The Town of North Hempstead is falling short on helping cats, several concerned residents said at a board meeting last Tuesday, calling for an improved trap, neuter and release program and a dedicated cat shelter to address a growing feral feline population.
Cat advocates said the town’s current trap, neuter and release program falls short, which pushes the burden onto individuals and local shelters. They also said there is no place for people to “surrender their pets,” which can lead to cats being harmed and the feral cat population growing.
“There is a significant feral cat problem within our township,” Great Neck resident Stuart Kroll said.
North Hempstead has a dog shelter in Port Washington, run by the Division of the Animal Shelter, but it does not accept cats. North Shore Animal League America, also located in Port Washington, accepts cats and dogs but is not run by the town.
Manuela Gattasse, a Roslyn Heights resident, said a dedicated cat shelter is needed so adoptable cats can get a home. The town also needs a dedicated trap, neuter and release program, she said. As an individual, she said, it cost her $3,900 for one cat.
“Some people say that cat lives don’t matter. They matter,” Gattasse said. “They are walking all over the place.”
Jack Hausman, the president of the Humane Urban Group, a Great Neck-based nonprofit that captures and spays cats within the town, recommended tht the Town of North Hempstead model its trap, neuter and release program after the Town of Hempstead’s.
The Town of Hempstead not only has a clinic with a veterinarian on staff multiple days a week, but the cats also get 48 hours to recover on site, he said.
“Many constituents who are concerned with the welfare of feral cats would love to trap them, but they do not because they have no place for recovery of the cats after surgery,” Hausman said.
Shaun Brown, the town’s public safety commissioner, said the town has spayed and neutered around 3,000 cats since 2011 and called the program “robust” – but imperfect.
“It’s not perfect. We strive to do better,” Brown said. “We want to do better. But we have realities that we work with.”
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the town will further explore its options in coming weeks.
“We’re hearing what you’re saying; we appreciate the passion that you’re demonstrating,” Bosworth said. “We’ll be discussing what our options are.”