With the help of several animal welfare nonprofits and businesses, one man is spending this weekend trying to trap, neuter and return to their habitat 300 cats.
Sterling “Trapking” Davis, a former rapper turned cat advocate, is doing so not only to humanely curb cat overpopulation but also to set the world record for the number of cats trapped, neutered (or spayed) and returned (TNR) in a 24-hour period (no record has been set yet). He owns Trapking Humane Cat Solutions, a nonprofit, and his record attempt starts May 21 at midnight.
Davis, an Atlanta resident and one of few Black men involved in cat rescue, is a rarity. But he wants to encourage people of color that "you don't lose cool points for compassion,” he said in a news release.
Davis is partnering with the nonprofit Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE) and several other animal welfare nonprofits. He’s also gotten sponsorships from companies like Purina and nonprofits like the Atlanta Humane Society. The society is conducting half of the spay/neuter surgeries.
During his 24-hour cat roundup and release, Davis will host a pet community event May 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the West End Animal Wellness Center 1195 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. SW in Atlanta. Cat lovers can adopt a new feline friend and get free cat advice, tips and samples from Purina.
Atlanta-area animal organizations and businesses will also be there to showcase their services and merchandise. The event also features social media influencers like Nathan the Cat Lady and Cole and Marmalade.
In an interview, Davis said he started volunteering in cat rescue in 2012 when he saw an ad on Craigslist seeking volunteers to scoop cat litter at a LifeLine Animal Project shelter.
“I’ve always loved animals,” he said. “I never knew it was such a big deal. I didn’t know TNR and cat rescue. I didn’t know (the cat overpopulation problem) was so bad. In the Black community, they don’t deal with cats at all. They don’t know what TNR and the cat community are.”
Davis, who gave up working as a professional rapper, used the skills he learned in that business to make TNR “look cool.”
“Cats weren’t cool,” he said. “If you’re a guy, (the feeling was) you shouldn’t have a cat. The cat lady is an old and ugly and annoys everyone. I wanted to change all of those stereotypes. I felt that’s something that I could do. … I felt that was one void I could (fill). I’m good with people. I felt I could bridge the gap between the Black community and cat care – more people doing it, more help for the cats.”
Davis also wanted to change the stereotypes regarding dogs and Black individuals.
“I feel like (I had) some of those skills being comfortable communicating with people, all types of people,” he said. “With marketing, the whole issue, and this is ever since the (2007) Michael Vick (dog-fighting bust), there’s been an issue, and Michael Vick widened the gap. After that people didn’t want to adopt a dog from someone who looked like Michael Vick.
“One of the main demographics I wanted to listen to me was the demographic of the people that listened to me rap, which are mostly people in underserved communities. I want to get more engagement in community cat care. Once you see that, it’s great.”
Davis added that cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, host of the show “My Cat from Hell,” is a mentor and was the first man who made it cool to like and help cats.
For his 24-hour pet rescue mission, he said he plans to trap cats in 100 neighborhoods in DeKalb, Fulton, Clayton and Henry counties. He said he chose 300 as the record goal both because that’s all the traps he was able to get and so the record can be broken in the future by the next trap king.
Davis, 41, was a professional rapper for about two and a half years, left the business for cat rescue at what he called “the peak of my career,” when he was going on tour with Tech N9ne, a major rapper and producer. What did his friends and family members say?
“’Crazy.’ ‘I’m out of mind.’ ‘I’ve finally lost it.’ ‘Why?’” he said. “So many of my friends were like, ‘You worked forever to get to where you wanted to be in rap.’ ‘You’re going to go broke.’ For one, I’ve always been the weird one among all my friends. I get it.
“I love music. I still love music. I don’t have any children, so I feel like this is my legacy. This is what I’m supposed to do. Afterwards, there will be a lot more guys doing this. They’ll think it’s cool to volunteer and help the cat lady up the street.”