I’ve been a bit quiet here lately; another project took up lots of my time. I volunteer with a group in my area (Derry Township) that works on trapping, neutering and returning (TNR) feral or community cats, and the project has been for that group. Derry Township Community Cats, just a year old now, has trapped and neutered over 300 outdoor cats this year, helping to reduce the feral population. But even more important (from my perspective) preventing the birth of thousands of kittens who will live a pretty hard life.
I call the cat reproductive cycle cat math. When does 1 cat plus 1 cat equal 14 cats? When they are unneutered community cats. Mating season begins in late winter. One cat may have two or even three litters that year, with perhaps four kittens in each litter, and before the end of the season the kittens that live may also produce kittens themselves. According to the ASPCA one unspayed cat may produce 14 kittens in a year. Assuming all those cats live and reproduce at that same rate you have 203 cats by year two, and 2,754 cats by year three, all from one unspayed female. Using cat math, Derry’s program has already prevented the birth of thousands of kittens.
I help with a variety of things for the program. Last week I was helping provide post-op care for 11 cats who had their surgeries and pre-op care for others who are sick and on the mend before we can neuter them. All of the cats in the program get whatever medical care they need, no matter what, along with their neuter surgery and rabies and distemper shots. We don’t send anyone home sick. So I spent the weekend cleaning up not only for healthy kitties, but ones with diarrhea, and giving meds, as well as room service for all of our guests.
But mostly what I do for the group is publicity. I help get the word out about what we’re doing, and what we need. And the time had come for us to have a logo. Deep breath. A group designing a logo can be a process from hell, and amazingly, ours wasn’t. We signed up with 99designs.com, a service I used to design my pet sitting business logo. You post a brief telling the designers what you’re looking for. We wanted something sophisticated, since we have a fairly cosmopolitan community. We wanted an ear tip (a little piece off the left ear that tells you the cat has been neutered) and most of the designers ignored that. We wanted something simple, elegant, contemporary.
Over four days 31 designers posted their interpretations. Some of the designers seemed to be on, shall we say, another planet? Orange and black, fierce Halloween cats…not what we were looking for. Nor where the very sweet kitties who looked as if they were ready to jump in your lap and purr. They were cute, but far from feral or community cats.
But we also got some really spectacular designs, ones that came a lot closer to telling the community who we are. We had about ten designs that came close to what we we looking for. As we looked at them, and voted on them, we had conversations about what this or that one had to say about our program, our values, the cats we care for, and the community we serve. Designing a logo is a process of clarification.
In the end, amazingly enough, we all agreed on one design. The cat was hiding in the initials of our program (DTCC) and his (or her) posture looked slightly anxious, ready to bolt if needed. Definitely a community kitty, and not a domestic one. Then the big question was: eyes, or no eyes? We all agreed that the eyes personalized the cat. Some thought we shouldn’t personalize the cat, that the eyes made the cat less universal. Others thought the eyes spoke of the fact that someone cared for this particular cat. Most of our cats are trapped from colonies where a colony caretaker provides for them, and definitely cares for each cat. They are personal and individual, each cat.
In the end more of the group thought the eyes were best, and so the eyes had it. Here is our cool new logo, ear tip and all. Process complete, and we are a just a little bit more articulate about who are are and what we stand for now.