Each year approximately 860,000 cats are euthanized in shelters across the country. Sadly, many of these animals are healthy and simply need someone to care for them. Organizations like Project Meow work within communities and neighborhoods to help reduce the stray population through safe spay/neuter services, medical care, and rehoming services.
Founded in 2002, Project MEOW (Make Every One Wanted) embarked on a mission to help stray cats in need and to help reduce the stray population through humane catch, neuter, return, and manage (CNRM) programs. See also, TRN programs.
April Smith has been with Project MEOW for one year and works as a cat care volunteer.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the aims of Project Meow.
A: We try to make sure that every cat in West Philadelphia who needs a home can find one! We catch cats who are on the streets, subject to the dangers of weather, starvation, predators and more, and get them spayed/neutered, proper veterinary care, lots of food and water, and lots of love in either our fosters or our small facility where I volunteer weekly.
Q: I see that Project Meow does extensive catch, neuter, release work—but adds “management” to that list. What forms might that take?
A: Management refers to how we care for cats in foster homes or at our facility until we can find them suitable “furr-ever” homes.
Q: Tell me about your personal responsibilities at Project Meow.
A: I volunteer in the small place we lovingly call “the garage”–every Monday night at 6pm with a fellow volunteer. We clean all the cages and traps, feed all the cats and get them water, and let them out of their cages (if they are friendly and safe for play)! We do a lot of petting and cuddling, attempting to socialize and comfort these cats. Our favorite part is all the kissing and purring we get, as well as giving hungry cats seconds of wet food!
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: I volunteer once a week, for about an hour and a half to two hours—starting with cages, food and water. Depending on the number of cats we have, we do some social play, which helps acclimate them to being handled as pets.
Q: Cat colonies (communities of un-homed or feral cats) are all too common in big city neighborhoods like West Philly. Tell us a little about PM’s efforts to tackle this problem.
A: We try to trap and neuter/spay as many as we can. These days we find that most of the cats we trap are not truly feral. They were clearly someone’s cat…abandoned. They do not know how to fend for themselves on the streets, and they are desperate for love and cuddling—and food, water, and veterinary care.
We place them in foster or permanent homes as fast as we can! Some are microchipped. However, it’s heartbreaking when we call a person who had their cat microchipped and they deny ever having had the cat. It’s sad, but what is gratifying is how much we can love on these kitties and make them happy, even while they’re waiting for new homes.
Q: How easy is it to adopt a cat through Project Meow?
A: We are careful in how we screen applicants for cat adoptions, but the process is fairly quick. We want to make sure our kitties get safe and excellent homes. We also send some cats to suburban rescues around Philadelphia.
West Philadelphia is a relatively low income area, and many cat people here are already at capacity. It’s wonderful when we see a picture of one of our West Philly street cats in a big suburban house with an adoring family all cuddling them. The American dream for cats!
Author’s Note: Project Meow is a nonprofit that relies on donations, grants, and a healthy supply of eager volunteers. It’s programs help reduce feline overpopulation, provide medical care to cats in need, and offer adoption services to help each cat find its forever home. If you live in the Philadelphia area and want to get involved, contact Project Meow at projectmeow.org.
We encourage you to spay or neuter your pet and to stay current with all recommended vaccines and wellness visits. And we applaud the tireless volunteers like April who give their time and their hearts to the welfare of animals.