and visitors strut their stuff for feral cats
By ANNE C.
temperatures, about 67 locals and visitors turned out for the Second
Annual Cat Walk 5K on Wednesday, June 1, at the Kinnakeet Shores pool
area in Avon.
Participants in the 5K could walk, run, or bike the course that wormed
around the paved streets behind Food Lion.
The price of admission was simple -- either a bag of cat food or a
financial contribution to the Friends of Felines Cape Hatteras Island,
which is the non-profit organization that hosted the event.
According to event organizer Claudia Laskow, “We are so
$577 was donated (along with) 210 pounds of dry food and 21 cans of
wet! A lot of mouths will be fed!”
People of all ages and physical ability took part in the 5K
challenge. Coolers of cold bottled water were available to
person doing the race.
Two local women, Cheryl Barlow and Fran Hageman, dressed up for the
race by pinning cat ears made from material into their hair.
Costumes were encouraged, but most folks were all business.
Six baby kittens also made it to the event in search of a loving
home. Kittens born of feral parents can make wonderful pets
they are handled when they are young. All of these babies
pretty tame, and the children loved holding them. At least
handsome orange fellow was adopted during the fundraiser.
There is a large feral cat population on Hatteras Island, and Debbie
Martin, the director of the Friends of Felines, made it her personal
goal to help the area’s feral cats more than 20 years ago.
A feral cat is usually a descendant of a domesticated cat that has been
returned to the wild and is different from a stray cat that was once
someone’s pet but got lost or abandoned.
“We are making a dent,” Debbie Martin said of the numbers of feral cats
on the island.
Friends of Felines is a no-kill organization that traps, neuters and
releases (TNR) feral cats back to the area. The group has a
working relationship with area vets and with the North Carolina State
University School of Veterinary Medicine. TNR is a practice
is endorsed by the human society.
Martin explains that the group targets an area and concentrates on
neutering as many cats as they can in that one area. When a
colony is established, these cats will not allow any new cats to join
them. Colonies, also know as clowders, generally range in
from three to 25 cats that live together in a specific location and
share a common food source.
Cats that have been neutered and returned to their colony will have a
notch in their ear.
Over the years, the once Avon-based group has expanded its territory
and now covers the entire area from Rodanthe to Hatteras
In 2006, the group applied for and received non-profit status which
allows the organization to apply for grants and also allows donors to
receive a tax benefit for charitable donations.
The concept of trap, neuter, and release came to the United States in
the 1970s from England. In Washington, D.C., there is a very
large organization dedicated to helping feral cats called the Alley Cat
Friends of Felines sponsors two yard sales a year in Avon to raise
money and even marches in the annual Christmas parade in Hatteras
village to bring awareness of the cause. You can also find
at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras village on the
second Saturday of the summer months.
But, the craziest way that they raise money is through the Meowy
Masterpieces which are sold at the Avon Art Show in June, July, and
August. A colorful array of acrylic paints are squirted onto
heavy paper and covered with plastic. A cat is then placed on
plastic, and the masterpiece takes shape as the animal walks around on
How purrfect is that?
You can get more information about Friends of Felines Cape Hatteras
Island and contact the group on its Facebook
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