There is something strange going on in the boroughs of New York City. Cats, and even some dogs, are going missing without a trace. Many of the cats are from feral colonies that have caregivers. Mary Witty, one of the caregivers in the Astoria neighborhood, wonders if someone's poisoning the cats, or doing something else to harm them.
According to a story on the New York Village Voice, more than 60 cats have disappeared from the Astoria neighborhood over the last four months. Mary Witty, one of the caregivers, said they seemed to disappear one by one. She wasn't worried at first, because it's not uncommon for some cats to leave and come back. However, after a few weeks, the disappearances became alarming. She suspected a neighbor, who had a history of animosity toward the cats, of doing something to them.
Poisoning feral cats and other so-called nuisance animals is, sadly, fairly common. Residents of an Orlando neighborhood were angry when they started finding dead cats and wildlife that someone had poisoned. It's against the law to poison animals there, but people do it anyway as a quick solution to what they see as a major problem.
In response, Orange County Animal Services put out a statement saying that they help with trap-neuter-return, and encouraged people with feral cat problems to reach out to them. They also encouraged citizens to report poisonings to them, because it's cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.
A 2013 article in National Geographic discussed the outrage resulting from an op-ed calling for killing feral cats. The author of the op-ed, which was published in the Orlando Sentinel, mentioned that Tylenol hadn't been registered as a poison to cats. Tylenol is very toxic to cats, and it appeared he was calling for people to use Tylenol to eradicate feral cats.
He also called TNR illegal and cruel in an updated version of the piece.
According to the National Geographic article, Alley Cat Allies says that poisoning cats in any way violates anti-cruelty laws in all 50 states. Many people believe that TNR is ineffective, however, it's more effective and more humane than poisoning or eradication. Even the Audubon Society, which works to protect wild birds, doesn't support poisoning.
What's happening in New York City isn't limited to the Astoria neighborhood. Ms. Witty said that they've gotten reports of cats missing from all over Brooklyn, and of pets, including dogs, getting taken from yards in Staten Island. So the situation could be far worse than simply one person trying to get rid of cats in a single neighborhood.
If you have any information on the disappearances in Astoria, or want to report a missing cat in that area, click here.