With development of a park next to the Terminal underway, concerned representatives of BGI, which is spearheading the park project, contacted Lander’s office about the cats, who roam freely between the Terminal and the park’s construction site. In turn, Lander’s office contacted the NYCFCI. According to the NYCFCI’s Kathleen O’Malley, “BGI will allow the cats to stay as long as they are TNR’ed.”
This past November, Milton Puryear, the Director of Project Development for BGI, introduced Kathleen and her NYCFCI colleague Mike Phillips to the PANYNJ contact they needed to approach to obtain permission for Certified TNR Caretakers to be able to TNR cats at the Terminal. The PANYNJ supported the TNR plan that was presented to them. As Kathleen explains, “They want a humane solution for the cats. And they recognize that the cats are non-toxic rodent control. The cats perform a service for the port which, with all the cargo coming in, attracts an abundance of rats.”The PANYNJ not only approved of the plan, they also allowed NYCFCI to put out winter shelters for the cats. Mike made well-insulated shelters for the cats out of Coleman 150-quart Marine Coolers by drilling a hole into the side of each one.
The NYCFCI does not, as an organization, do TNR, but acts as a resource for education, materials, and advice for those who do. For this project, the NYCFCI turned to its network to find Certified TNR Caretakers willing to trap the cats.
Approximately half the cats congregate at the north end of the facility near the administration building, where one of the cats’ main caretakers works. The other half are mostly found near the container building at the south end of the property. However, Kathleen points out that more cats visit the Terminal from other area parks.
One Certified TNR Caretaker who lives in Brooklyn has offered her basement as a holding area for the cats before and after their spay/neuter procedures at the ASPCA clinic. Her basement is large enough to accommodate up to seven cats at a time.TNR, which is being done in stages, began shortly after the New Year. The trapping of cats at the north end is nearing completion. Cats and kittens deemed friendly are being put up for foster/adoption mostly by Infinite Hope, a Brooklyn-based cat rescue organization.
Once the north end trapping is completed, the process will begin at the south end. Cats also frequent a secure area of the port. The NYCFCI is working on getting permission to set traps in that area, and will need to arrange for TNR to take place when a PANYNJ employee is able to be on hand to escort Certified TNR Caretakers.
While the exact number of cats in the area is not known, Kathleen estimates that at least 60–70 cats will be spayed/neutered by the time the project is completed, which will be well before the park opens.In addition to the TNR work, BGI has requested that the NYCFCI coordinate the delivery of “purpose-built” cat shelters to the park area to replace the tumbledown ones currently in place. An “unobtrusive feeding station” sanctioned by BGI and built by Mike has already been delivered to the area.
Kathleen says the project is “a good model for working with organizations and rallying volunteers.” She calls the experience a positive one, “which is not often what you get when you are dealing with different people and organizations. But the common thread is that everyone is keeping the cats’ best interests in mind.”