© Clayton Hauck photography / claytonhauck.com

Oh, the life of a bodega cat – no shortage of mice to chase around or cardboard boxes to lounge in, lots of friendly neighbors to stop by and scratch you on the head and, of course, freedom to do as you please in or outdoors – including having lots of cute, furry babies!

While of course everyone loves a sweet, fluffy pile of kittens, we probably can all agree that spaying and neutering efforts are necessary, for our furry friends’ own sake. Happily, the Assembly has just passed a bill this June that will help fund an effort to curb New York City’s homeless animal population.

Why should we care about a bill that prevents more cute kitty cats from being born? Well, simply because it’s the humane thing to do. As of last spring, possibly close to million animals in NYC made places like alleyways, abandoned buildings, city parks and junkyards their homes. And millions of potential pets end up in shelters every year with nowhere to go, the majority of them facing a death sentence for being guilty of nothing other than having no home.

“We want people to contribute to spaying and neutering of animals in an effort to reduce the homeless population,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) of the bill he sponsored. “It’s cruel to have cats out there that aren’t going to be cared for.”

This piece of legislation, introduced since 2003, would give taxpayers an option to donate some cash to the Rescued Animals Spay and Neuter Fund, another one of Assemblyman Lentol’s efforts to curb the homeless animal population and prevent needless animal deaths. If it passes, taxpayers would see a new checkbox on their return that would allow a contribution to the fund.

You probably can't tell, but Mimi totally approves

Of course, the best contribution a New Yorker can make is a direct one – by educating themselves, volunteering at animal shelters, and participating in local and grassroots efforts. All it takes to create a better city for our furry companions is some love and a little leg (or paw) – work.

There can never be enough kind folks to help out at animal shelters, adopt pets or donate: find out how you can become one of them. Or find out how you can help protect New York City’s feral cat population from overpopulation and disease though initiatives like Trap-Neuter-Return, a collective effort to humanely trap and spay / neuter and vaccinate stray and feral cats – there’s a call right now for volunteers to help feed feral cat colonies in Greenpoint. Or just do what I did, and do a Google search for the many ways to pitch in to help homeless and shelter animals in NYC.

Your local bodega cat will thank you.

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