Caring for the cat colony

To the Editor:

The situation of the feral cat colony at the A&P location has been ignored by the City of Bayonne for years. Previous administrations have been made aware of the “dumping” and “abandonment” of many cats and kittens over the years and turned a blind eye. Many caring people would go to the A&P parking lot to feed the cats every day. They set up make shift shelters for the cats as well. Many times, these humanitarian care givers were ticketed by the Bayonne police for feeding the cats! How disgraceful! No one was ever ticketed for dumping animals there and for that the city of Bayonne must bear some responsibility.
That being said, now the property is being redeveloped and the cats must be removed. Meetings were held with the City and various animal rescue groups. The Mayor assigned the task to Mr. Tom Cotter who in turn gave the project of the relocation to Ms. Kathleen O’Malley who is currently the president of the Hudson County Animal League. It must be noted here that the City was given $10,000 by the contractor of the A&P property to remove the cats humanely. Most of the cats have been trapped and relocated to the new site. There is however one very concerning problem that will undoubtedly effect the safety of the cats. The relocation site is very near to a heavily trafficked area, which goes completely against the guidelines set forth by many national animal rescue groups who promote TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return). Ms. O’Malley and the City are quick to point out that they are following the guidelines for relocation of feral cat colonies set forth by Alley Cat Allies. This is not the case here. The guidelines clearly state that relocating the cats is absolutely the last resort as it is rarely successful. If relocation must take place, the relocated cats should never be put near a busy road or flood area. The new location does not conform to these the guidelines. Since feral/community cats are territorial, some will try to return to their original colony, the A&P. A fence with a barrier to prevent the cats from leaving the property was offered to the city as a donation, both to Mayor Davis and to Mr. Cotter. As of today, the offer has not been accepted. Instead, the city will let the cats out of the sheds that are currently located at the relocation site. The cats will be confused, frightened and most surely will leave the property and be killed trying to return to the only home they have ever known. In meetings with Mr. Cotter, Mayor Davis and the city council, all were advised of the guidelines and how not securing the property with a fence/barrier would result in the death of some of the cats. The people who were involved with the relocation project are refusing to have a fence/barrier installed at the new colony site claiming that a fence makes the property a “zoo.” The goal here is to protect these poor creatures. God knows they haven’t had much of a chance at a good life so far. The primary caretakers of the cats are in favor of having a fence with a barrier to keep the cats safe and have stated as such to the people involved in the relocation project. It seems that Ms. O’Malley is the one who is staunchly opposed to the fence, preferring to let the cats “roam freely.” If they were being relocated to a farm (and I don’t think there are any farms here in Bayonne) the safety of the cats would not be an issue.
If any of these cats are killed after they are released from the new site, trying to return to the A&P then let their deaths be on the conscience of Mayor Davis, Mr. Cotter, the City Council of Bayonne and Ms. O’Malley!
Mr. Mayor, you have the final say in whether to accept the donation of the fence/barrier for the relocation site, do the right thing and approve the fence!
Bayonne Feral Cat Foundation
Kathleen Henderson
Phyllis Melito
Adelaide Laurie