Feral cats have been part of urban life since humans first established cities—and have been misunderstood for probably just as long. But a Parkville couple is working to change that.
In July 2014, married photographers Elizabeth and Jason Putsche founded a nonprofit, Photographers for Animals, which advocates on behalf of animals via photography and videography projects. One current project is a still-untitled documentary about Baltimore’s wild felines that they hope will correct a few misperceptions.
Contrary to popular belief, says Elizabeth, 34, a lifelong animal lover who has worked for several animal-rescue organizations, the cats are hearty and adaptable, but still face challenges, including some from well-meaning humans.
Because feral cats are essentially wild animals, they are not adoptable, “so when you take them to a shelter, they’re held for the mandatory period, and then they’re killed. So to have cats not go into shelters at all is ideal,” explains Elizabeth.
For this reason, the couple champions the trap-neuter-return method (TNR), in which feral cats are caught, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and then rereleased.
With their documentary, which they hope to debut in late 2015, the Putsches want to bolster public sentiment by introducing viewers to feral cat caregivers who feed and shelter the animals without making them “pets.”
“There are a lot of people who take care of these cats who you think aren’t being taken care of,” says Jason, 37.
These people often contradict the “crazy cat lady” stereotype, which the couple thinks is an obstacle to TNR acceptance. “There are nurses, law professors, young and old, everyone,” Elizabeth says. “We want to make it more approachable and like a new way to help animals.”