to share stories about compassionate people who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to help cats. We wanted to give the world a glimpse of what champions and trailblazers look like.

By sharing our stories, we learn from each other. We learn how people become caregivers, advocates, and supporters by doing what they believe is ethical and humane. We learn how people use compassion and education to overcome staunch opposition from neighbors and government officials. We learn through their stories of grit and determination how people ultimately change hearts and minds about cats—and transform their communities—and it inspires us to do the same.

Thank you for the stories you shared with us in honor of Global Cat Day. In the U.S., we heard from people in at least 29 states and Washington, D.C. Around the world, we read stories from people in nine countries, including Argentina, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Chile, Canada, Russia, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom.

Here are a few of those stories, and you can find others here.

In Iowa, a part-time veterinary clinic worker horrified to learn that community cats were needlessly killed in shelters, built his career around saving cats’ lives. He now is the program coordinator for the Iowa Humane Alliance in Cedar Rapids. He and his team operate the only low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter clinic in the state. They have sterilized more than 44,000 animals since opening in 2013—about 25 percent were community cats.

In Chile, several volunteers founded TNR Chile to advocate for cats and educate officials about humane and effective community cat management. Through their efforts, a nationwide law now protects cat colonies and specifies they only can be managed with Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR).

In California, Christine Hubbard celebrated her birthday by doing something for the greater good—she started a rescue that saved the lives of 2,000 cats and kittens over the last seven years. She says she never could have anticipated how this would change her life permanently. Now she knows that one person can make a difference!

You and I have more work to do and more stories to tell to motivate others to instigate change in communities around the world. So whether you educate city officials, bottle feed kittens, or help create new lifesaving programs, whether you build outdoor shelters, manage a colony, or save the life of one cat, you are making a difference for all cats. Your actions and your words matter.

Let me leave you with the words of one of our compassionate advocates from Ohio. “Although I didn’t originally sign up for this, I am so glad they [the cats] chose me as their caretaker. It has been a very rewarding experience and, as long as I’m able, I’ll be there for those who need a warm bed, good food, and most of all, unconditional love!”

Please speak up for community cats all over the world and share more of their stories by telling our own. As we pay tribute to all the people, the cats, and their stories on Global Cat Day, we also must look to the future. We are creating a humane world where all cats can thrive.

Share your cat story at GlobalCatDay.org and follow us online with the #GlobalCatDay hashtag.