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The Beloved Boardwalk Cats of Atlantic City and the Alley Cat Allies

Updated on August 8, 2017
Casey White profile image

Dorothy McKenney is a lover of all things feline. Mike loves dogs, but she remains married to him anyway. :)

The beloved cats of the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ, are protected and fed by a group called The Alley Cat Allies and other volunteers who assist in a program of trap-neuter-return that began in 2000.
The beloved cats of the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ, are protected and fed by a group called The Alley Cat Allies and other volunteers who assist in a program of trap-neuter-return that began in 2000. | Source

How the Alley Cat Allies Saved the Boardwalk Cats

The Alley Cat Allies love the boardwalk cats of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and because of a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program, they have managed to naturally reduce what could have become an out-of-control population by 71 percent.

No one really knows how long ago the cats first appeared and have been living in the boardwalk area, but no new kittens have been born there since the TNR program began, and there are just over 130 cats that live there - (some feral/some stray). The program has been running successfully since 2000, the same year animal control authorities ordered that the cats all be rounded up and killed. Thanks to the Alley Cat Allies stepping in, however, a horrible fate was prevented for the feline population perfectly content to coexist (mostly from a comfortable distance) with the people of Atlantic City who have come to accept them.

Volunteers, and members of Alley Cat Allies pick up trash at the home of the boardwalk cats of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Volunteers, and members of Alley Cat Allies pick up trash at the home of the boardwalk cats of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Clean-Up Must Be Done

Once a year, the group - the world’s largest advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats - conducts a clean-up of the area, picking up trash, repairing feeding stations, and refurbishing cat shelters. On the most recent cleanup in 2017, a group of 18 volunteers filled 37 trash bags in the outdoor "home" of the feline residents of the boardwalk.

Several years ago, the group launched National Feral Cat Day, a day of action and public education. Since that time, the group has promoted and coordinated about 1,300 events worldwide.

Outdoor Cats Can Live Long, Healthy Lives

Many of the boardwalk cats are in their teens, living proof that cats can live long and healthy lives outdoors; and these famous cats draw visitors and cat-lovers from all over the country. Some people believe indoor cats, on average, live ten years longer than outdoor cats, but the boardwalk cats are proving to be an exception to that thought.

People feeding feral cats should not mistake familarity with affection; they will become  aggressive and lash out if threatened or cornered (signs of aggression include ears back and eyes dilated). Stray cats may be approachable; feral cats are not.
People feeding feral cats should not mistake familarity with affection; they will become aggressive and lash out if threatened or cornered (signs of aggression include ears back and eyes dilated). Stray cats may be approachable; feral cats are not. | Source

The Difference Between Stray and Feral Cats

According to an illustrated guide by the Alley Cat Allies entitled Feral and Stray Cats - An Important Difference: "If a cat you don’t know approaches you or if you can touch her, she is most likely not feral. Not all stray cats will do this though, especially at first - each cat will act differently in a variety of situations. More monitoring using these guidelines may be necessary to determine if the cat is socialized."

This is an outstanding guide, and should be read by anyone who is in doubt about a particular cat. Feral cats may recognize their caregiver, but that still does not make them a good candidate for a pet, so a person feeding a feral cat should not expect that cat to be adoptable.

If you are interested in becoming an advocate for cats but are unsure about the ordinances regarding cats in your area, the Alley Cat Allies suggests you follow the downloadable guide in their "Advocacy Toolkit," which will (according to their website) "provide the basics in citizen lobbying and prepare you to advocate for humane policies for cats".

Even Stray Cats Can Be Playful

The boardwalk cats of Atlantic City are feral or stray, but they are adored by many who are happy to feed and care for them on a daily basis. This particular one is probably a stray and would welcome a petting.  Most, however, are feral.
The boardwalk cats of Atlantic City are feral or stray, but they are adored by many who are happy to feed and care for them on a daily basis. This particular one is probably a stray and would welcome a petting. Most, however, are feral.

Kitty Litter Allowed Us to Keep Cats Inside Our Homes

The product that we have come to know as Kitty Litter was invented only about 60 years ago by Edward Lowe of St. Paul, Minnesota, and until that time all cats were forced to be "outside" cats. Cat lovers worldwide embraced the product, which was used in an indoor feces and urine collection box for cats (and some other animals) and by the time of his death, his company was worth about half a billion dollars.

Hope for Kittens of Feral Cats

If you find kittens that have been born to a feral cat in your area, they can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes, but grown feral cats are not adoptable.

© 2017 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

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