It’s a catfight! Prospect Heights kitties caught, left in Queens

The Brooklyn Paper
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A family of cats has sparked a dogfight on a Prospect Heights block, with one woman claiming a neighbor absconded with her outdoor felines and dumped them in a Queens park.

The cat tale begins last fall, when four wobbly legged kittens wandered into Anna Pond’s St. Marks Avenue garden, sticking close to the fence and “peeking their miniature heads” above the grass. Pond and her husband, Paul, were smitten. They named the furballs Inky, Blinky, Mookie and Clyde.

“Inky became a total lover, rolling over each time Paul approached so he could rub his belly,” Pond said.

The Ponds grew so attached to their backyard kitties that they began treating them as if they were their own. They had the cats spayed and neutered. They fed them daily. When the Ponds vacationed, they had a cat-sitter watch over their frisky charges.

“They were our pets,” she said.

But this inter-species idyll soon came to an abrupt end.

In June, the couple noticed that the cats began to disappear one by one. First Clyde, then, a week later, Inky and Blinky were missing, too.

Mookie was left wandering the backyard, “mewing in an unfamiliar way, like she was crying,” said Pond.

The couple confronted its neighbor, who admitted to trapping cats and releasing them in Queens.

The neighbor agreed to speak with The Brooklyn Paper as long as her name was not published. She defended her actions as neighborly.

“When I saw five stray cats living in my backyard … I did extensive research to figure out how I could bring them to be sterilized,” said the neighbor. “All anyone could offer was to come and sterilize the cats. But I would have to first trap the cats and provide a space for them to recover from the surgery. I was not willing to do that. It was too laborious.”

Meanwhile, the cats were diminishing her quality of life. She said that she found carcasses of dead birds in her garden. Her 5-year-old grandson was afraid to venture into the backyard.

“I personally don’t think cats should be allowed outside to be exposed to cat AIDS, or to get maimed by other cats,” she said. “If I wanted a cat, I would have a cat and I would keep it in my house.”

The neighbor admits to trapping at least one cat and having a friend deposit it in Queens, possibly in Floral Park.

“I didn’t destroy it,” she said. “I didn’t hurt it. I just wanted to lower the population of cats. I thought I was doing a service to the neighborho­od.”

The Ponds don’t share that view.

“I asked her three times to find out where the cats had been taken, reminding her of my phone number, and three times she said they would call the person who had removed them,” said Pond. “Maybe they did, but they never called us back. Paul still looks at me with a sad face from time to time saying, ‘I miss the kitties. Especially Inky.’”

The Ponds brought the catnappers’ literature from Slope Street Cats, a local cat-lover organization that neuters and cares for feral cats.

“I said, ‘Thank you for explaining it to me,’” said the neighbor. “‘I will not take any of the cats away anymore, as long as you are respectful of my property and keep the cats confined as much as possible.’”

Indeed, both Pond and her neighbor agree that there needs to be more public education about alternatives to trapping and displacing cats.

“Public education is the problem,” said the neighbor. “I actually spent a lot of time trying to find alternative solutions and did not come up with anything.”

Laura Brahm, the executive director of Slope Street Cats, said trapping ferals is actually an ineffective way to get rid of them, because other feral cats will move into the now-empty territory. Brahm also said that Inky, Blinky and Clyde would probably find life in Queens unpleasant at best.

“In all likelihood they [will] starve, get hit by cars, or otherwise meet a nasty end,” she said.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Christina says:
Isnt it illegal what the neighbor did with the cats? She didnt bring them to a shelter. She might as well as dumped them on the side of the road. She took someone elses cats and dumped them in a strange place. I would say that is a charge of some kind of animal cruelty.
Sept. 27, 2007, 10:12 pm
Kat says:
So this neighbor thinks that cats should be kept in doors huh? Why did she trap them and dump them else where then? She certainly isnt doing a "service" to the neighbor hood, the cats were in her way so she needed to come up with an easy way to deal with them. I don't believe for one daggone minute what she says either.She knew these were her neighbor's cats and she deliberately did away with them.This is not the type of neighbor Iwould wanto have and yes she should be charged with animal cruelty and she should be made to tell what realy happened to those cats
Sept. 28, 2007, Midnight
l0b0t says:
Can we please torture and slowly kill this —— of a neighbor. People who are cruel to animals have abrogated their membership in human society and should be culled (in the most painful manner we can come up with.)
Sept. 28, 2007, 11:51 am
__ __ says:
it sounds very deliberate. and cruel.

