The Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project

One of the information tables on the Coney Island Boardwalk during last week's Mermaid Parade belonged to Coney Island Boardwalk Cats, a project of the Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, the tax-exempt non-profit doing 'Trap, Neuter, Release" (TNR) with Coney Island's feral cat population.

The rash of recent demolitions in Coney Island as the area is re-developed has destroyed many of the places where the cats, some of them Sandy survivors, once sheltered.  For these cats, life on the Coney Island Boardwalk means bitter cold winter winds, chronic thirst and starvation, and the ever-present threat of human cruelty.

TNR, by stabilizing and managing feral cat populations like Coney Island's, can provide a better life for the cats in a feral colony and hold down the territory, preventing other cats from moving in and starting the cycle again. 

TNR involves humanely trapping the cats, getting them spayed-neutered and vaccinated by a veterinarian, separating out young kittens and tame cats for adoption, and returning feral adults to a managed colony supervised by a volunteer human caretaker who will evaluate any new strays.

Properly managed, a feral colony will gradually grow smaller over time because it produces no kittens. A feral colony provides an alternative for cats that may otherwise end up seeking shelter at commercial locations.

The human benefits of TNR range from reassuring local residents that the cats are being well-treated to impressing the tourists who see the cats on the Boardwalk with what a nice place Coney Island is.

New Jersey's Atlantic City is a TNR success story. Fifteen years ago, there were as many as 500 feral cats living under the Atlantic City Boardwalk.  Seeing them as a nuisance, the city planned to exterminate the cats. At that point, International TNR advocacy organization Alley Cat Allies intervened, and with the city's cooperation, conducted an extensive TNR project. Today, the feral cats of Atlantic City live in colonies under the Boardwalk managed by volunteer human caretakers.

Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, which recently TNRd a group of more than 30 cats, has begun a similar undertaking in Coney Island.

A second TNR event involving 24 feral cats will take place from Saturday July 5 through Saturday, July 12. Trapping will begin on Saturday, July 5, at three locations near the Coney Island Boardwalk, and will continue as needed through Monday, July 7. Volunteers will begin trapping at 6:30 AM and will continue through 4:30 PM. The cats will be transported to a holding space in Borough Park and spayed/neutered at a clinic on Tuesday, July 8.

Volunteers are being actively recruited to help with the trapping, transporting cats to and from the Borough Park holding space, caring for trapped cats at the holding space (shifts are at 8 AM and 7 PM), and helping transport cats to the clinic, starting at 5 AM on July 8.

After being spayed/neutered/vaccinated, the cats will be transported back to the holding area for recovery and then released where they were found.

If you're interested in volunteering for the TNR project, email Josie at brooklyn.rescue.umbrella@gmail.com with the dates/times that you are available and the activities you can assist with, such as feeding, cleaning, trapping, and driving.

1 comment:

Bearly said...

You must let the colony exist. Even if you TNR, that's fine. Stability is fine. But if you get to a point where there are no cats. A beautiful part of Coney Island will be destroyed forever. Those cats are residents, just like any other. Maybe they need some help, but they are still residents. Over the thousands of years, cats have given us more than they have taken from us. I've had my hand shredded by plenty of feral cats when I attempted to play with them. I love feral cats. Let them be, their loss would be destructive to the town.

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