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Saving Bruce Ratner’s cats

The Brooklyn Paper
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While opponents of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project continue to work around the clock — figuratively — to block the developer’s wrecking ball, cat lovers are working around the clock — literally — to rescue a colony of feral felines who are about to lose their home to make room for the 16-tower mega-project.

A group from Slope Street Cats, which traps, neuters, and cares for feral kitties, has been spending its nights setting up traps outside a trash-filled lot on Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street, whose 11 stray cats don’t know that the largest development in Brooklyn’s history is about to evict them.

“Cats are very tied to place,” said Laura Brahm, the group’s assistant executive director. “If [Ratner] starts doing demolition, the cats will either run away and starve, or get hit by cars.”

The challenges are many. For one thing, Brahm inquired at the developer’s much-heralded “community liaison office” last week to find out when various buildings are set to be torn down, but she hasn’t gotten an answer.

In addition , these cats — who have all been given names of presidents or first ladies — have already been trapped for spaying or neutering, and are extremely wary of being caught again (can you blame them?).

On Tuesday evening, Brahm pulled up in her friend’s battered red Toyota Corolla, pulled out four traps, unpeeled tins of sardines, and placed them inside the traps.

Then she got back in her car and waited. On average, it takes Brahm an hour or two to re-trap a feral cat. That night was no exception.

After about 20 minutes, a cow-print cat with a black tail named John F. Kennedy started nosing around and was, eventually, caught with a net.

The 35th president will join Zachary Taylor, Warren Harding and Eleanor Roosevelt — three fellow ferals — in a pimped-out shed in a volunteer’s backyard, where they will dine on fancy food to help endear them to the new location.

Meanwhile, Brahm and her colleagues will be hard at work in the Atlantic Yards footprint, catnapping Bruce Ratner’s kitties (a Ratner spokesman refused to comment, by the way).

“I’ll keep coming back every night until we get them all,” said Brahm.

Four down. Seven to go.

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