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Puss gets the boot

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Photo gallery

1/9
‘Tastes so good cats ask for it by name’: Nancy Rogers, a veterinary tech and animal activist shows one of several “feeding stations” scattered in a forested area near Plumb Beach.
2/9
Public enemy No. 1: The National Parks Service says feral cats are a danger critters native to Plumb Beach and plans to “dismantle” a cat shanty town where a group of Brooklyn feline fanatics care for the homeless hairballers.
3/9
Blondes have more fun: Blondie is a timid housecat someone dumped at the colony about three years ago, a caretaker says.
4/9
Feline friends: Patches and Rusty have been inseparable since a pitiful pet-owner dumped Rusty in Plumb Beach a decade ago. Patches was born in the wild to once-pet parents, caretakers say.
5/9
Looking for a home: Boots is one of the colony’s adoptable members — others are just too wild for the average pet owner, the cat wranglers say.
6/9
Dedi-cat-ed lady: Carolyn Euvino has travelled from Bay Ridge to Plumb Beach every day for the last 11 years to feed her colony of stray cats — dropping as much as $120 on cab rides during inclement weather.
7/9
What a mug: This sour puss is a sweetie at heart.
8/9
Living large: This feline may be named Itsy Bitsy, but it appears to be pretty well-fed.
9/9
A plum gig: Two wild cats play in their Plumb Beach paradise.

First they came for the kitties.

A group of wild cats living in shanty town in Plumb Beach faces eviction by the National Park Service, which says the cats pose a danger to native species.

But the cats’ human caretakers — who built them an elaborate wood-and-cardboard habitat in the woods and feed them daily — argue that the feral felines are doing more good than harm.

“Do you know there’s a rat problem in New York City? You know where there’s no rat problem? Plumb Beach,” said Janelle Barabash of Midwood, who has been caring for them for months along with several other cat fanciers.

The colony consists of 33 cats living in a few dozen shelter and feeding structures organized into six cat condo clusters. It has been a haven for wild and abandoned cats for 11 years, according to Nancy Rogers, another caretaker.

The National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over the beach, said the maleficent mousers threaten area wildlife.

“For a national park to have any exotic species that could a pose threat to native wildlife is in direct conflict with national laws,” said Doug Adamo, a biologist with the federal agency. “It is conservatively estimated that 1 billion birds killed by domestic cats in U.S. alone.”

Adamo did not have numbers specific to Brooklyn or estimates of the body count Plumb Beach’s pugnacious pussycats may have racked up over the last decade, but recent studies have shown that even domestic house cats allowed to roam at night actually hunt and kill far more wildlife than previously estimated.

Local birdwatchers favor moving the cats to protect the local wildlife — especially since Plumb Beach is such a rare and specialized habitat.

“I would hope that the colony caretakers and the Park Service could work out a plan to relocate the cats that live currently at Plumb Beach to existent colonies that are not in such an environmentally sensitive area,” said Rob Bate, a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club. “The littoral zone and saltwater marshes along coasts are severely diminished habitats worldwide and deserve special consideration, protection and attention.”

A Parks Service spokesman said the agency discovered the shanty town last month, but cat advocates say the feds have known about the feline favela for a long time.

When the Army Corps of Engineers was rebuilding the beach after Hurricane Sandy, the Corps gave the head caretaker a key to the fenced-off area. Indeed no disaster seems to have stopped the caretakers.

“When the snow was waist-high this winter, we took a $120 cab to come feed the cats,” said Carolyn Euvino, a Bay Ridge retiree and the chief kitty caretakers who pays for the felines’ food and shots. “I’m a ‘crazy cat lady.’ ”

All 33 animals are fixed and up-to-date on their shots, said Rogers — a veterinary technician who volunteers for trap-and-release organizations.

The effort is a labor of love, but for others, it is much more.

“It’s like therapy for me — I was in Vietnam,” said Ridgeite Joe Destefan. “I still go to group [therapy], but this helps a lot.”

But a sign recently posted near the colony at a parking lot along the Belt Parkway stated that the feds would claw back the land on June 13 by “dismantling” the kitties’ shanties. The Park Service plans to capture the cats using humane traps and then demolish the wood-and-cardboard shelters, Adamo said.

After wrangling with the caretakers, the feds extended the deadline for a week as a show of good faith — it will also help the caretakers transport their charges to nearby shelters while the cats find a permanent home, Adamo said.

But the cats’ caretakers say the task isn’t that easy, and a stint in a shelter will be a death sentence.

“They get five days before they put them down,” said Rogers.

Most of the felines are “true ferals” — meaning they avoid people at all costs — and only a handful are adoptable, she said.

Moreover, there is no way to trap all 33 cats before the Parks Service’s deadline, caretakers said.

