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Cats & Birds, a Year in Review

Cats & Birds, a Year in Review

The end of February marks the first anniversary of our work on the issues around cats and birds!

In one short year, we’ve set up an amazing network of partners across the country. National partners such as Bird Studies Canada, Earth Rangers & the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies each bring unique expertise & perspective to the table. Our list of regional and local partners has grown too, and now includes not only the founding provincial partners, but also wildlife rehabilitation centres, cat rescues, land trusts and bird observatories.

All our partners are essential to successfully creating a Canada that is safer for cats & birds, and each one is a voice for change in their community. Our partners have created resources as varied as Local Governments Brief on the issue to DIY Cat Shelf (a wall-mounted shelf cats seem to love). They have participated in municipal advocacy efforts, shared Cats & Birds posts on their social media feeds, distributed brochures, postcards & bookmarks, recruited local partners and generally helped spread the Safe Cats, Safe Birds word. The national campaign created several resources for cat-owners, as well as a number for use by specific types of partners. One example is a handout for humane societies to use when an owner reclaims a lost cat, Never Lose Your Cat Again; another is for wildlife rehabilitators to use when someone brings in a bird that has been injured by their cat. These difficult situations are invaluable ‘teachable moments’, opportunities that mustn’t be lost.

But there is one partner who’s done more than any other to get the public’s attention, and that’s Margaret Atwood. September saw the publication of Angel Catbird, her first ever graphic novel. Published by Dark Horse Comics in tandem with our campaign, Angel Catbird earned more than 1500 media mentions in 2016, most of which referred to the website at http://catsandbirds.ca. Here are a few highlights:

“A comic book with a conscience … statistics appear in banners throughout the novel …. highlighting the potential dangers to [cats] … as well as the harm they can cause to birds.” — CBC

“The book is peppered with statistics on the dangers outdoor cats face, as well as how they contribute to bird deaths and the environmental impact of declining songbird populations.” – Metro News

“Atwood seeks to make “Angel Catbird” more than a standard superhero fable but a comic book with conscience, using the format as a way to bring awareness to bird conservation.” – CTV News

There was also a lot of international coverage, prompting several calls for other countries to adopt our approach:

“Ms. Atwood…is using the book to raise awareness for Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives, a program led by Nature Canada, the oldest conservation charity in the country.” – NY Times

“The project, which is being published in association with conservation charity Nature Canada’s Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives initiative …” – The Guardian

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s Angel Catbird! … The graphic novel is also a part of a Nature Canada initiative, Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives, to help raise awareness about animal rights and protect wildlife.” – Buzzfeed

The second volume of Angel Catbird, To Castle Catula, comes out on Valentine’s Day, and Volume 3, The Catbird Roars, will be published in July.

This coming year we will focus on creating a school program to educate children about the issue; continue building our pilot in Guelph and initiating another in Edmonton; launch a municipal prize in recognition of progressive cat policies; and revise our approach to the pledge on our website. Instead of asking cat owners to keep their cats from roaming at large, we will ask all Canadians to join us in making Canada safe for cats and birds. Follow up emails will then suggest specific actions for the various categories of people – cat owners will be invited to explore healthy alternatives to letting their cats roam at large, and non-cat-owners will be asked to spread the word in other ways. After all, keeping cats and birds safe is an issue for all Canadians, not just those who have cats.

Come join the movement! Take the pledge. Volunteer. Advocate. Help Keep Cats Safe & Save Bird Lives.