Saturday, July 28, 2012

What is happening at Greasy Paws?

This one we call Muffler
Greasy Paws is an un-managed feral cat colony in Long Island City. In 2009, Lisa and Shawn, of North Brooklyn Cats, were asked by someone to TNR some cats in some parking lots in Long Island City. They told me, Big City Little Kitty, and I asked if I could help out. So we started with some recon to find out how many cats were on the site, you can read about it here
As we finished up recon, we had a handle on how many cats were at the location and were able, with pictures, to differentiate between them for a full count, 13, and we introduced them with a Proper Introduction. Our fist night trapping, we caught a Lucky the rain! Over the next few nights, we trapped all but Muffler. Over the years we tried to trap her but were never successful. In December of 2009, we took the cats for A Day at the A, or spay/neuter at the ASPCA. They were spayed/neutered, vaccinated for rabies, received FVCPR vaccinations, received revolution for parasites and were eartipped to show they have been spayed/neutered. This was paid for our of our own pockets. As they recovered, we built some winter shelters to keep them warm. Only 1 of the 3 lots allowed us to put the shelters out for them. We then released them back to their home, the lots. We checked in to confirm there were feeders feeding them and that everyone was doing well after surgery. In January and February of 2010, everyone was doing well.
A trap (not ours) at the lot
In June of 2012, North Brooklyn Cats got a call from one of the feeders in the neighborhood that an exterminator had been hired to trap the cats. When exterminators trap cats in NYC, it is the law that they take them the NYCACC where they alert Neighborhood Cats if they are ear tipped, but if not ear tipped they are killed very quickly because they are feral and not adoptable. For ear tipped cats, Neighborhood Cats will reach out if the colony is registered to find the caretaker to bring them back to their colony. However, this is an un-managed colony and the lot owners were the ones who had them trapped, so relocation would be the only option and that is very rarely an option. When I went by on a Saturday, I saw this trap, baited and set, that had been left unattended, overnight IN A THUNDERSTORM, and was now in a puddle. This is unacceptable and inhumane. We NEVER leave a trap unattended. When cats are trapped, they are frightened and try to get out of the trap banging into the sides. So as soon as a trap snaps, we rush quickly to cover them with a sheet to calm them down, and then they are safe. Imagine if these cats were caught in this trap AND sat in them during intense thunderstorms! Terrible!
I went to speak with the people at the lot where the traps were. I was not welcome, but after some discussion they were open to having a conversation. They told me "I was welcome to take the cats" which I explained was not an option (and I'm pretty sure they already knew that;) because they were feral and there's no where for me to put them. Lois, of Neighborhood Cats, joined me and we learned that the main issues with the cats were overfeeding by feeders which left a lot of mess on their property and cats pooping on the lot where people walked. So, I told them I can't help with the feeders other than talking to them, but I can put out some litter boxes. The other lot owner just repeats to me "the cats have to go". I have explained to him repeatedly "I did not put the cats here, I don't feed here, I don't work here and I don't own the lot. So I am not responsible for these cats, however it was me and my friends that spayed and neutered them so they would not keep having kittens, so we were the ONLY ones to do anything about it and I'm doing what I can to help, but I won't do anything I feel will put the cats in any danger or harm them". He just gets more frustrated, but is cordial to me and says "The cats have to go". As of 7/27 the litter boxes are being used. The problem is, one of the lot owners was trapping and word on the street is he has trapped about 4 cats and has driven 10+ miles out and dumped them at some park so they can't find their way home. This was devastating to hear. Not only is it ILLEGAL, it is also disrespectful to dump cats to become someone else's responsibility (somethings that has been done to this lot owner on his lot) and IT PUTS THE CATS IN DANGER. These cats eat food provided to them. They don't hunt for it and they won't 'know where to find shelter and who knows what kind of trouble they may end up in. You can't just dump cats!  Luckily this person agreed to stop trapping and give the litter boxes a try.
Some other unfortunate events, the lots' owners/leasers and the feeders are having confrontations and things are just getting out of control. Some confusion about the law has popped up, here's the upshot of how it works. It is illegal to withhold food from animals, and its legal to feed on public property, such as the sidewalk area outside the lot; however, if food and garbage (cans,plates,bowls,food) are left behind, it can be considered a public health problem and this will trump the feeding law. So to do it properly, if a property owner refuses to feed and will not allow you to feed on their property, you can feed just off their property on public property, but YOU MUST REMOVE ANYTHING UNEATEN BEFORE YOU LEAVE! You must not leave anything behind. Feeders have been going on their property and putting out food on the lot leaving plates and bowls behind and shoving food and things under the wall of their shed creating a terrible mess and a lot of frustration. So the shed was cleaned and sealed so no cats or feeders could get in and the litter boxes were put out. We spoke with feeders we met to explain they can't leave litter out, some have really done a great job, others have not changed and continue to leave things behind. We had hoped that with these changes would mean less frustration for the lots and less trouble for the cats. 
What has changed everything is that one of the cats is suffering due to the reduced feeding and shelter close. We call her Hitch you can see how her sides go in under her ribs. I found that she was now skin and bones and I couldn't take it. I reached out to the manager of a warehouse where I manage a colony and asked if I can relocate a cat there. He said I could bring 4! They need more cats to manage the rodent population across the street from where I manage the colony in their warehouse! Woohoo! Now, please note, relocation is not always successful and has no guarantee, but if these cats do well, they will have a safe home where they have steady work, plenty of food and shelter to keep them safe. And a feeder is planning to take 1 as well so that's 5 of the 5 or 6 that are remaining on the lot. North Brooklyn Cats was trapping last Sunday trying to catch the cat that's friendly to one of the feeders. He is going to relocate this cat to his back yard. They didn't catch him, but they did catch Hitch.  So Hitch is in my kitchen in a crate awaiting relocation to the warehouse tomorrow, 7/29. She is not happy in my kitchen, but she will have a great new home soon. Stay tuned for more information! I will have another update done by the end of the weekend for what we are doing in the lot to prepare the cats for trapping.
I want people that don't know us to understand this is not our job. We don't get paid for this. This is not what we want to do. I will be financially responsible for 4 new cats for their lifetime, that adds up. We all work full time and have our other responsibilities, hobbies and obligations. So this going to take a lot of our time, money and effort to make this happen and then to manage and care for them for the rest of their lives. We could really use some help, so if you can make a donation (on the right side of this blog) please do. You can reach out to us at for questions or information. If you are familiar with this colony, please read the signs and help us succeed in giving these cats a happy ending.


  1. it is nothing short of astounding how much work you're putting in on this project! i couldn't even comment when i first read this update cuz it's so friggin exhausting just thinking about it, let alone actually getting out there and helping. we gotta find more bakeries like this one and put some cats to work! thanks for helping the cats you can, and for proving that TNR advocates are not just about 'fix it and forget it,' it's about post-neuter management too!

  2. Thanks Chris:) Right back at you!

  3. I couldn't comment on Flickr for some reason but thanks for the work you are doing. I am sure all of this was very frustrating and stressful. I admire you for your persistence, level-headedness and commitment to educating and working with these people (and cats).