For 16 years, everything was fine in Gracie’s world. She had food, water, vet care, and a warm place to stay.
But now she’s facing eviction.
The administration of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island, N.Y., has suddenly decided that Gracie is a problem and she needs to be removed from the place she calls home.
Some tenants of an apartment building on the property even say that Snug Harbor maintenance workers hosed down her little home under a walkway, where she snuggles next to heat vent in the winter, and threw away her food and water dishes.
Snug Harbor President and CEO Lynn Kelly says Gracie has to go because Snug Harbor is on New York City parkland, and there are rules that prohibit the feeding of animals on park property.
How did these rules become so very important and inviolable after 16 years? It’s not as if Gracie has a whole lot more time in this world, so why can’t the administration just let her be for the time she has left?
On behalf of Snug Harbor, Kelly has made an appeal to no-kill animal rescues to help Gracie find a loving home.
The problem, tenants say, is that Gracie is a feral cat. Although she does occasionally let certain people pet her, she usually runs away when approached. She doesn’t trust people. She’s never used a litterbox. And who knows how she’d get along with other cats?
After 16 years of outdoor life, there’s no way she could be an indoor cat.
“She needs to stay where she is,” said Diane Figur of Randall Manor, a member of the group that took Gracie to be spayed when she was a kitten and has been checking on her and giving her regular vet care ever since. “You can’t just take a cat like that and make her a house cat; she’d flip out.”
Tenants are concerned that the center’s administration will either trap Gracie and bring her to Central Animal Care and Control, where it’s almost certain that she’ll be killed due to her age and feral status — or they’ll drive her away and leave her lost and unable to fend for herself.
Residents contacted the Staten Island Council for Animal Welfare and pleaded with them for help. The organization has been spreading the word about Gracie’s plight through its Facebook page, urging their followers to e-mail Snug Harbor’s administration and urge them to let the cat stay.
Last week, Gracie’s story made the Staten Island Advance and NY1 News. Hopefully the added publicity will bring more pressure to bear on Snug Harbor’s administration, and the elderly feline will be able to live out her last years in peace in the only home she’s ever known, among people who care for her.