There’s more than one way to skin a rat.
A Brooklyn Heights resident says an army of feral cats is the solution to the neighborhood’s rat problem, but a Marine Park exterminator says that’s just pussy-footing around. The Heights resident says upcoming work on the Brooklyn Heights Library and Brooklyn-Queens Expressway will have rats crawling by the thousands to hide amongst the construction detritus — which, as neighbors of Atlantic Yards will tell you, they are wont to do — and officials need to start exploring out-of-the-box solutions to the problem.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Roberto Gautier, who lives on Cadman Plaza West. “It’s a tradition to always see cats around restaurants, kitchens, and grocery stores to get rid of the rats.”
But the plan is quixotic — and a little lazy, the Marine Park exterminator said.
“New York City is always going to have a rodent problem, and rather than residents depending on feral cats to take care of the problem, they should take steps to eliminate the rodents,” said James Molluso, who owns Northeastern Exterminating and recommends the Heights residents do a better job tying up garbage bags and securing trash can lids.
Gautier, who is on the community advisory committee for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway maintenance, is proposing the city copy a program from Chicago — the “rattiest” city in the country, according to pest control company Orkin — in which people pay $500 dollars to command their own killer pussy platoon — which come with all their shots, spayed and neutered, and an outdoor shelter to live in — in patrolling a territory for the disease-ridden pests. The developers could even foot the bill, he suggested.
And one Windy City woman says the idea isn’t as hair-brained as it sounds — she adopted a trio of feral felines to police her area as part of the aforementioned Cats at Work program, and her once-skeptical neighbors are now thrilled with their vermin-free block.
“It’s very effective,” said Anne Beall, who wrote a book about the program’s success. “At first people were laughing at us, saying that it was kind of silly, and then people started thanking us.”
But not everyone is crazy about the wild scheme — Chicago avian aficionados say the untamed kitties are more interested in catching birds than difficult-to-devour giant rats, and have labeled the cats an invasive species, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
Gautier, however, remains steadfast in his dream, and plans to petition elected officials with his plan at an upcoming Brooklyn Heights town hall meeting starring Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill), Assemblywoman Jo Ann Simon (D–Brooklyn Heights), and state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Boerum Hill).
Levin — who garnered accolades from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals last year when he rescued a feisty pregnant cat off the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway — declined to offer his thoughts on the idea.