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St. James Church Continues to Forbid Feeding Cats

(Photo by Maggie O'Neill)
(Photo by Maggie O'Neill)
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Please encourage the Archdiocese to let this managed colony stay!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write on behalf of the feral cats at St. James’s Church. Your e-mails alone are 700+ in number so far, and we know your voices have been heard through phone calls also!

Please continue your phone calls and e-mails to the Archdiocese of New York. They could fix this situation with one phone call from the Cardinal. The Archdiocese is answering phone calls and respectfully listening to callers. However, they have been telling people that they are working with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, but can’t divulge the details. The Archdiocese has not yet agreed to meet with us, saying it is a parish issue not involving them, so this is not true.

Father Lino Gonsalves, the priest from the church, is still holding his position that the cats must go away, and he’s removing food put out by caretakers near the locked courtyard fence in an effort to starve them out.

Many well-meaning people are asking why we don’t just relocate the eight cats. We will make sure these cats have a safe outcome, but please understand for the sake of feral cats everywhere, we must do everything in our power to allow continued care of the cats where they are, on the church grounds.

Why? If the church succeeds in having the cats unnecessarily relocated, this will become an “endorsed” solution, inciting others to demand that caretakers everywhere remove unwelcome cats.

St. James Church requested the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) project in the beginning, before any feeding was taking place. All of the feral kittens were trapped, tamed, and adopted at great investment of time and energy of volunteers, not to mention expense not reimbursed by the church. If the eight cats are removed, within six months the church will be calling again to remove a new colony of unneutered cats who will have moved into that protected and secluded haven. Relocation, therefore, is neither a realistic nor humane solution.

The church must allow the cats to remain and be lovingly cared for!

The Realities of Relocating Feral Cats

Experience shows that removing a vaccinated and neutered group of cats from any area opens the door for rodents, and then immediately unneutered cats from surrounding areas move in and begin reproducing. The new cats are attracted to the area for the same reasons the first group of cats moved there (shelter from weather, protection from street dangers, good hunting, etc.).

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the approved method of controlling feral cats in NYC and has been successfully practiced internationally where previous approaches had repeatedly failed. Not feeding, removal, and extermination never solve the problem, but can be terribly cruel and inhumane in their ineffectiveness.

Relocating feral cats can work if carefully planned and methodically executed, but suitable places for relocation are hard to come by. Relocation requires that cats be confined in the new location for a short period to habituate. Without this period of confinement, cats often just run off, never to be seen again. Sometimes if there are resident cats already living in the new area, they will chase off the new cats to a place with no care, food, or protection of any kind.

In a safe spot, where the cats are welcomed, TNR with continued care is always the best solution.


Keep Up Your Efforts!

Politely express your concerns about the well-being of the cats at St. James and St. Joseph’s parish and your wish that Father Lino Gonsalves meet with the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to develop a humane plan for their feral cat colony.

  1. Call Joseph Zwilling, Communications Director for the Archdiocese of New York, at (212) 371-1011 x2997.
  2. E-mail the Archdiocese of New York at communications@archny.org. Father Gonsalves, the Vatican, and the NYC Feral Cat Initiative will be copied on your e-mail.


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