Brighton Beach cat lady: I want to keep my 45 kitties! • Brooklyn Paper

Brighton Beach cat lady: I want to keep my 45 kitties!

Barbara Berger’s cats have names like Jake, Yoshi, Montgomery and Caca.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A Brighton Beach cat hoarder says she will give up her rent-stabilized home and live on the street rather than part with all but two of the 45 kitties with which she shares her one-bedroom apartment.

Barbara Berger has been ordered by the landlord of her building on Coney Island Avenue near Neptune Avenue to get rid of her furry friends by March 14 if she wants to remain in the apartment, for which she pays $153 a month.

But the cat lady says she and the felines have no where else to go, and she is the best person to take care of her pals Yoshi, Montgomery, Blake, Caca, and all the rest.

“They need a place to live and so do I,” said Berger. “I love the cats too much.”

Berger said she offered to keeping just 10 cats, but the landlord, Herald Realty Group, said “no.”

If the landlord has its way, Berger will be allowed to stay in the apartment if she whittles the feline colony that’s scratched up the walls and left her place smelling of litter and urine to two, attorneys for the landlord said in housing court last week.

Herald Realty Group declined to comment on Berger’s case.

Some of Berger’s neighbors — who call the 51-year-old the “Brighton Beach cat lady” — can’t wait for the animal exodus to begin.

“It’s disgusting.” said Julie Obraztsova, who lives on the same floor as Berger.

Yet Berger believes she would be hurting her cats if she let them go.

“I don’t want to neglect them,” she told us.

The ASPCA removed three of the cats at one point, but Berger refused to give any more away, a spokesman for the animal rights group said.

The city has no laws that limit the amount of cats or dogs per household, although city Housing Authority residents are limited to one cat or one dog, according Bret Hopman of the ASPCA.

And a friend of Berger’s defended her right to keep the cats, claiming that many of them are so sick or old, no one would want to give them a home.

“A lot of the cats are not that adoptable,”said Andrew Kent.

Berger says she lives on disability checks and whatever she can get from collecting recyclables. She moved into the one-bedroom apartment, which is subsidized by the city, with 15 cats in 2007, but that number ballooned as she took in strays off the street and accepted unwanted kittens from neighbors and friends.

Some borough veterinarians were horrified to learn of the cats’ living conditions.

“With that number of cats I think you’re bordering on abuse,” said Edward Osterman of the Kings Bay Veterinary Hospital in Sheepshead Bay.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

Barbara Berger is facing eviction unless she can find homes for all but two of the 45 cats she keeps in her Brighton Beach apartment.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

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