After more than 18 years, Alley Cat Allies’ Boardwalk Cats Project® still brings pride and joy to staff members, volunteers, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, residents. This week, Alley Cat Allies hosted our semi-annual boardwalk cleanup to get the beloved Boardwalk Cats’ under-the-boardwalk homes clean and ready for the warm weather.
“The cleanup group was perfect and so was the weather! We were able to get so many areas cleaned for the cats,” says Heather Fagan, Alley Cat Allies’ Program Manager for New Jersey Operations. “It ended as nice as it started, with all of us on a beautiful, clean beach. It was a positive experience and all the volunteers said they want to help out at the next cleanup job!”
Since the Boardwalk Cats Project began in 2000, Alley Cat Allies staff and volunteers have worked together to humanely trap, spay and neuter, vaccinate, eartip, and return more than 350 community cats to their outdoor homes. The Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) effort is a city-supported and citizen-endorsed model of success.
Thanks to our efforts, the boardwalk’s community cat population has decreased by more than 72 percent over the years. Most of the cats in the area are now well into their teen years! They are living happy, healthy lives outdoors in their colonies and have steady caregivers who provide food, water, shelter, and medical care when needed.
Alley Cat Allies appreciates the volunteers and caregivers, past and present, who’ve helped to make the Boardwalk Cats Project such a success over the years. One of those volunteers is Gigi Greaux, who joined the Boardwalk Cats Project in 2015. “I was so ready to have cats be a part of my life and do something I thought mattered,” she says.
Rain or shine, Greaux would monitor the cats’ health, keep their shelters clean, and provide Alley Cat Allies-supplied food and fresh waterplus the occasional treats. From the friendly cats who weaved between her legs and vied for her attention to the unsocialized cats who awaited her arrival but avoided her touch, Greaux formed strong bonds with them all. She learned so much about these independent cats from volunteering, and loved each of their unique habits and personalities.
“I loved going and being with them,” says Greaux. “Cats take you for what you are, they don’t judge, and they appreciate every little thing and you. And I felt that.”
Alley Cat Allies thanks the many volunteers who’ve been our reliable partners in caring for the cats over the years. We are deeply proud of their commitment and compassion.