Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Catnip Nation - A Documentary About Feral Cats and the People Who Take Care of Them

Cat Camp NYC, which took place this past March in Manhattan, turned out to be a very educational experience for me.  I was able to speak to people from all walks of the cat community, learning about their missions, values, and work. One of the people I had the pleasure of meeting was Tina Traster, the Producer and Director of the documentary film, Catnip Nation



When I was looking at the promotional materials for the film, I noticed they are located in Rockland County, NY where I was born and raised. This piqued my interest and made me very happy because many people don’t even know that Rockland County is on the map! I was so pleased to hear that a spotlight is being shone on the wonderful people whose tireless efforts improve the lives of homeless cats in my hometown. 

The film’s trailer brings me to tears. 





Catnip Nation has a campaign running on Seed & Spark to help fund the project. The production team has about a dozen shoots left before they move onto editing and post production. Here’s another video about the project. You’ll notice a very famous cat, Lil Bub, and her dad, Mike Bridavsky, supporting the film. (I got teary-eyed watching this as well.) 





There are several incentives you can choose to go along with your donation, ranging from a shout out on the Catnip Nation Facebook page to producer credits. Let’s help the Catnip Nation team reduce feline homelessness by making it easier and legal for colony caretakers help these cats!

Tina has written a guest post for my blog about Catnip Nation, and will be contributing a monthly update on the film’s progress. Please visit again to read more about this fantastic project. 
Dawn


Catnip Nation: The Documentary


Every day, no matter the weather, no matter what, Stony Point resident Andrea LeResche climbs into a tangled copse to feed a colony of cats. And Drazen Cackovic, a Nyack architect, steals time away from his blue prints, to care for a group of felines he keeps in his office. Meanwhile, Ken Salerno, a one-man cat whisperer, makes frequent visits to a New Jersey sanctuary, where he has relocated more than 60 beach cats who would have been rounded up from under the boardwalk in Seaside Heights and taken to shelters, or killed.



These are just some of the characters we meet in Catnip Nation, a full-length documentary that looks deep into the soul of a handful of unsung and unseen heroes who feed and care for feral cats. In some cases, the best-case scenario is for feral "colonies" to be fed, but also to be TNRed -- which means Trap Neuter Returned. Over time, a colony fades out, which is the goal: stopping the endless cycles of kitten births. TNR has been shown to be the proven way to deal with large populations of homeless cats. Nevertheless, it takes "a village" to condone and enable TNR. What our "characters" know all too well is that despite their best intentions, they are constantly dealing with adversity: angry neighbors, misguided animal control officers, apathetic or mercurial politicians, and development pressures. As we get to know our characters throughout the documentary, it becomes clear as to what makes them tick. Why they do what they do, and how they sustain themselves through such diversity.

The ASPCA estimates there are some 90 million cats living on the streets, in every community, nationwide. Some cities have adopted favorable TNR policies, but too many don't. Additionally, TNR only works if there is a collaboration of cooperation among colony caretakers, veterinarians, communities, public officials, etc. It really does take a village to endorse and enforce good rules for cat colony management. The alternative is bleak. Feral cats, by and large, remain unadoptable. When animal control officers round up cats and take them to shelters, that's the end of the line. These cats will get put down. Euthanizing healthy animals is inhumane, even if many see them as nuisances. Also, many times angry neighbors take matters into their own hands, poisoning or harming cats. This is illegal, yet it happens all the time. Education on TNR can slow down this injustice.



TNR-friendly communities have learned ways to mitigate the needs of everyone, feral cats included. Not everyone is cat-sympathetic -- although you'd never know it considering the cat-love we see everyday on the Internet and in popular culture at large. TNR is hard work, and we need to celebrate those who undertake this burden, often at their own expense, and their own peril. In a humane society, we take care of animals. We are hoping Catnip Nation will change hearts and minds on this subject. We're hoping cat lovers will help ignite a grassroots movement demanding a humane solution for feline homelessness. We need the conversation to be brought into the open; it needs to be aired, understood and addressed. 




Tina Traster is a socially-conscious, award-winning journalist, author, and filmmaker. Her 30-minute documentary, This House Matters, is an examination on historic preservation in the Hudson Valley. The film has screened at the YoFi Film Festival, the Kingston Film Festival, the Hoboken International Film Festival, and the Nyack Film Festival. Traster's work has appeared in scores of newspapers, magazines and literary journals including The New York Times, The New York Post, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, Redbook, Family Circle, Parade, Time Out New York, Audubon, Ski Magazine and many others. She is the author of the award-winning memoir Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother's Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder. Since 2006, Traster has written the "Burb Appeal"column for The New York Post.

36 comments:

  1. I'm so excited about this documentary!

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  2. Great post! Is this the same one that Melissa featured today? catchatwithcarenandcody

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  3. L & L; we hope this documentary gets the much needed attention it deserves; 984 paws UP to everyone involved in the making and 984 paws UP to those who care for our colony friends each and every day ~~~~ ♥♥♥

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  4. This looks like a great documentary. We hope it gets a lot of attention.

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  5. That is so wonderful and I'm thrilled that the feral cause is getting some attention!



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  6. We want to make sure we get to see this documentary. i'm so happy they chose this subject to work with. Thanks for featuring this in your blog. We are grateful!

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  7. I am glad these kitties are getting the attention the deserve. I would be too sad watching all these homeless cats.

