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Three simple ways to celebrate National Cat Day

The holidays are just around the corner. And this year, with carefully considered travel plans and socially distanced get-togethers, is going to be vastly different than years past. In the meantime, though, there’s one holiday that we can celebrate without changing our routines much at all: National Cat Day, October 29.

I can’t help you navigate the holidays later this year, but I’ve got some thoughts about National Cat Day. This is a holiday tailor-made for a pandemic — no stressful travel and no masks required. And buying gifts online offers an added bonus: boxes, which the cats will probably prefer over what’s in them.

According to the American Pet Products Association, there are about 85 million pet cats in the U.S. That doesn’t include the many community cats who make their homes in our neighborhoods, often with more than one caregiver looking after them. With so many cats, there ought to be lots to celebrate, right? And there is. For example, I just learned that Shadow Cats, a Best Friends Network partner in Round Rock, Texas, raised more than $85,000 during this year’s Strut Your Mutt — which may very well make the group the top fundraiser nationally. (There’s something poetic about an organization dedicated to cats taking top honors in an event presumably named for dogs!)

At the same time, we know that nearly 70% of the animals killed in U.S. shelters are cats. As I wrote earlier this month, we all have a role to play in expanding the programs that we know improve lifesaving for cats — trap-neuter-return (TNR) and return-to-field (RTF) in particular. Among the greatest barriers is the steady stream of misinformation, some of which has persisted for decades.

You want to celebrate National Cat Day? Here are three simple ways:

  • Consider becoming an advocate for all cats. You can start by signing up for Best Friends’ Action Network, which will keep you informed about relevant legislation in your area and make it easy to contact your elected officials.
  • You can also join our 2025 Action Team to connect with other advocates in your community.
  • Get the facts. The best advocates are well-informed ones. Even folks who’ve been involved with animal welfare for years sometimes get tripped up by the persistent myths about cats.

That last point is worthy of its own blog post, but here I want to touch on just a few key points.

I wish I had a dollar for every social media post claiming that two unsterilized cats and their offspring can produce more than 400,000 cats in seven years. Think about that for a minute: If cats could truly reproduce at this rate, you’d have to step over dozens of them each morning just to get to your car! The underlying intention is noble — to encourage spay/neuter — but I’ve always wondered if this message might actually backfire. If this is what we’re up against, won’t people think it’s hopeless?

Another persistent myth reared its ugly head just last week, during the presidential debate when the topic of wind energy came up. In fact-checking the debate, CBS News referred viewers to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website claiming that cats are the leading cause of bird deaths in the U.S. These “estimates” were, in fact, discredited long ago. (As it happens, they can’t even be reconciled with more recent estimates provided by another of the sources cited by CBS News.)

On the one hand, the estimates themselves are a distraction more than anything else. Whatever the true numbers are, the science is clear: There are only two ways proven to reduce a population of free-roaming cats: targeted TNR or a full-blown eradication campaign, the latter of which, it turns out, is likely to fail or even backfire.

On the other hand, perpetuating this myth fuels a debate that, ironically, tends to hamper efforts to sterilize more cats. This, in turn, impedes efforts to reduce community cat populations — a goal shared by the animal welfare and conservation communities.

Again, the best advocates are well-informed advocates. To help you bust some of the most common myths, we’ve compiled an extensive collection of online resources. You might also check out the National Feline Research Council for reader-friendly summaries of some of the key issues.

I encourage you to get involved and get the facts. Together, we can all be better advocates for cats. Happy National Cat Day!

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Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society Julie Castle
CEO
Best Friends Animal Society