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Agreement Reached to Allow Cats to Remain at St. James Church

(Photo by Maggie O'Neill)
(Photo by Maggie O'Neill)
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The Archdiocese of New York agreed to work with the NYC Feral Cat Initiative (NYCFCI) of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to restore daily care and feeding to the colony of eight feral cats living at the historic St. James Church in lower Manhattan. During a sixty-day trial period, a suitable feeding station and shelters for the cats will be placed and a litter box will be added to the regimen of care. There will be an onsite meeting with the church pastor and caretakers this week to work out a routine acceptable to all. The NYCFCI has submitted a proposal for consideration outlining guidelines for ongoing care for the colony to be reconsidered and adopted after the sixty-day trial period.

The agreement was reached at a March 27 meeting attended by Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals President Jane Hoffman, Monsignor Kevin Nelan of the Archdiocese of New York, Father Lino Gonsalves of St. James Church, and NYCFCI Community Outreach Coordinator Mike Phillips. A dynamic and vigorous discussion of the virtues of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) was a part of the meeting, as well as the importance of continued daily feeding in order to assure continued stability of any feral colony.

Fortunately, the TNR project at St. James was already completed and discussions began from that strong position. Chinatown is known to be one of the most rodent-infested areas of New York City, as well as having large numbers of unneutered feral cats roaming the area. After explanation of the merit of keeping a neutered and vaccinated colony in place, there was agreement that removal of the cats was not in anyone’s best interest.

Kudos to TNR volunteer Elizabeth Eller for the energy she devoted to the project starting in 2009. Her completion of TNR on the eight cats lent much more weight to arguments defending the current presence of the colony. The colony has not grown in three years since two litters of kittens were trapped, tamed, and adopted at the beginning of the project. In contrast, a colony being fed without TNR cannot be defended with such effectiveness. Thank you, Elizabeth, on behalf of the colony. May they enjoy continued care and acceptance thanks to your very timely hard work!

The need for education in responsible pet ownership (the human component of feral cat management) was also discussed to prevent additional cats from being abandoned to the streets and starting new feral colonies.

The church is setting a fine example of leadership by example with this compassionate and humane consideration for these cats abandoned to the street through no fault of their own. Please express your thanks to the Archdiocese of New York for their willingness to meet and their agreement to the sixty-day trial period. Though not completely resolved, we are confident this will be a win-win for the cats and St. James Church.

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Thank the Archdiocese of New York!

Thank the Archdiocese of New York by contacting Joseph Zwilling, Communications Director, at communications@archny.org or (212) 371-1011 x2997.


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