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  8. I learned a year ago that locally, municipalities have an extermination policy. I thought TNR was standard and was horrified to find out it wasn't when one local municipality was the first to let a rescue in to do TNR. HORRIFIED! And the comments on the news story all were against the cats or "nuisances." My Bear Cat was one of those "nuisances" at one time ... and had he not found me, I would not be alive. Life isn't a nuisance. People justify extermination by saying cats are just instinct and don't feel. But my boy that I fed for a few weeks before bringing him inside didn't give two figs about the food. He just wanted to curl up in my lap for belly rubs. It ENRAGES me that people marginalize cats so completely!

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  9. I'm glad to see more and more documentaries being made about cats. This looks like it will be great. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. It's good there is more info being put out about feral cats!

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  11. I'm so happy to hear of these documentaries that are going to make a difference for cats! I'm off to check out the campaign. (Oh, and I've heard of Rockland County!)

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  12. This looks like an amazing documentary, and we're excited to see it is bringing attention to the people who work so tirelessly on behalf of homeless cats.

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  13. That sounds like an incredible documentary! We hope many people see it! It's important for people to learn about feral kitties and those who take care of them. Thanks for telling us about it!

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  14. OMG, the trailer totally pushed me over the edge. The cat who had been intentionally poisoned. Heartbreaking. We live right outside Chicago now, but when we were in the city we cared for a feral cat named, Buddy. He lived in our yard for years and then one day he disappeared. I looked everywhere for him, but couldn't find him. Three weeks before we moved he reappeared in our yard one morning. I was so relieved but then I realized he was badly hurt and had a large gash in his neck. Even though he was totally feral, I do believe he knew I would help him and so he came back to us. I trapped him (it took a week) and brought him to a clinic that does TNR. They had to put him under to look at his neck. The wound was so deep and infected that he couldn't be saved. The vet believed someone intentionally cut him him. It was horrible. I am just thankful that he came back when he did because had he come back three weeks later, we would have been gone. I will definitely make a donation in Buddy's name to the film - just need to wait for pay day!

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  15. Thank you, Dawn, for this most informative, thoughtful and important post. Mom will see what she can do to help the effort with some green papers. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Angel Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth, Calista Jo and Cooper Murphy

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  16. The realization of this documentary is so important to not only spread awareness of this worldwide issues but also to use as a teaching tool. Imagine if children were shown this documentary ...it would teach them compassion and so much more. We will ask our Mama for some green papers to help out.

    the critters in the cottage xo

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  17. I LOVE CATS, THEY HAVE A CHARACTER ,PLEASE WE NEED TO START NUTTER AND SPADE. TO AVOID OVERPOPULATION.
    THANKS,
    MARY

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  18. This looks like a really good documentary. I look forward to seeing it.

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  19. Here on the Jersey shore I can attest to the stray cat issue. Every year the owners of our beach club adopt out the new litter of kittens born to their feral female. Why they can't catch the female and spay her I have no idea. Documentaries like this will help to educate people about best practices for the animals. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

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  20. Delighted to learn more about this great cause--and the documentary. Thanks for sharing such uplifting news!

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  21. This documentary sounds awesome! There is so much that people don't know about the feral cat population in the US. I would love to see TNR being used in more places across the country.

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  22. It sounds like an interesting documentary. TNR is pretty vibrant here, I think. They're at odds with the Audubon folks sometimes though.

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  23. Oh this is so very pawesome!! Can not wait fur the documentary.

    xoxo,
    Matilda (& Matt)

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  24. TNR kitties hold a special place in my heart. So happy to learn about this project, wishing them great success and hope they can spread needed awareness on the subject.

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  25. I am so glad to see the spotlight shone on a solution. So many people complain and they don't do anything to help make a difference. I wish this film much success! TY for sharing it with us.

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  26. I love documentaries and wow is all I can say, these people are heroes for saving the feral cats and giving them some security

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  27. The hatred of some people is what reduces me to tears. Such dislike of one animal. I could hate every dog for the ones that killed Dash but I only have one life and I want to do good not ill.

    I wish I had money to help them all.

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  28. Thank you for sharing. Yes, I'm in tears after watching the videos. I admire those who give of themselves to work with feral cats and against those with such hatred.

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  29. This sounds like an amazing documentary. So great they are shining a light on feral cats and the people helping them.

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  30. What a wonderful project! It looks like an amazing documentary. It's always heartwarming to hear about how people are helping feral cats and contributing to TNR efforts. Thanks for sharing about the project!

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  31. It looks like a great documentary. I am always so impressed and grateful for people who make the world a better place!

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  32. I love that this film and The Cat Rescuers both focus on the homeless cats in the New York area. The best way to start to fix the problem is awareness that it exists! Thank you for linking up to the Showcase too!

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  33. Hi Lola, Hi Dawn. Being a rescued cat off the streets makes me very aware of the harsh realities of life on the street. Still all that said, this brought tears to my eyes and I wish the project gets to where it needs to show everyone what is out there and the folks that do all the work, and what they are up against. Great post!
    Purrs, ERin

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  34. Oh my mouses.. That was so touching. PURRS.

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  35. Sooooo needed. There are a lot of people in my community who understand and support those doing TNR, but it is frustrating when you meet someone who doesn't. Thanks for sharing this!


    Thanks for joining the Pet Blogger Showcase!

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  36. Wow Lola, thanks so much for sharing this. I'm so thankful for people who care for the Feral Cats. I can't believe how easily people dispose of animals, and am grateful there are those who can step up and help. I have a friend who does this in Melbourne, FL. It is a small feral community, but she feeds them and she traps and alters who she can. If we all pitch in in some small way, we can make a difference.

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