In late October, a series of three different fires were set to an outdoor cat shelter along a pier in South Philadelphia. While no reports of cat injuries or deaths related to the fires have been reported, the outdoor shelter—which houses dozens of homeless cats from the region—has been completely destroyed.
The Stray Cat Relief Fund (SCRF), a volunteer-based rescue group that provides food, shelter, and medical attention (including Trap-Neuter-Return) to abandoned cats in Philadelphia, is working with local police and fire departments, as well as the Pennsylvania SPCA, to investigate this heinous act of animal endangerment and cruelty.
Alexa Ahrem, who serves on the board of the Stray Cat Relief Fund, told petMD that three kittens were rescued from the first fire just in the nick of time and have since been placed into foster care.
Though two other outdoor shelter areas along the waterfront remain, the loss of this shelter is a major blow to the cat communities that live, sleep, and eat there. In order to help with the recovery, the Stray Cat Relief Fund has set up a GoFundMe page to aid with must-need resources, such as new outdoor cat structures, lighting, and security cameras. (To date, the page has already surpassed its goal of $20,000.)
Tragically, arson attacks aren't the only risks these cats are facing. Ahrem said that strays in the South Philadelphia neighborhood have been tortured and killed, so stopping the crimes and getting the cats their resources is of the utmost importance.
"Cats are not going anywhere, and these outdoor colonies are vital to population control," Ahrem said. "Organizations like SCRF provide compassionate, humane population control by way of food and medical care, as well as neutering and spaying cats to either return outside or enroll in the foster care network for adoption."
When cat colonies are well-maintained, Ahrem said they will "eventually dissipate over time" and that these colonies and those who manage them humanely are "of great service to the city."
Image via Stray Cat Relief Fund Facebook