Nine lives spared!
The feral cats who Bensonhursters said were being systematically starved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are free, thanks to some vigilant cat-lovers and the power of the press.
Kitty caretakers feared a few furballs living in the N Train’s Bay Parkway station were doomed when the authority sealed walls and cracks through which the cat-lovers were rescuing kittens and feeding adults.
Amateur animal trappers had been offering to remove the cats from the station property for years, they said, but the authority ignored their pleas. But after they contacted this paper, and the article created some fuzzy buzz, the authority’s ears pricked up, one rescuer said.
“The article generated a lot of power and, to make it short, I just came home with the last cat from the station today,” said dogged cat-rescuer Jose Hidalgo. “The MTA came through, and they were very nice about it. They removed one panel there, we put the traps, and one by one we pulled [the cats] out.”
Hidalgo met with transportation authority big wigs, animal control, and Bensonhurst trap-neuter-and-release mavens Ferals in Peril in the days following the article’s publication, and got the wheels turning an extraction plan, he said.
“We had a big-deal meeting with the MTA,” Hidalgo said. “They were very accommodating. Then boom — on Wednesday, we started the trapping.”
Two days later, four cats that had been living in the station were liberated, he said. Now vets are giving the cats the full work-over at a Bath Beach limo dispatch that doubles as a trap-neuter-and-release clinic and half-way house for wild cats.
There may be two more mousers still in the station, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will continue to work with experienced rescuers to make sure all the animals are removed safely, a spokeswoman said. But she warned against other feline fans trying to speed the process along.
“We strongly advise against attempts by members of the public to catch or rescue these cats on our property because of the potential dangers involved,” said authority spokeswoman Marisa Baldeo.
The authority does not have a standard policy for handling animals that wander into stations and onto tracks, but it does its best to remove animals without injury, she said. In 2013, the authority halted service along the B and Q lines in Brooklyn when two adorable kittens found their way onto the Church Avenue station’s tracks.
Hidalgo already has homes for the freed foursome. Many feral cats are not given to the domesticated life, but these felines are friendly, he said.
“They’re tame!” Hidalgo said. “We’re petting them and everything.”