Feral cat population rising on Long Island due to suspension of programs last spring

Kristin Thorne Image
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Feral cat population rising due to COVID-related program suspension
Kristin Thorne reports the population of feral cats on Long Island are becoming unmanagebale according to cat trappers.

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- People involved in the trap, neuter, release (TNR) of cats on Long Island are warning about the exploding number of feral cats due to the suspension of towns' TNR programs last spring.

"Feral cats are suffering and, as a community, it's our responsibility to care for them," said Renee Kraft, a cat trapper. "If we don't care for them, no one's going to care for them."

Eyewitness News found that the majority of towns on Long Island suspended their TNR programs last spring because of the coronavirus. In most towns, the number of cats spayed or neutered from January 2020 to October 2020 is significantly less than in 2019.

In the Town of Hempstead, nearly four times as many cats were spayed or neutered in 2019 compared to 2020. In 2019, 2,534 cats were spayed or neutered compared to 656 cats in 2020.

In 2019, the Town of Islip spayed or neutered 243 cats. Only 31 have been spayed or neutered in 2020.

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In the Town of Babylon, 838 cats were spayed or neutered in 2019 compared to 421 in 2020.

A spokesperson for the Town of Oyster Bay says the town spayed or neutered 214 cats in 2019 and 103 in 2020.

The towns' programs resumed several months ago, but while they were suspended, the cats kept breeding. Female cats can produce three to four litters every year.

The population of feral cats in colonies is becoming unmanageable, according to cat trappers.

Kraft said she has been raising money to spay or neuter the cats that she traps.

"I wish we had more resources available from our town shelters," she said.

Michele Alier has also been pitching in, trapping cats for spay or neuter.

"We're doing the best that we can. We're trying to get these cats fixed, but they're multiplying faster than we can get a hold of them," she said. "We're trying to do something that's going to help a population of animals that people don't care about."

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