Mr. Grey’s Strays
Mr. Grey’s Strays came into being completely by chance. One cold winter day in 2013 I saw an elderly lady with a walker trying to navigate an icy hill in the village of Brockport. I pulled over to offer her a ride. She said no, but because I was worried she might fall, she allowed me to walk with her.
And that’s where our story started. The woman was on her way to the place where she fed her beloved outside cats. Of course, I knew nothing about outside cats or why she was feeding them out behind the bank. Why would anyone bother, I wondered. I got the answer to my question as I fed those cats for her all winter. I became so attached to them––they seemed to know the sound of my car and waited for me to come near. And they were the ones who decided how close I could come, not me. Later on, a bad winter storm hit and there were no cats waiting for me. I looked for them for days. I couldn’t believe how much I loved something that I couldn’t even touch.
From that day on, I have been entirely focused on learning everything I can about helping these animals that tugged so hard at my heart.
My vocabulary grew—terms like “feral cats,” “free roaming,” “TNVR,” and “vacuum effect” cropped up in nearly every conversation I had. I made huts for winter and donated them to fellow colony caretakers. I met with many veterinarians and other cat activists and rescues. As I learned the ins and outs of TNVR protocol, my knowledge expanded rapidly.
My name started to spread as the woman who could trap the un-trappable. Then Mr. Grey, a very feral cat, came into my life. He had been living outside for years with terrible eye infections and was in extremely poor health. He was a cat that most people would have euthanized, but with the help of the veterinarians at Cats Exclusively I was able to medicate him and coax him back to health. I’m not sure who was luckier, Mr. Grey or me because of all the love I felt for him. After many surgeries, he recovered. He became quite famous and popular as everyone enjoyed following his progress as he regained his strength and learned to trust people. Articles about him were published in the Democrat & Chronicle and online.
Mr. Grey’s fame helped bring about new legislation in the Village of Brockport that ensures free-roaming cats will be safe. Many cats have been kept out of shelters where they surely would have been euthanized.
After years on my own, I am proud and honored to have many supporters and volunteers who help me in this important work. And now that Mr. Grey’s Strays is a New York not-for-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) status, we are able to do so much more for these animals that, through no fault of their own, find themselves in life-threatening situations.
I am so proud of all that we have accomplished, and I’m looking forward to continuing our work as advocates for feral cats and educating the public about TNVR.
Who would ever have thought that a certified dog trainer would become the crazy cat lady?
Joane Traber, Founder