NEW YORK (CBSNew York) A new children's book is teaching kids about Big Apple feral and stray cats.
'The Cats On My Block' is written by Valerie Sicignano, an animal welfare veteran and co-founder of the New York City Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, with illustrations by award winning graphic designer Jayne Sayre Denny.
The book tells the story of some kids who meet community cat caretaker Keith, who explains how he feeds and provides shelter to the cats. He also explains "Trap-Neuter-Return" (TNR), a process by which the cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and left-eartipped to identify them as having been "fixed", and then returned them to their outdoor home. A glossary of feral "catology" offers readers a vocabulary that broads their understanding of the cats.
"Through the book", Sicignano told 1010 WINS, "we meet each of the cats and learn about their relationships, and how Keith is a good neighor, by taking care of the cats".
She adds that while when the NYC Feral Cat Inititative was first formed ten years ago, most street cats in the city were feral. Now, sadly, many are abandoned housepets. "If that cat is not sterilized, it can go onto breed. The kittens have never been handled by humans, and grow up to be feral or have wild behaviors, and those cats cannot go into a shelter and be adopted into an indoor home."
Sicignano says part of the mission of TNR includes getting friendly cats adopted, and socializing kittens so they too can find homes. While that immediately reduces the number of animals, the remaining ones can no longer reproduce. In addition, unwanted mating behaviors, including yowling and spraying, immediately cease.
The NYC Feral Cat Initiative offers workshops in both TNR and socializing kittens. Sicignano says they also accept donations to fund teams of volunteers that respond to special TNR requests.
The Cats On My Block is available at Amazon.com: http://bit.ly/TheCatsOnMyBlock.
You can get more information on volunteering or donating, at www.NYCFeralCat.org.
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