For the past two weeks, a New York-based nonprofit has been fighting for cats trapped in a Queens housing development.
The Ravenswood housing development in Astoria, Queens, has been home to more than 500 cats and kittens that patrolled the compound. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) runs the development, and earlier this year the agency decided that the cats needed to be permanently removed.
The SaveKitty Foundation, a Queens-based cat rescue organization, offered to trap, neuter, and return (TNR) the cats to their colony. After months of discussion, NYCHA rejected the TNR proposal and instead, in mid-August, hired contractors to close the crawl spaces the cats use for shelter.
SaveKitty sprang into action and started removing the cats and kittens as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, despite their hard work, many cats were trapped inside the spaces with no food and water, and no way out.
In addition to their rescue efforts, SaveKitty continued advocating for their solution to the Ravenswood cat problem. As proponents of TNR, they believe that neutering an existing colony of outdoor cats is the most effective way to manage a population of outdoor cats. With no means of reproduction, the colony’s size will stabilize and eventually get smaller.
On the other hand, studies have shown that when an entire cat colony is removed from an outdoor environment, other cats soon arrive to fill the opening.
Another benefit to having cats in an apartment complex on the scale of Ravenswood, which has almost 4,500 residents, is that they help control the rodent population.
While NYCHA reportedly initially denied that any cats had been trapped, SaveKitty’s president, Debi Romano, rescued a few cats each day.
Finally, yesterday New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg granted permission for SaveKitty to rescue any cats and kittens currently trapped inside sealed spaces in the complex.
Now that Mayor Bloomberg has authorized the rescue effort, the work should proceed at a quicker pace and as many cats as possible will be removed before the next heat wave makes the already hot spaces even hotter.