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The Real Lives of Feral Cats

Two Baltimore-based photographers have been following the city's "community cats" with their cameras for over 5 years.

Elizabeth and Jason Putsché

Of the estimated 50 million feral cats currently living in the United States, 185,000 are thought to reside in the City of Baltimore. Photographers Elizabeth and Jason Putsché have encountered more than their fair share.

The duo have been following and photographing Baltimore's "community cats" for over five years now. From boat slips to rowhouses, the Putsché's have few problems finding their subjects, even beyond city limits. "We have found that cats live everywhere—suburban, urban, rural," Elizabeth tells us. "They are amazing at adapting to their surroundings."

(Elizabeth and Jason Putsché)
(Elizabeth and Jason Putsché)

Elizabeth also helped advocate for the city's current Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) policy, in place since 2009. It's an approach (the definition of which is right there in the name—feral cats are trapped, spayed or neutered, and then returned to the area they where they were found) that has gained popularity across the country in recent years and is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

As WMAR reported earlier this year, prior to the TNR policy being implemented, Baltimore residents who fed "community cats" were subject to citation. Animal advocates have long argued that such punitive policies only lead feral cats to roam longer distances in search of food, thus increasing call volumes at local Animal Control offices. Although it's difficult to tell just how much of an impact TNR has on feral cat populations, local SPCA officials have noted a reduction in shelter euthanasia rates.

(Elizabeth and Jason Putsché)
(Elizabeth and Jason Putsché)
(Elizabeth and Jason Putsché)
(Elizabeth and Jason Putsché)
(Elizabeth and Jason Putsché)

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