I came across this colony of twenty-five cats in the Summer of 2005. I saw one cat sitting outside Chambers Paper recycling warehouse, down by the river in DUMBO, Brooklyn, and ran to a deli to buy it a can of food, knowing he was probably a hungry stray, or, more accurately as it turned out, a hungry warehouse cat.
The sound of the can cracking open flushed out seven more cats and my fate was sealed. I returned every few days to feed them and put water down. It was a blistering NYC Summer and they were dehydrated, drinking out of filthy oil-tinged puddles. I was feeding them on the sidewalk and they would all wait for me. I had no plan and no knowledge of feral colonies.
Eventually I met my mentor, Elizabeth Newsom, founder of non-profit organisation Gotham City Kitties, at her feral colony in a truck park near mine late one night, and we started working together to trap, spay and neuter the cats in the warehouse and the truck park. Meredith Weiss of Neighbourhood Cats was my guardian angel and held my hand during my first fifteen cat trappings.
I had taken the ASPCA training course which enabled me to use the free medical services of the mobile spay and neuter clinic, and thus I found myself with fifteen cats in traps in my cellar recovering from surgery before being released back to the colony.
From that initial trapping five were adopted out and I have been taking care of the rest of them for three-and-a-half years, going once every two or three days to put down wet food which they eat while I wait, and to leave water bowls and small amounts of dry food for those that miss the wet food.
I have taken in four from that colony since then, and they now live with me. They were found as kittens from the two remaining unspayed females I failed to trap that first time round. The kittens would not have survived the heavy industrial machinery.
I have euthanised two who were found dying, so at least they were given the chance to die cared for enough to let them go with dignity, rather than suffering their last days in a filthy hole in a warehouse corner.
One of the cats I had euthanised was an unspayed female, who I missed in the mass-trapping; she died from having a decomposing unexpressed foetus inside her as a result of not being spayed. This is not common, but unfortunately it is not rare and is one of the strongest arguments for spaying females, aside from the numbers issue.
Since I have been this colony’s caretaker the number of cats has fallen from twenty-five to seven, and that is a direct result of spaying and neutering, adopting out the ones that were adoptable and allowing the sick ones to die quickly.
Now to the matter at hand.
We have just been asked by the owner of the warehouse to discontinue feeding the cats. The warehouse has rats. It is near the river, it contains garbage and it is an old building. Every time I am there, I see a dead rat or two left by the spot where one of the cats sleeps. The cats do their job. They don’t eat the rats, it’s just sport. They do NOT have to be hungry to hunt.
The people who live upstairs in this building complain that the dry food left down for the cats CAUSES the rats. It does not. The rats were there years before we started caring for the cats. The rats are attracted by the garbage up in the corridors and by the garbage that unfortunately finds itself in the warehouse, despite the fact that it is in theory a paper recycling plant. That’s lazy recycling for you.
If we are not allowed to feed the cats, they will starve and will not even fulfill their original purpose of keeping the rat population down. They will not eat the rats. We obviously are not going to let that happen, and will trap the cats and keep them in cages while we try to find somewhere to relocate them.
When we withdraw the cats, the rat population will explode.
This is what people don’t seem to understand. There is currently poison down for the rats. If the cats were to starve, and attempt to eat a rat, they will be poisoned too. This is obviously not going to be allowed to happen either.
More photos and a video are on this page, and more will be added shortly.
We need your help in urging David to continue granting us access to his property at Chambers Paper. Please sign our PETITION HERE.