On June 15, we were proud to host a special Cat Hero Celebration to recognize the city officials and volunteers in Atlantic City, NJ, whose hard work made our lifesaving Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project a success.

In an award ceremony on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Alley Cat Allies honored four local leaders for their dedication to our model Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) project. We also presented Cat Hero awards to 29 volunteer caregivers, who feed and care for the cat colonies along the boardwalk—rain or shine.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, Director of Public Works Paul Jerkins, and police Chief Henry White, along with Humane Society of Atlantic County Executive Director Steven Dash, were the guests of honor.

“We’re here because of the cats, but…this is a testimony. What you’re seeing is years and years of devotion from a lot of people from every single part of this city,” said Alley Cat Allies President and Founder Becky Robinson in her speech at the award ceremony.

Alley Cat Allies has been doing TNR and caring for the community cats living along the Atlantic City Boardwalk since 2000. The city officials and dedicated volunteers who worked with us were vital to kicking off the project and helping it run smoothly.

Now, the Boardwalk Cats Project is a model program—proof of all we can achieve when city officials, the public, and cat advocates work together for compassionate policies. The Boardwalk Cat population has naturally declined by more than 72 percent over the years. The cats lead healthier lives, and many of them are well into their teens. They have even become a famous and beloved boardwalk attraction!

At the Cat Hero Celebration, the guests of honor spoke about their commitment to the project.

Chief Henry White said he and the police department were “very humbled to receive this award from such an outstanding organization” and honored to play any role they can to assist the project.

Mayor Don Guardian said he fully realized our “incredible dedication” to the Boardwalk Cats when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 and caused destruction throughout the area. The morning after the storm, no one was on the boardwalk other than the police—and Alley Cat Allies, caring for the cats.

“I want to thank you very much for taking interest in Atlantic City and showing how we can all live together on this earth and on this beach,” said Mayor Guardian. “We’re proud of our cats.”

After the award ceremony (which we livestreamed on Facebook), we held a reception for the volunteer caregivers we depend on to uphold the daily well-being of the cats. And they work hard—together, they put in more than 200 volunteer hours in May alone!

“The volunteers enjoyed meeting each other, many for the first time. And Alley Cat Allies staff loved the opportunity to talk with our volunteers,” says Matthew Wildman, our senior programs manager and cat behavior expert.

We want to again thank all the wonderful volunteers, city officials, and members of the Atlantic City community who helped us along the way. Because of them, the Boardwalk Cats Project—and the many cats it protects—can thrive.