Sept. 28, 2007, 6:59 pm
Dog Person Anyway says:
My question is: What constitutes a pet? If you feed a squirrel that lives in your backyard (or birds, for that matter) and they depend on you for food, is that a pet? The cat "owners" say they spayed or neutered these animals, but they didn't keep them in their house. Does having an animal spayed or neutered make it yours? Even if it never sets foot in your house? I'm not defending what the neighbors did, but I do question whether or not these cats were, in fact, pets. Seems to me they were just like any animal that lives on the street: happy to get a free meal and at risk of being hit by cars, transported or, at worst, killed by thoughtless people.
Sept. 28, 2007, 11:12 pm
kk says:
News flash: Both parties are at fault, the Ponds more than the neighbor, actually. If the cats are tame enough to be petted or easily caught, they are NOT truly feral and do NOT have to live thier lives out of doors. Depending on how tame they are, they are either immediately adoptable or adoptable after a few weeks of socialization in a foster home.. very easily accomplished with kittens BTW. These " doting outdoors owners" should have either faced up to the responsibility of owning 4 cats and let them be Indoor/ outdoor cats, or found suitable homes for them if they couldn't handle it. NYC and its boroughs is not a place where a tame cat can happily live 100% outdoors- what were they planning to do this winter, for example? Or if a cat ate a poisoned rat? ( as a cat I knew did) or got harmed by other,more feral cats? By taming them enough to be " cute:" but not realy finding true indoor or indoor /outdoor homes for them these people cheated the kittens out of a chance at normal happy lives with really responsible owners. That said, the neighbors were insane jerks for not speaking to the "owners " before taking drastic action. I have taken in, tamed, and found REAL homes for 25 feral stray cats in my 10 years in NYC, so this keeping them half- tame outdoors and calling that pet ownership is a bunch of crap. ( I only have 2 cats of my own, #4 and #25, and they are indoor/outdoor guys) It took me a YEAR to tame #25, I trapped him and had him in my house, worked with him slowly to gain his trust , and now is a loving normal happy cat with me, though slightly shy with others. It can be done. If you are going to take care of animals you shouldn't go halfway with the responsibilty. If they were only " like " pets she shouldn't be surprised other people treat the in the same casual way. ALSO why cant Ms Pond go looking for the missing cats if she cares that much? Im sure she could bring food, call to them etc... As you can tell, this half assed ownership really steams me! Its self indulgent in the every worst way....
Sept. 28, 2007, 11:23 pm
kk says:
Speaking of self indulgent in the worst way here is the killer quote: " Paul still looks at me with a sad face from time to time saying, ‘I miss the kitties. Especially Inky.’”
Is Paul, in fact 8 years old??
Did the cats miss a dry place to sleep " in the worst way" when thier " sort of " owners were asleep in thier home and they were outdoors in the summer rain storms - when with a little work they could have been tamed and had real homes of thier own..?
Sept. 28, 2007, 11:32 pm
CCL says:
Anyone who does not want cats in their backyard should spend $50 for a device called "Cat Stop". It is battery operated, small and inobtrusive. It emits a high pitched tone whenever an animal crosses in its range (you may need more than one for a large backyard to cover all the angles) and the cats do stay away! I have feral cats I feed out front that do not come to my backyard (where my dogs play) because that device keeps them away 24/7. It is simple to make sure the battery is kept fresh every 3 months or so that it keeps working. We need to spread the word so that people don't do cruel things like this to cats that are defenseless. People that don't want cats in their lives can co-habitate with those who do!
Sept. 29, 2007, 10:44 am
Kate says:
