Hobbies and interests have a way of sometimes taking on a life of their own, usually for the better. Such is the case for Adam Myatt, a musician who liked taking pictures and liked cats. And liked taking pictures of cats.
“My old band did a few mini tours, and I would take photos of ‘Cats On Tour,’” Adam says. “Sometimes it was outdoor feral cats, sometimes it was of people’s cats who let us crash on their floors. But it was mostly just a silly or easy way to kill time when we were out of town.”
For their part, cats seemed to know that they had found a human friend in Adam. When he and his bandmate moved into their current house six years ago, “cats just seemed to keep finding me!” he says. “These were no longer Cats On Tour, but street-smart, tough-as-nails neighborhood cats, and the Hoodcats photo series was born!”
Hoodcats started as photos that Adam posted online. Soon, friends were encouraging him to merchandise his photos. Adam was skeptical, but with crowdsourcing just taking off at the time, he decided to fund some calendars. To his surprise, the calendars sparked a big interest.
“The 2013 Hoodcats Calendar got funded in about three days,” Adam recalls. “Our weekly paper, the East Bay Express, caught wind of it and interviewed me. They dubbed me the Cat Man of West Oakland, and I just sorta ran with it! It’s now in its sixth year, and I donate proceeds from the calendars to our local low-cost spay/neuter center Fix Our Ferals.”
That wasn’t the only big change. A litter of orphaned kittens came along. “Initially, I was just taking photos and feeding random street cats,” he says. “But when I found an adorable litter of kittens, I knew I couldn’t just let them live outside and wanted to do something more.”
The founder of Cat Town Rescue helped Adam rescue the kittens and adopt them out. Since then, he has dived head first into the cat rescue and trap-neuter-return world.
“I’ve gotten way more involved with Feral Change, a nonprofit that focuses on TNR, and use funds from Hoodcats merchandise to help fund spay/neuter with them and Fix Our Ferals. I also volunteer at our city shelter, Oakland Animal Services, and take photos of the adoptable animals for their adoption profiles and social media.”
Adam plans to keep his efforts going. He’d like to work on a photo book and continue with the calendar. He makes videos promoting TNR (done in a style reminiscent of the campy 1960s Batman series). He also helps out the Kitten Lady, Hannah Shaw, with videos.
He likes combating the “crazy cat person” stereotype. Or at least turning it on its ear. “I’ve encountered all sorts of ‘normal’ people who do TNR — teachers, lawyers, baristas, etc., and you don’t have to be crazy to get involved! Plus, I see getting stray cats spayed and neutered as ground zero for decreasing shelter populations; we just need people to do their part and help out!”
Elisa Jordan is a Southern California freelance writer specializing in pets. She has a terrier, Gidget, and a cat, Izzy.
Thumbnail: Photography courtesy @CatmanOfWestOakland.
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