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Safe Places for Feral Cats: A Gold Girl Story

Emily_Morgan (1)

Emily Morgan of Jonesborough learned of the large number of feral cats in her region, took action to help protect cats and control populations, and was named a 2021 Gold Award Girl Scout for her wrok from Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians.

Gold Award Girl Scouts are high schoolers who address issues they’re passionate about by planning and implementing a project that produces lasting change in the community and beyond. It is the Girl Scouts’ highest and most prestigious honor.

After learning from The Humane Society of Washington County that more than 22,000 feral cats live in the Tri-Cities area, Emily wanted to learn more about ways she could help. She learned how to craft cat shelters from plastic tubs, foam, and straw and, along with her father, made several to give to both the humane society and Feral Friends of Greene County.

Feral Friends of Greene County is a nonprofit that is dedicated to helping control the feral cat population in the area through its trap, neuter and release program, which allows the cats to remain with their colony while not reproducing. The organization tags them upon release so they can easily be identified. 

Through 75 hours dedicated to the project, Emily bought supplies and did test runs of the shelter builds; then she created a how-to-build video to share with the public. She ultimately built more than a dozen shelters. 


Construction of the cat shelters.

The organizations receiving the shelters indicated that, in addition to protecting the cats in harsh weather and winter, the structures make it easier to monitor cats and capture the ones that need to be fixed. The cats also get a safe place away from properties where they may not be welcome.

While Emily set out to help feral cats, she had some goals for what she wanted to learn through the project – life skills such as time management and how to use tools, for example. When her project was complete, she had accomplished those goals and more. She fostered relationships and learned about managing both money and time and how to use power tools safely and efficiently.

In her final project report, Emily stated, “I am a huge animal lover and knowing that I helped provide cats a safe environment makes me smile.”

Congratulations, Emily! Visit to learn more about the Girl Scouts.