Is there really no way to try and trace and save these pets? You'd better believe that if my cat (who does live indoors, which is only kind in my opinion) were taken somewhere where he might die a slow or painful death I would do whatever it takes to get him back. Can't that heartless dumper reveal the location and let some of us who have hearts try and track the cats down? Most likely they will come if called, having been "pets".
Sept. 29, 2007, 4:23 pm
Kat says:
This lady's neighbor did not tell the location of where she let the cats go, even if she did ,it would be impossible to go looking for them .Though, I would put fliers with the descriptions of the kitties in any businesses around just in case as cats can and have found their way back to the original homes. How might I ask, do you know what this lady is doing to find her cats. I agree out doors is not the best place for a tamed cat but these cats are semi ferals and she did have them fixed and built an enclosure. Incedently I just lost one of the ferals I've had living in my house for 8 years and neither she nor her son ever tamed up so you see sometimes ferals never learn to trust but you keep on trying any way.I still would reiterate what this lady's neighbor did was animal cruelty.
Sept. 29, 2007, 9:43 pm
CR says:
"Depending on how tame they are, they are either immediately adoptable or adoptable after a few weeks of socialization in a foster home."
--Not true. After about 8 weeks of age there is significant drop in the cat's ability to be socialized. Socialization of adult cats CAN occur in a foster home, but it's a very time- and labor-intensive process that most working people do not have the resources for. And that's supposing you can even find such a foster home--there are not nearly enough out there, even for the friendliest of cats. I think the Ponds did the most humane thing they could under the circumstances.
Sept. 30, 2007, 4:34 am
JL says:
eh, lots of people have outdoor cats. i have one that i tried to convert to an indoor cat but it didn't work. after trying for months to get her to like living indoors, she again lives in the backyard. she's much happier out there, she has an open invitation to come back in any time. if my neighbor grabbed her and dropped her in the next boro, i'd be plenty ticked. it's pretty clear this was malicious no matter what she says.
Oct. 1, 2007, 12:54 pm
SM says:
They got them their shots and got them all fixed; I'd say that constitutes a pet!
Oct. 1, 2007, 5:13 pm
Fior says:
Anyone who's fond of an animal in NYC should know better than to leave it outdoors where it can't be protected 24/7. Leaving a cat outdoors leaves it vulnerable to poison, bad weather, cars, illness, abusive humans, and crazy neighbors like the one that kidnapped and dumped the three discussed here. The life of an outdoor cat in the city is typically nasty, brutish, and short. Indoors, it can be 20 yrs or more. Cats aren't toys. If they're affectionate and salvageable (or even if they're feral and need some work), take responsibility, take them in, and either give them a home or find them one...they're great company and you won't regret it.
Oct. 1, 2007, 9:36 pm
HDH says:
Surely what the horrible neighbor did was illegal! Clearly these were someone's pets and it sounds like she knew darned well whose. If she was concerned about the animals' well-being then why not call the SPCA or another similar organization?? And the remark about her 5 year old grandson being afraid to go into the garden because of the cats would be laughable if the outcome for the cats wasn't so terrible. I'm wondering - is this woman the Ponds' landlady and that's why they are afraid to file some sort of claim against her?

And yes - these cats WERE pets. They were spayed,neutered w/ shots and cared for. I think keeping them indoors would have been a better option, but not my call - not the call of the awful neighbor either.
Oct. 2, 2007, 5:16 pm
reggi from park slope says:
In the last two months all the strays that have
been in these yards for the last two years
have disappeared.
I had two very special cats that I took care of
they stayed in my yard most of the time, now
they are gone. I have no clue, no way to
search, I'm sick about it. If anyone has
any clues please feel free to contact me
I'm just sick about this.
Feb. 18, 2008, 1:18 pm

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