NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Multitudes of feral cats roam New York City’s concrete jungle, and some now have a practical purpose: They’re helping curb the city’s rat population.

A group of volunteers trained by the NYC Feral Cat Initiative traps wild cat colonies that have become a nuisance or been threatened by construction, then spays or neuters and vaccinates them. The goal is to return them to their home territory, but some end up in areas rife with rats.

Feline rat patrols keep watch over city delis and bodegas, car dealerships and the grounds of a Greenwich Village church. Four cats roam the loading dock at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where food deliveries and garbage have drawn rodents for years.

“We used to hire exterminators, but nature has a better solution,” said Rebecca Marshall, the sustainability manager at the 1.8-million-square-foot center. “And cats don’t cost anything.”

About 6,000 volunteers have completed workshops where they’ve learned proper ways to trap cats.

The program is run through the privately funded Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of more than 150 animal rescue groups and shelters. It estimates as many as half a million feral and stray cats roam the five boroughs.

The life of a street cat is a tough one. Some are former pets, abandoned by owners. Plenty die of disease and malnutrition or are hit by vehicles. Others ingest poisoned cat food — set deliberately to get rid of them, cat advocates say.

Many of the animals are displaced as a result of New York’s development, with new construction creating perilous conditions for those that once inhabited the city’s nooks and crannies, from vacant lots, decaying factories and empty warehouses.

One colony of two dozen cats living in a lot on the West Side are about to be displaced by construction on a new $3 billion office tower. A City Council member is working with residents and developers to make sure the creatures are moved to a safe location.

The Javits Center’s quartet of cats — Sylvester, Alfreda, Mama Cat and Ginger — were lured to its 56 loading docks about two years ago with pet food brought by animal-loving employees. On a recent fall morning, Sylvester stationed himself next to a commercial truck, ready to pounce if needed.

The cats are predators but don’t necessarily kill rats. Instead, experts say the feline scent and droppings repel the rodents.

“The breeding female rats, not being stupid, they’re moving out of the area because their babies would be so vulnerable, and where the breeding female rats go, the male rats follow,” Mike Phillips, coordinator for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, told 1010 WINS.

The cat population is controlled through spaying and neutering, provided free of charge by the Humane Society of New York and the ASPCA. In most cases, adoption is out of the question for feral cats because they are just too wild to be domesticated.

Thanks to the volunteers, says Marshall, “we’re protecting wildlife in the city, and the cats get a second chance at life.”

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (4)
  1. When cbslocal get’s their collective heads out of their asses and fixes their commenting system, I’ll bother to waste more of my valuable time trying to educate you on how to save your lives from their vermin cat infestation. Until then, you deserve to drown in a sea of their disease-infested community-vermin cats.

  2. Another interesting experiment. They wanted to find out if dogs could possibly transmit cat-shat Toxoplasma gondii oocysts. A dog infected with T. gondii from a source-cat cannot. The oocyst stage of this parasite’s life-cycle by which cats spread their parasite into all other animals is 100%-dependent on cat-physiology as its primary reproductive host. But if dogs ingest oocyst-laden cat-feces then dogs can pass the oocysts produced by cats & their common brain-hijacking parasite. http : / / www . ncbi . nlm . nih . gov / pubmed / 9477489?dopt=Abstract&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn

    It is interesting to note that these Toxoplasma gondii oocysts shed by cats can even survive the hydrochloric stomach acids for the duration that they remain in a mammal’s digestive tract. And then they doubt my words when I tell them of the studies where they found that this parasite’s oocysts (seeds) can even survive washing your hands in bleach. You could wash your hands and garden vegetables in hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes for the same duration that food remains in an animal’s digestive tract and even that won’t destroy it. Your hands would be dissolved into a digestible pulp long before you could kill the Toxoplasma gondii oocysts.

    Yeah, “basic hygiene” is going to keep your kids safe from going blind sometime during their life, becoming autistic, schizophrenic, get ADHD, suffer from epilepsy, get brain-cancers, debilitating depressions, suffer from memory-loss, commit unexplained suicides, have bouts of Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), suffer from other neurological illnesses, or die if they ever require any immunosuppressive therapies or contract any immunity-compromising diseases during their lifetime if they had ever played in a sandbox that a neighbor’s cat has defecated in.

    Go ahead everyone, drink the cat-lickers’ Kool-Aid.

    Someone who will save the life of one of their clearly expendable vermin cats over yours is not to be trusted by any other human alive on this planet. Even cat-lickers can’t trust their fellow cat-lickers to save each others’ lives when it comes right down to it. Truth is, they’d even rather that their own family and friends die (if they have any) than any of their deadly disease-infested cats. Sociopaths and psychopaths, one and all, right to their very cores.

  3. Squafdonoboles says:

    Ha-Ha, The Rat Patrol.

  4. Jason West says:

    Jason Douglas West did you see this?

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