Join the Expedition: Explore the ‘Mild Kingdom’ and Learn About Community Cats

Explore the ‘Mild Kingdom’ and Learn About Community Cats

Cats are adorable.

But, it turns out, they’re so much more. They are intelligent, unique and remarkable animals. 

In addition to reaching speeds of 30 miles per hour, cats can leap seven times their own height and have a sense of smell 14 times stronger than a human’s. A cat’s ears are like satellite dishes, it has outstanding night vision, and it is arguably the most endearing of all animals, using its cleverness to communicate directly to humans with purrs and meows. 

For all these reasons and more, the Ten Movement has dedicated the last eight years to creating a no-kill nation for cats in Greater Cincinnati. Cats famously have nine lives. As a nonprofit advocacy group, we aim to give cats an opportunity at a 10th life by making sure no cat is euthanized in a shelter. 

Founded by the Joanie Bernard Foundation in 2013, the Ten Movement was established so more of our feline friends have the opportunity to be their incredible, adorable and exceptional selves. 

The Ten Movement has done unbelievable work by promoting spay and neuter programs and providing support to Greater Cincinnati shelters, rescues and other like-minded organizations, raising the live-release rate (often referred to as the “no-kill rate,” or the percentage of cats that enter shelters and are released or adopted) from 37% in the region when the foundation began its work to more than 90% today. 

There’s still work to be done. Educating the public about community cats is the next step in the Ten Movement’s mission of achieving our goal of 100% live-release rate in the region. 

What’s a Community Cat?

Often called strays, community cats are cats without owners, and therefore need the community’s help. They are just as unique, adorable and amazing as your house cat. 

Some of these cats are lost or abandoned house pets, or they are feral, growing up outside of a home. Most can live fulfilling, healthy lives without owners as they roam through neighborhoods in groups or colonies, where they share food sources and groom each other. 

They mark their territory and always find their way home.

Some experts believe these cats rely on the angle of the sun or use magnetized cells in their brains as an internal compass. That’s why you always see them in the same area — maybe even in your backyard! 

Contrary to what many people think, community cats have existed outdoors alongside human beings for thousands of years. Only recently (in the past 70 years or so) have we brought cats indoors, due to innovations like kitty litter, refrigeration and spay/neuter practices.

Overall, there are approximately 700 million community cats in the United States. Some even have day jobs. About 200 community cats patrol the grounds at Disneyland, keeping the park rodent-free. 

37% — the live-release rate for cats in Greater Cincinnati when the Ten Movement began in 2013

>90% — the live-release rate today, thanks to the Ten Movement and its partners

Join the Mild Kingdom 

The Ten Movement’s latest campaign, Mild Kingdom, aims to educate the public on community cats, foster appreciation for the animals, and encourage residents to report strays and practice Trap Neuter Return (TNR) within their own neighborhoods. With the public’s help, community cats can coexist with humans in the communities they call home. 

Making sure these cats are spayed, neutered and vaccinated is critical to keeping community cat populations from growing larger and ensuring healthier lives for cats. Since community cats don’t have owners, it’s important for each of us to play our part to make it happen. When we do, it will bring us closer to the goal of a 100% live-release rate in Greater Cincinnati.  

You may have seen or heard Mild Kingdom TV and radio commercials, ads and billboards throughout the region featuring Ten Movement mascot Scooter the Neutered Cat. 

Scooter the Neutered Cat

Scooter became a viral sensation in 2013 following his initial campaign to raise awareness for spaying and neutering in Greater Cincinnati. Scooter has led several successful, edgy and irreverent campaigns to reduce feline overpopulation, including the recent “Cat Math” and “Talk to Your Cat About Sex” campaigns. 

The Mild Kingdom campaign satirizes nature documentaries; in the campaign, Safari Scooter encourages the public to join him on an expedition to seek out and help cats living in our communities. In the advertisements, a narrator gives a play-by-play of community cats in their natural habitat to build goodwill and awareness of these wonderful creatures. 

How You Can Help

Spaying and neutering is the most humane way to effectively control pet overpopulation in the no-kill nation, and community cats are no exception. Spaying and neutering will ensure that colony populations don’t become a nuisance to their communities, and that they never exceed available food sources, which would lead to starvation, disease and worse. 

Trap Neuter Return (TNR) is how we spay and neuter community cats. A caring community member or volunteer captures the cat in an approved, humane trap and brings it to a nearby spay/neuter clinic, where a veterinarian vaccinates and spays/neuters the cat painlessly before tipping its left ear. Finally, the volunteer returns the cat to the community for a successful reunion with its colony and habitat. 

Several Ten Movement partners offer low-cost spay/neuter options and free loanable traps to transport community cats. 

If you are feeding a community cat, please take the additional step to report it so we can make sure your feline friend is spayed or neutered, vaccinated and safely returned. 

Remember, if you see a cat with a tipped ear, someone in the community cared: the furry friend has already been spayed or neutered. Tipping the ear is a painless process done while the cat is under anesthesia.

Kitten Season Is Here 

We are deep in the heart of kitten season, which occurs naturally six to eight weeks after mating season. Many shelters and rescues are stretched to their limits during this time, so it is imperative we do our part to make sure they aren’t at capacity — so they can continue to help cats who truly need it. 

Scan the Mild Kingdom in your backyard to see if any community cats have tipped ears. Report any community cats without tipped ears so they can be spayed/neutered and returned. 

The Benefits of Spay/Neuter

  • Spaying and neutering can extend a cat’s life. Neutered males live an average of 62% longer and spayed females an average of 39% longer. 
  • Certain types of cancers, including ovarian and testicular, are virtually eliminated by spay/neuter.
  • Spayed or neutered cats do not spray, fight, roam or yowl as much. Your neighbors will thank you. 
  • Valuable space in shelters and clinics is opened up with every cat that has been spayed or neutered. Sick or injured cats stand a better chance of survival with the proper care and treatment available at a shelter. 

If you truly love cats and want a furry companion, it’s also the perfect time to consider fostering or adopting. 

To join the Mild Kingdom expedition, visit MildKingdom.org to learn more. Then, begin the search in your neighborhood for community cats. You can report them via our website or by calling (513) 644-5600. Volunteers are always needed with TNR efforts; visit the Mild Kingdom website to learn how you can help us build a no-kill nation.

Thank you for joining our expedition and sharing our love and appreciation of cats. 

Deborah Cribbs is the chair of the Board of Trustees for the Joanie Bernard Foundation and the Ten Movement. Thanks in part to her leadership, the Ten Movement has produced tremendous results, moving the live-release rate for cats from 37% in 2013 to more than 90% in Greater Cincinnati today. She considers herself the mother of Scooter the Neutered Cat and is committed to continuing to educate the public until there is a 100% no-kill nation for cats in Cincinnati and beyond. 

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