The local non-profit Greenpoint Cats is checking in on abandoned bodega cats.

Becky Wisdom, co-founder of Greenpoint Cats, says that taking care of just one of Greenpoint’s multiple cat colonies can be lot of work during normal times. “There’s a lot of vet visits; one gets sick, one gets in a fight with a racoon,” she said. Wisdom has tended to a Franklin Street colony since April of 2018, and has since grown her reach beyond Greenpoint with the help of a network of volunteer cat rescuers.

With the arrival of the pandemic, Wisdom noticed that bodegas and delis began shutting down, some leaving behind their shop cats, such as the cat at Franklin Deli and Grocery (111 Franklin St.), which she has since confirmed is still being fed.

Wisdom and Greenpoint Cats core member Magdalena Travis say that three more people have since reached out to their group with reports of potentially abandoned bodega cats as word of their mission spread this week via Instagram.

Wisdom and Travis shared a statement regarding Greenpoint Cats’ effort:

Since Mid/late March when stores began closing due to the Covid crisis, we’ve feared we might begin seeing abandoned shop cats and in the past week we’ve looked into a few different locations where we heard there might be cats that had been left behind. Additionally, we’ve found two distressed friendly cats in the neighborhood that we suspect are displaced shop cats. (One cat has already been adopted, the other is in our care and will be available for adoption soon.)
We are encouraging both residents and store owners to help ensure the safety and well-being of shop cats during the crisis. If you notice a store has closed and you recall a cat was living there, place an inquiry with the owner or landlord….or with us! We can also help arrange for foster for cats that are either temporarily displaced or are not receiving sufficient care inside the store while it’s closed.

Wisdom says that the group became more attuned to the living conditions and care of bodega cats after rescuing Lily, a cat that was in poor health and living in the basement of a grocer on Manhattan Avenue for years before closing in October 2019.

The four core members of Greenpoint Cats have spayed or neutered over 40 cats this year alone, but as licensed rescuers within the temporarily closed ASPCA network they face challenges in accessing affordable veterinarians: “Like other rescue groups, we’ve had to slow down our TNR (trap, neuter, return) and spay/neuter services significantly due to the ASPCA closing during the Covid crisis,” Wisdom said.

Getting cats spayed and neutered can be costly without the help of the ASPCA she says: “Because they are closed for the foreseeable like so many things, we instead take them to an affordable vet in Coney Island. Because if we were to do each cat at a regular vet it can be $500 – $800 to spay a female and about $200 – $300 for a male.”

Greenpoint Cats in action
While Greenpoint Cats remains focused on their core mission of reducing and caring for the outdoor cat population of North Brooklyn, the volunteers are also on call to rescue cats from coronavirus patients’ homes as well as shuttered bodegas.
The virus’s arrival during the spring breeding season has made for busy times tracking down stray cats and kittens, and the volunteer group could use more help.”There’s kind of a saying that any female cat outside in March is already pregnant,” Travis said. “We’re dealing with a deluge of kittens being born in backyards and basements.”

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