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Island overrun by cats: Upstate N.Y. island saturated with dumped unwanted cats

Operation: Island cats, this is the name of the campaign started by a woman to slow the population explosion of cats on an island in New York.
Operation: Island cats, this is the name of the campaign started by a woman to slow the population explosion of cats on an island in New York.
Wikimedia Commons

Feral and abandoned cats have taken over an island, but this isn’t an island off the coast of a faraway land. This is an island smack dab in the middle of New York State’s Niagara River called Tonawanda Island, according to Syracuse.com on Aug. 1.

This small island near the city of Buffalo has this cat problem because of humans and their abandonment of cats over the years. The cats on this island are not at a loss for mates, so the population just keeps growing and growing.

Wivb.com, Channel 4 News calls the island, a “paradise for cats.” Wayne Howard who lives in North Tonawanda said that “They’re just everywhere. People drop them off.” He reports that he has actually seen people dumping their cats along the side of the road.

Mike Charnock owns the Shore’s Waterfront Restaurant and Marina on Tonawanda Island, which is a tourist destination during the summer months. He says the cats are raising havoc on the island and they’ve even gotten into the boats in the marina. Unlike the summer visitors, these cats are on the 85-acre island year-round.

The cat feces are along the walkways and everywhere the cats roam are creating a disgusting mess. Charnock said “They’re multiplying horrendously.”

It has gotten so bad that a campaign is underway to trap and sterilize the felines of all shapes and sizes. While some are feral cats, others were once pets, discarded by their previous owners, which is really quite sad for these cats when you think about it.

Operation Island Cats was recently launched by Danielle Coogan who is trapping the cats and bringing them to veterinarians to have them spayed or neutered. Once the cats are fixed they are returned to the island. When she finds kittens, they are put up for adoption.

Coogan said, “This is a small island with a big cat problem.” She has averaged trapping a cat a day for the last ten days, so she’s on her way to slow the cat population explosion. It doesn’t take long to spot a cat on Tonawanda Island once you’ve arrived.

It costs about $25 to spay or neuter a cat, which can be costly for one woman to pay out considering all the cats on the island. She is hoping to get some donations to help her with the costs. Her website, Operation: Island Cats, can be viewed here. Her goal was to raise $5,000 and as of Saturday afternoon the gofundme account has raised $6,160, so she’s surpassed her goal.

The estimates put the cat population at hundreds. The felines are easy to spot as they run rampant on the small Upstate New York island.