Saturday, February 25, 2017

Help is on the way for Nashville's Community Cats

February is Spay & Neuter Awareness Month and this year Mars Petcare and Pet Community Center are joining forces to provide humane care for nearly 2,500 local community cats.

Community cats are outdoor, free-roaming cats that have lived near us for more than 10,000 years. They have strong bonds with one another and with their established outdoor homes. With support from community cat programs, they can live full, happy lives in our communities.

Mars Petcare will fund Pet Community Center's Community Cat Program, which focuses on spay and neuter efforts of the community cat population as a critical way to lower the number of cats entering local shelters.

The Community Cat Program uses proven tactics such as Trap-Neuter-Return and Return-to-Field programs, through which Pet Community Center vaccinates and spays or neuters community cats, returning cats to their home environment once complete.

"Pet Community Center is deeply committed to strengthening the human-animal bond in Middle Tennessee. The Community Cat Program has been an important part of our strategy to lower pet homelessness and shelter euthanasia," said Pet Community Center's President and CEO, Natalie Corwin.

"We are thrilled to partner with Mars Petcare to expand this program, strengthen our partnership with Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control, support more cat caretakers, and positively impact more cats,"

The program was created based on best practices developed by national animal welfare organizations and in consultation with leaders in cities where community cat programs have been successfully implemented.

Mars Petcare and its employees are getting involved through two of its signature volunteer programs – Mars Volunteer Program, an ongoing initiative to encourage associates to give back to their communities and the Mars Ambassador Program, which provides in-depth service opportunities for Mars associates worldwide.

This year, a group of associates from Mars brands around the world will travel to Middle Tennessee to spend time on this project, learning how spay and neuter programs and housing colonies can improve the lives of community cats.

Mars Petcare employees will also volunteer to help build 100 feeding stations and 100 housing shelters throughout the year, which will be distributed in the winter across a network of cat colony caretakers, providing community cats with shelter and relief from the elements.

"Our team is committed to making Nashville a more pet-friendly city as part of our Better Cities for Pets program," said Jam Stewart, director of corporate communications for Mars Petcare. "Caring for community cats is one more way we can do that."

Since its inception in 2011, Pet Community Center has served nearly 10,000 community cats, reduced the number of stray cats entering Metro Animal Care and Control (MACC) by 44 percent since 2014 and contributed to the plummeting of euthanasia of cats from 85 percent in 2013 to 19 percent in 2016.

In efforts to further the positive change in Nashville, Mayor Megan Barry established an ad-hoc animal welfare advisory committee that has been working over the last year to develop a metro-wide strategy around animal welfare. Through the Mayor's Public Investment Plan in 2016, the community cat program, a partnership between Pet Community Center and MACC was allocated $100,000 of city funding.

"Animal welfare is a quality of life issue, and one that's deeply important to Nashville residents," said Mayor Barry. "By working together to care for and protect the most vulnerable animals, we're heading down a path that will allow us to better serve the healthy and adoptable pets and reduce animal overpopulation and euthanasia."

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