All across the nation, in communities large and small, Americans are joining together to care for cats. And there’s no better time than the holidays for community cat caregivers to celebrate their special bond.

As community cat caregivers, we belong to an important and meaningful extended family built upon compassion, the love of cats, and the common goal of saving their lives.

A perfect example is the family created by Frank, a long-time caregiver with Alley Cat Allies’ Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project. Frank is a lifelong resident of Atlantic City, and began caring for the community cats at the boardwalk many years ago. Over the years, the cats have become his family, as have the other volunteers who dedicate their time to the Boardwalk Cats. It’s a family of compassionate caregivers and the cats they care for.

We can all be inspired by Frank this holiday season. We can give thanks for the support we’ve received, the friends we’ve made, and the caregivers who have become part of our families through our shared work saving community cats. We can also give thanks for the relationships we’ve built with our neighbors, local veterinarians and shelter staff, and the politicians who help us bring Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) policies into our communities.

But the holidays would not be complete without the exchanging of gifts. Whether it is sharing the responsibility of colony care, supplying food, engaging with neighbors, educating the public about TNR, or helping create TNR programs, we provide gifts that create strong, healthy, compassionate communities. These are the gifts that truly keep on giving.

So let us come together, share a laugh, tell a story, honor our successes, and know we have a family of caregivers with whom we can celebrate the magical moments of caring for cats, and the true meaning of the holidays.

Happy Holidays, everyone.