Greenwood Heights man is not feline so fine

The Brooklyn Paper
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The feral cat’s out of the bag — and it’s in Aaron Brashear’s backyard!

The Greenwood Heights activist is understandably feeling catty after spotting a pair of crooks attempt to release a cat from a cage in front of his 23rd Street home on May 26.

“I like cats — but feral cats dig and [poop] in my garden,” said Brashear, a graphic designer so well-known in the tiny community between the Prospect Expressway and the Green-wood Cemetery that he is often called “the Mayor of Greenwood Heights.”

“They kill migratory birds that pass through the area. They spray. They’re a nuisance.”

Brashear confronted the two men as they removed the trapped kitty — a tiger-striped feline — from their white van in the morning.

“What the heck are you doing? Is that a feral cat?” Brashear claims he asked the cat handlers, whom he described as being in their late 50s or early 60s.

“Are you releasing that feral cat in front of my house and into Green-Wood?”

“Well of course I am! Why wouldn’t I?” one of the kitty crooks allegedly responded.

But Brashear was no scaredy-cat.

On this occasion, he told the men that their actions were illegal, and the feline felons drove off with the feral cat in tow.

Even though the cat trappers didn’t release the feral kitty in front of Brashear’s home, that doesn’t mean they didn’t come back to the neighborhood the very next day.

“We have a real feral cat issue here,” said Brashear, who told The Brooklyn Paper the wild cats often live in backyard, construction sites, and Green-wood Cemetery‚ which they have turned into a veritable cat-acombs.

Community Board 7 Chair Randy Peers is not surprised.

“It’s a quiet, desolate area, and unfortunately that attracts people to the neighborhood who want to do illegal things,” said Peers. “If you are going to release any type of stray or wild animal, you are going to do it near one of the largest green spaces in Brooklyn.”

Experts from New York Animal Care and Control couldn’t confirm whether or not there is a feral cat problem in Greenwood Heights.

“We received a few calls from Park Slope for cats in traps,” said spokesman Richard Gentles. “We have not received any calls about anyone releasing cats.”

But Greenwood Heights resident Eric Schutzbank says the strays are a fixture in the quiet community.

“I have lived in two different apartments in this neighborhood and both of them had a host of feral cats that lived around the building,” said Schutzbank, who claims the feral kitty problem is furthered by Greenwood Heights cat lovers who leave the homeless beasts bowls of milk and cans of food.

“When they’re not in heat, it’s not that bad — they’re just dirty mangy cats walking around,” he said. “But when they’re in heat, you can hear them moan all night. There is nothing more terrible than hearing a cat hiss and cry all night because it’s trying to get laid while you’re trying to sleep.”

This isn’t the first time that cats have driven Brooklynites crazy. Last summer, a Carroll Gardens man took a trip to the psych ward after a frenzied attempt to convince rescuers that a short-haired feline was trapped behind the wall of a neighbor’s apartment. In point of fact, there was a cat trapped in the wall, but that only became clear later on.

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Auntie Sue from Fox River says:
Hey Aaron,

good article. I love dogs and cats, but when people do not care for them as they should, and they think somehow letting the cats or dogs have a life by being "wild", they are waiting for a BIG problem to build and happen right in their area.

I have lived in rural areas all my life. There were always the people who thought they could not care for or did not want their animals and so they would dump them in the countryside. Our home in MA was overrun by 6 kittens and some adults because the neighbor would not be responsible and have the cats neutered or spayed but then just turned out the kittens to the woods behind our house. I used have-a-heart traps and trapped all of them. Some were so sickly they had to be put down. Some found homes. Some were too feral and wild to make good pets and were put down. Hope you find a solution for the problem, especially in the cemetary. Susan Darling
June 8, 2009, 8:36 pm
Tom Toomey from Greenwood Heights says:
Nice article Ben. It's unfortunate that our corner of Greenwood Heights is seen as a dumping ground for all sorts of things (on my block between 5th and 6th Aves it seems to be garbage in front of the ConEd station. Some cats on 23rd Str, however, get celebrated on walls. The indoor ones and the outdoor street cats. Check out the blog about my cat mural taking shape on 23rd Str.
June 9, 2009, 9:23 am
Julius Erving from Kensington says:
Feral cats seemed to be an almost unquestionable presence growing up in Brooklyn. Regular folk suffered no immediate threat from their residing in our hood. But like most douche attempts at civility- Brooklyn must change to accommodate the feeble.

June 9, 2009, 2:59 pm
ebanks from greenwood says:
despite their seemingly "unquestionable presence" in the past, these cats do neither the neighborhood residents nor themselves any good by collecting in the alleys. while there may be no "immediate threat", such conditions are unhealthy for both.
June 9, 2009, 5:11 pm
barry from brooklyn heights says:
would you rather have rats cats are a clean good thing
June 9, 2009, 7:40 pm
WM Tweed from Greenwood Cemetery says:
Hey I'm on the other side of the fence, I'm trying to rest, get those cats out of there.
June 11, 2009, 10:31 pm
Hillary says:
Wow, I've never heard such selfish crap before. Instead of whining about the problem, why don't the residents do something about it? These cats didn't choose to be there, they didn't choose to be abandoned or born on the street. Their lives are miserable enough and these people are angry that someone is showing the smallest bit of compassion by giving them food.

Try learning a little about feral cats and what can be done about them. There are even rescuers who will TNR the cats if someone can pay for their expenses. Aaron Brashear and Eric Schutzbank sound like really wonderful, caring human beings.
June 21, 2009, 4:21 pm

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