Bill Morris in Legal/Financial on May 11, 2016
While I was subletting a condo in the East Village a few years ago, a misguided soul arrived by bike every evening to lay out bowls of food for the dozen feral cats who lived in the garage and parking lot across the street. I asked him to stop, suggesting he was contributing to the growing number of feral cats in the city – while simultaneously abetting the neighborhood’s soaring rat population. Well-fed cats don’t hunt rats, I argued. The good Samaritan wasn’t hearing it.
Now a reader of the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times has rallied to my cause. A woman in Riverdale leaves bowls of food around the neighborhood for feral cats. The cats, in turn, treat the reader’s garden like a litter box and, worse, the food attracts skunks. “What recourse do I have?” the reader asks.
“The likelihood of success of a nuisance suit against the cat lady would be slim,” says attorney Jonathan Newman, for the simple reason that feeding cats is legal in the city.
Better to contact the city’s Feral Cat Initiative, run by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. They run a so-called “trap-neuter-return” program that, theoretically, will reduce the feral cat population over time.
The mayor has not yet come up with a program to reduce the number of people who feed feral cats.
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