Joanna Caputa, Florida, United States

My first exposure to feral cats came in 1993, when I noticed a feral colony living in an empty overgrown lot. Just having moved to Florida, I’d never seen this phenomenon before, and became very concerned for their welfare. I’d never heard of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), but did manage to catch and spay one black kitten, who we named Pepper. She was our first feral and lived with us as an indoor/outdoor kitty for 14 years. Some 3 years later, I heard about TNR and Alley Cat Allies. I taught other caretakers and vets in our community about TNR practices and colony caretaking. Some dear friends who had been secretly feeding cats in that first colony eventually TNR’d 40+ cats there! We went on to teach others in our community and eventually saw TNR practices adopted throughout the area.

We still have one special kitty from my early trapping days. Lizzy lived in my husband’s office complex. She had kittens next to a nearby dental office where the staff knew of my TNR practices and asked for help. They rescued and found homes for the kittens while I trapped mama and got her fixed. When I went to release her, she just walked out of the cage and stood looking at me. I couldn’t bear to leave her there. Lizzy is probably somewhere between 16 and 20 years old now. She loves sleeping on the pool deck in the sunshine. She is a complete sweetheart. She lives with 6 others kitties who are all TNR and rescue cats.

Nowadays, I volunteer with Operation Catnip at UF, which offers free and low cost neuter/spay services to community cats in out area. I’m so grateful for everything Alley Cat Allies has done to advocate for community cats! Our world is a better place because of your mission.