Meet the Rapper and Cat Lover Who's Winning Awards for Advocacy and Still Keeping His 'Cool Points'
He's known online as the "Original TrapKing"—as well as #purrackobama! Rapper and full-time cat advocate Sterling Davis delivers a one-two punch of humor and steadfast work ethic to bust stereotypes, expand animal welfare education, and help thousands of homeless cats.
"Being a Black man in cat rescue is rare, and most people don't know what TNR is," Davis tells Daily Paws. TNR, also known as the trap-neuter-return process, helps reduce the threat of disease and overpopulation in outdoor feral cat colonies. Sometimes they're referred to as "community cats" because they're strays. Davis says TNR is the only humane alternative to the worst-case scenario, which is death, for these free-roaming felines.
Based in Atlanta, Davis gave up the chance of a promising music tour when he answered a shelter's Craigslist ad asking for volunteers to help with, of all things, cleaning litter boxes. This volunteerism spurred his interest in cat rescue, and in 2017 he founded the nonprofit TrapKing Humane Cat Solutions.
In 2021, he and his mission were featured in a Netflix documentary, "Cat People." Here's a preview.
"TNR is difficult for the people who do it. There are a lot of stereotypes in cat rescue—a lot of people view us as crazy cat people!" Davis says. "In actuality, it's hard work, and it takes a lot. We are helping people, animals, and the community as a whole. I know how rare I am, but there are a lot more people like me getting involved in TNR." In addition to Atlanta, Davis' operation has helped cat colonies in cities across the U.S., such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Denver, and Detroit, to name a few. Next spring, he plans to travel overseas to jumpstart a TNR program in Greece.
Community Organizer With a Worldwide Platform
Davis is also a passionate advocate for humans, not just feline friends. He uses his TNR mission to create awareness and bridge the gap between the Black community and predominately white animal rescue organizations. Why is there a gap? Davis says it's a combination of things.
"Underserved communities are behind in education and financially. Using TNR as a focal point, I educate and service the communities who need it most," he says. "We need to build trust." He's a frequent speaker at animal welfare conferences and works closely with CARE, a "Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC] led organization inspired to rethink and rebuild animal welfare in a way that honors and reflects the well-being of all people."
Because of his tireless advocacy for both cats and humans, the ASPCA presented Davis with the 2021 Cat Advocate of the Year award. When sharing the news with his Instagram followers, he said, "As always, anything I do or accomplish isn't just me, it's all of us … all the trappers, fosters, vet techs, vets, adopters, all the amazing women that trained me and to all those that donate, spread the word, and continue to support the mission … I LOVE YALL!"
But as this hilarious TikTok shows, he didn't let the recognition go to his head.
He also has a message of hope for anyone who wants to make a better life for animals. "Head butts and slow blinks, good people! Everyone is capable of helping. Contact your local shelter to get involved. Whether you help 1 or 50 animals, you're making a difference," Davis says. "My motto is: 'You don't lose cool points for compassion.'"