NYC Feral Cats Have Mike Phillips a Talented and Creative Force Advocating for Them
As the director of the New York City Feral Cat Initiative, a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Mike Phillips leads the effort to solve NYC’s feral cat-overpopulation crisis.
Considered a nuisance by many because of their fierce fighting and prolific mating, tens of thousands feral cats live in colonies throughout the five boroughs. With many neighborhoods at a loss as to how to deal with these unruly felines, Phillips has become New York City’s go-to guy.
His broad expertise includes knowing how to manage feral cat colonies; how to carry out TNR (trap, neuter, return), the safe and humane way to control feral cat-overpopulation; and how to round up even the hardest-to-catch feral. Phillips runs workshops on these topics and others, both in New York and around the country. He even runs a workshop on how to tame feral kittens and turn them into adoption-ready pets.
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Mike Phillips’ interest in feral cats developed after he came to New York City following a long career as a dancer with ballet troupes in Brussels and Stockholm. It was when he was working as the assistant to Martha Clarke, the MacArthur Award-winning director and choreographer, that his life changed.
When rehearsals for one of Clarke's Hans Christian Andersen were suspended, Phillips filled his time by volunteering at an adoption shelter opposite the rehearsal studio. Within 10 days, he had been named Volunteer Coordinator. Soon afterwards, when came face to face with his first feral cat colony (behind famous San Remo apartment building on Central Park West), he realized he had found a passion equal to dance.
Phillips, who has directed and choreographed productions of the ballets Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Peer Gynt and Madame Butterfly and the musicals Gypsy, Carousel and Bye Bye Birdie, remains a working artist. Until the company’s recent demise, he was the New York City Opera’s full-time stage director. Later this month, his production of the Victor Herbert musical “Orange Blossoms” opens in a production by the Light Opera of New York with a script he adapted. This will be the first time the show has been performed since it opened on Broadway in 1922.
In addition to working with the Mayor’s Alliance, Phillips is president of the Urban Cat League, which he co-founded in 2001.
Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals
The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that works with more than 150 partner rescue groups and shelters to offer important programs and services that save the lives of NYC’s homeless animals. We are supported entirely by donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals and receive no government funding. Since our founding in 2003, we have remained committed to transforming New York City into a no-kill community by 2015, meaning that no dogs or cats of reasonable health and temperament will be killed merely because they do not have homes.