Residents of Forest Hills Seek Rights for Feral Cats
Forest Hills residents advocate trap, neuter and release procedures for cats.
An underground network of feline friends in Forest Hills is stepping up to propose a humane solution to control the area's feral cats.
These residents believe that trapping, neutering and returning wild cats is the way to rid the community of problems without hurting the animals.
“They’re trying to give these animals a good quality of life and doing a service to the community so two cats don’t become 24,” said Faith Katchmar of Forest Hills, a concerned citizen and animal lover.
Michelle Miller, a member of the board of directors for Homeless Cat Management Team, said these cats are born in the wild due to the ignorance of pet owners in the community. They allow their animals to roam freely without being neutered or simply leave them behind to become strays. After that happens she said, “It only takes two to tango” and it becomes an endless cycle of reproduction.
Miller says neutering the wild cats will stop a myriad of problems that community members frequently complain about. Without extra testosterone, the male cats will cease fighting over females ending loud late night cat fights.
This also ends the strong odor associated with feline urination and the chance for endless reproduction.
“Being a cat lover my whole life, I’m happy there’s an organized way to deal with that—I can see where it helps,” said Carolyn Burr of Forest Hills, a resident who fully supports the idea of TNR as a humane solution in the borough.
The only way that TNR programs can work is with the help of the neighborhood volunteers that are willing to trap the animals and then continue to feed them after they are released back into the community.
However, the keeping of nondomestic cats is strictly prohibited, according to borough ordinances.
Many neighbors are frightened to admit they feed and trap wild cats for fear that the animals will be taken away and destroyed. Even if they are taken to shelters, Miller says feral cats are too difficult to domesticize into normal homes and are killed almost immediately.
“I’m going to be responsible to my neighbors no matter who they are,” said one volunteer that helped with TNR in the Forest Hills area and wished to remain nameless. She along with Katchmar and Burr want to advocate for a change in the borough code that would add an exception to protect feral cats.
“It’s a win-win for everyone. It’s a win for the cats and it’s a win for the community,” Katchmar said.