Community Cats Rescues Stray Cat Population In Bedford, New York

Bedford, New York resident Penny Berk dreams of the day when she can do more than just imagine an animal sanctuary to sustain the local stray cat population. "This thing we do is not for the faint of heart," says Ms. Berk, as she and her 14 cohorts find caring for seven stray cat colonies to be "a heartbreaking thing that just kind of gets to you," she added.
Community Cats Rescues Stray Cat Population in Bedford, New York
Source - Photo by https://pixabay.com/en/cat-pet-kitten-cat-face-1536104/

Bedford, New York resident Penny Berk dreams of the day when she can do more than just imagine an animal sanctuary to sustain the local stray cat population. "This thing we do is not for the faint of heart," says Ms. Berk, as she and her 14 cohorts find caring for seven stray cat colonies to be "a heartbreaking thing that just kind of gets to you," she added.

It first got to Community Cat's founder Lynn Mannino eight years ago while out on an evening stroll. She encountered four feral cats and a small amount of food and water soon

turned into enough Friskies to fill a trunk, as she realized she wasn't dealing with a cozy little quartet of kittens.

"Within a week," said Ms. Mannino, "those four kitten turned into I don't know how many cats," which left her the queen mother of a colony of felines. Eventually she enlisted the help of an organization called Ally Cat Allies, which advocates that colonies be managed by trapping, vaccinating and neutering each cat before returning them to the colony.

Although some communities simply hire trappers thinking that by euthanizing the colony the problem will disappear. "A vacuum effect occurs," says Ms. Berk, and within six months the food source, which usually comes in the form of a Dumpster, provides nourishment for a new generation of cats.

Cats that develop disease, live in fear and suffer exposure to the elements. "They live in miserable conditions," says Ms. Berk and often come to be viewed as pariahs from the frenzied look that has been imprinted on anyone who's seen a feral cat.

Community Cat members know the look all too well from bringing cats home to recover from needed medical attention. 12 years of living on the lamb for one particular cat had Ms. Berk questioning if such an animal could ever be domesticated. She hissed and spit until she quickly realized that the unfamiliar surroundings were safe.

"She seemed so relieved to have a warm, soft bed and a regular source of food that she never even wanted to go out again," says Ms. Berk. It's a scenario that they experience over and over again, and unfortunately, many of these tales end back in the colony due to the lack of permanent homes.

The good news is they have been nursed back to


health and are free of disease. They also fill the vacuum without being fruitful and multiplying. From a single cat, after seven years under optimum conditions, 420,000 offspring could result.

So it would seem as though the businesses that unintentionally house these potential population explosions would be working with Ms. Berk. The majority are sympathetic until they are asked to make a financial contribution.

At a cost of $125 per spaying, this has become a very expensive endeavor for what Ms. Berk refuses to identify as a problem. "These animals are here through no fault of their own. They didn't ask to be born and they didn't ask to be dumped unceremoniously behind a restaurant. So I don't view this as a problem," she says, "I view it as a community responsibility."

To date, no local business has responded financially, but she's reluctant of pushing too hard and has exchanged much of the time she previously devoted to her advertising agency to fundraising for the non-profit. They do literally owe their existence to two local animal hospitals who provide services at generous discounts.

In addition, since last January, she has adopted out 237 cats to permanent homes, but eventually she hopes to evolve into a self-sustaining non-profit and convert some open space into an animal sanctuary for cats and dogs. Space that would not only impact the strays but buy Community Cats time to find homes for the many animals that are put down by shelters due to lack of space.

Maybe a long shot in expensive Westchester County, but it doesn't stop Ms. Berk from believing "that everyone of these animals deserve to be somebody's pet and deserves to be in a house with love."

More Rich Monetti

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Article Written By richmonetti

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Last updated on 28-07-2016 3K 0

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