So what is a colony cat?
A colony cat (feral cat) is a cat too “wild” to domesticate. Feral cats are born outdoors having little to no human contact or are formerly domesticated cats that have been discarded or become lost. When one or more of these cats congregate, a colony is formed.
The Guardian Angels Animal Protection program is moving ahead, full speed. Started by Nancy Regula Esq., a cat colony caretaker for over 10 years in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, this program was started to help some of the most vulnerable and voiceless members of our society – animals. Study after study has shown that those who abuse animals are more likely to abuse people. So one of the earliest ways to combat the rise of crime in society against people is to stop abuse against animals.
Animal Protection is a natural extension of the Guardian Angels philosophy – WE NOT ME. This slogan recognizes that individuals acting alone cannot provide a lasting, effective solution. The focus must always be on building partnerships with similarly motivated groups and working collectively to achieve those goals.
The first program initiated by Guardian Angels Animal Protection was building outdoor housing to give to those caring for cat colonies. By helping those already carrying out the essential task of daily colony care we are helping build relationships in communities and getting inroads to learn about the animal issues unique to each neighborhood. Providing shelter to cats during winter months reduces stress & illness, helping cats live longer. One of the greatest stressors on cats is inclement weather. Compared to domesticated cats that lives on average to 14 yrs. The lifespan of a feral cat is just 4!
Why is managing a colony important?
A colony is a managed group of feral cats. A colony is managed by a “caretaker” – a dedicated individual who spays/neuters the cats, feeds them daily and provides shelter for inclement weather. Colonies serve many important functions:
- Cats are a great way of keeping rat and mice populations in check; just the scent of cats increase stress levels in rodents to the point of infertility. This alleviates the need for rodent repellants which are highly toxic to both humans & the environment. In New York City, the Javitz Center employs feral cats to control the rodent population. (http://dnain.fo/2eO5eyU) In Chicago the Cats at Work program has proven to be 100% effective at repelling rodents! (http://trib.in/1XlngVa). In Paris, into which rats carried the Bubonic plague that claimed 1/3 of the population in the 19th century, the city is again being overrun by rats. Toxic chemicals once used to stifle growth are no longer permitted (http://nyti.ms/2itVtr4). And in cities throughout the United States, (http://bit.ly/2hXvKn3) rats are out of control!
- Colony caretakers are responsible for getting cats spayed & neutered. This keeps populations stable, and ferals out of shelters, where they disproportionally get euthanized.
- Caring for colony cats is also a way to teach children empathy toward living creatures, particularly a problem for children whose parents are from 3rd world countries where animals are viewed more akin to property. This program helps children appreciate that all lives are to be respected.