“It took a year and a half to trap and spay or neuter the population,” said Rogers. “I don’t know how Doug [Adamo] thinks we’ll do this in eight days.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
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Reader Feedback

John from Brooklyn says:
Cats don't chase away rats, they're afraid of rats. Rats are very aggressive. Feral cats kill thousands of birds each and not for food. Birds eat bugs like mosquitoes. Feral cats in NYC are a problem. If these people really cared about cats they would get them spade and neutered, not feed them.
June 13, 2014, 9:17 am
Demi Monde from Prospect Heights says:
They are spayed (not spayed) and neutered, and vetted, you dolt. And they are fed daily. They have shelter, too. The only thing they're lacking is cat clothing. The cats most certainly do keep the rat and mouse populations down; why do you think bodegas have them in their shops, because they're all cat lovers? Cat are not an invasive species; that is ridiculous. And they are only in the "wild" because of human irresponsibility. Cats would much prefer living a cushy domesticated life. A well-maintained (such as this one) shrinks over time due to the population dying out (as this one has) naturally. Because they are vetted, s/m, sheltered, and fed plentifully, they are not out killing your precious birds. And I'll have you know I love wild birds, and all wild life. Get your facts straight, and don't just espouse your naked hatred for felines with bogus, unscientific, unsupported allegations.
June 13, 2014, 2:30 pm
Iron Lady from Bay Rige says:
Dear Demi Monde -
Why is it necessary to call people names. "YOU DOLT!" Is that necessary. I suppose that you are so perfect that you've never made an error. Well I'm not and when someone politely corrects me I say Thank You.
June 13, 2014, 2:48 pm
Melissa from Queens says:
John from Brooklyn, please read more carefully before commenting. I have had many cats in my lifetime, several that were partially feral so they were indoor/outdoor. Yes, some have caught a bird or two but they have also caught the occasional rodent. None of my cats have ever showed fear of rodents. Feral cats are a problem in NYC because people let them out without neutering. Many are former pets that have been abandoned and breed continuously, thus, creating the feral population that you seem to dislike so much. People created the problem. people should take responsibility for it!
June 13, 2014, 2:54 pm
Rina Deych, RN/Wildlife Rehabilitator from Boro Park says:
As a practitioner of TNR (trap, neuter, return) and feral cat caretaker for many years, I implore Mr. Adamo to reconsider his decision to dismantle the habitat that caring activists have built and maintain for these innocent cats who are in this predicament through no fault of their own. When cats are well fed (as these are) they do not typically hunt and kill birds. They will, however, chase and kill mice because they are on the ground and much more accessible. If the cats are removed, not only will they and their caretakers suffer, but (as has been proven time and again) there will be a vacuum effect and new cats will almost immediately replace them. Many people enjoy observing the cats at Plumb Beach. Each feral cat colony presents a wonderful opportunity to teach people about feral cats and TNR. Rather than removing the cats, the authorities should highlight this and other well-maintained colonies around the city to educate the public and encourage them to do TNR. If one person on each NYC block took the free Neighborhood Cats workshop and learned how to perform TNR, the stray and feral cat population would be under control.
June 13, 2014, 5:13 pm
Cindy from Middle Village says:
I ask that Doug Adamo and the National Parks Dept rethink themselves and leave these cats alone. This is a colony that is controlled and well taken care by the hand and pockets of caring people. This colony is not around housing or people so no one would be complaining. I am sure that their is more tasks for the National Parks Dept to do to fill their busy day...so I ask that you please leave these cats alone. My daughter who is 11 and helps me TNR is shocked and appalled with NPS. Her words are "Leave these cats alone and stop this outrageous nonsense.
June 13, 2014, 10:11 pm
joanne from gb says:
hopefully somebody mixes a ton of rat poison in with a few cans of cat food and leaves it out for them to eat. end of problem
June 15, 2014, 12:27 am
Donna M. from Bay Ridge says:
Hey Joanne - I was just thinking that what if someone did that to you.You sound like such a downer to be around & someone close might be thinking...get rid of her,end of problem :-)
June 15, 2014, 12:02 pm
Donna M. from Bay Ridge says:
Sorry everyone..I feel your pain & horror for what will happen.I understand these fur babies are like your family.I pray that someone steps up & protects your colony of innocent cats. Can someone start a petition on,I think it's - change.org- ? Ii would sign & so would many others..God bless you &the kitties.
June 15, 2014, 12:07 pm
Sandy from Gerritsen Beach says:
This is so unfair, these cats are being fed and taken care of, why can't they be left alone to live their lives. It's a sign of the end when we can't let god creatures live in peace. Shame on you parks department for being so cold hearted. Joanne from gb I hope someone mixes poison with your food and I hope I don't see you I GB cause I may give you some myself. I have no use for ignorant simple minded rotten people like you. Bless you all who help gods creatures and I hope this story has a happy ending.
June 15, 2014, 9:19 pm
Rosalie Chirico from Marine Park says:
The Plumb Beach cats are beautiful, so healthy looking. I saw them 6/13/14. My cuz loves these cats. They are like family. She & myself are very distraught over this news of dismantling the colony. The cats are as asset to this so called "beach". Instead of removing cats, how about the refuse left by humans. Beach is filthy & dangerous. Garbage cans are overflowing. Hoping for the best outcome.
June 16, 2014, 8:32 pm
edy from sunset park says:
let the cats stay,let nature take its course.animals can coexist better than people can.and for the rat poison lady, she sounds like a miserable creature,maybe she has a label on her head that says rat poison,and by the way its illegal to poison cats so if that thing has done it let her know this..
June 17, 2014, 3:27 pm

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