October 16 is Alley Cat Allies National Feral Cat Day!
You can celebrate by caring for stray/feral cats where you live...If you're in the Chicago (or really anywhere) a great resource is Tree House Humane Society Feral Friends Program. And Alley Cat Allies is a superb resource as well, as the nation's leading advocate for feral cats, and Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR).
Here's a story I wrote about TNR, featuring Chicago's own Tree House Humane Society and Alley Cat Allies.
This is TNR 101: Feral cats have been around for centuries and the old technique, complaint driven, of animal control (when called) to come out to trap and kill simply doesn't work. It never has worked. And most people in the community don't like the option.
TNR is a pretty simple premise really. Trap the cats humanely. Nearly always this means a colony of cats, so it can take a bit of time. Have the cats spay/neutered and vaccinated for rabies. Now, they can no longer reproduce and by being vaccinated for rabies, this lessens a public health risk. In some communities (including Chicago) the cats are mircrochipped. If there are any very ill cats, they are humanely euthanized. Little kittens go to a shelter to be adopted. Those returned to the colony are identified with ear notches so any new colony members are noted.
Sadly, people sometimes dump unwanted cats in the colonies, or dump cats period - and that's where the problem begins.