Carroll Gardens cats go to ‘school’ on Second Place

The Brooklyn Paper
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A koi-tastrophe is brewing in Carroll Gardens.

A rogue band of cats is on the prowl on Second Place, stalking exotic fish, threatening pet pigeons — and raising the blood pressure of the animal lover who owns the veritable menagerie.

“It’s very frustrating — I’m always worried about them attacking my fish and birds,” said Sal “The Birdman” Raimondi, the proud owner of 10 shimmering Japanese koi swimming in a $25,000 display in his front garden, and over 100 plump Canadian pigeons that he raises in custom-crafted coops in his backyard.

The problem has gotten worse over the past few months, when cats began to perch themselves beside Raimondi’s koi pond, licking their chops at the chance to get at a seafood dinner.

“They’re staring at our fish pond like they want to get them,” said Nancy Lograsso, Sal’s girlfriend.

And there’s reason to worry. Neighborhood cats have a history of violence: about five years ago, cats killed 12 of Raimondi’s pigeons.

Still, he doesn’t have a beef with the cats — nor does he want to see them sleeping with the fishes: “It’s nature. We know that. I can’t fault them.”

Block resident Vicki Devor, a cat-owner and rescuer, said a demographic shift could be aggravating the situation.

“When I moved here 15 years ago, the majority of people were Italian, and they were definitely not happy that I was let my cat out in the garden.”

But as the neighborhood changed, so too did residents’ stance on feline freedom. Now, “cat parties” are all the rage, Devor said. “They all just play and have a good time together.”

That steams Raimondi, who had few kind words for those who abandon their cats, or let them roam free. “They are irresponsi­ble!” he bellowed. “They don’t care about other people’s feelings — and they’re not too concerned for their own pets either. If you love your cat, it’s supposed to be in your home!”

Lograsso agreed. “It’s very neglectful. Would you leave your child outside like that?”

But Second Place resident, fashion designer, and cat-owner Cally Rieman would respectfully disagree. She allows her cat Samo — a reference to the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat — free reign in the network interconnected backyards on her side of the street, which is opposite Raimondi’s home.

“He visits people,” she said, insisting that the 8-10 cats who party in the backyards are not responsible for any mischief.

“Of course, I feel bad for the guy, but my cats are not responsible,” she said. “It’s nature’s way. If you don’t have your yard fenced in, and cats have the opportunity to eat fresh fish, I’m sure they will.”

Raimondi said his hope is that the cats can be caught and put up for adoption.

But experts said removing strays in not the answer — neutering them is.

“If you remove the cats from the area, other strays will take up residence,” according to animal rescuer Jennifer Lamb, the president and founder of In Our Hands Rescue.

She suggested Raimondi invest in an electric fence around the pond or install other security measures to safeguard his pets. “There’s a lot he could do if he sat back and thought about it instead of looking at the cats as a problem.”

Besides koi and pigeons, Raimondi also owns Lucas, a stately ink-black raven/pied-crow hybrid with a beak as sharp as an icepick and a disposition to match.

He’s not too concerned about Lucas being harassed by cats. “Lucas wouldn’t stand for it. He’d take their eyes out.”

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Adriana from Washington Heights says:
Cats eat fish - stop the presses!
July 6, 2010, 8:19 am
marvin says:
i like ur
July 6, 2010, 10:28 am
Unreal from east coast says:
It is not nature's way - cats have no natural place in any north American ecosystem. People need to be responsible for their animals and respectful of their neighbors. Why should the property owner have to put up a fence? Unreal.
July 6, 2010, 1:30 pm
Shawn from Sunset Park says:
If this is the guy I met about 3 years ago. Please tell him it's not the CATS!! IT"S Raccoons!! Please tell the former Officer, investagate. I have a pond also, but in my back yard. Those Raccoon took out 4 of 5 of my big Kio fish in one night! We have alot of cats on the block and none...I mean none have ever jumped in the pond and ate the fish and left fish parts and fish oil flooting in the pond. So everybody here that thinks it's the CATS are 100% wrong!!! 100% wrong!!
July 6, 2010, 2:28 pm
BevD from Carroll Gdns says:
We love our cats- i do not let mine out ever. Simply that there are other loose cats in the area. I myself have a problem- one comes and smashes her paw in my cats face- while my cat is napping at night-She slams at the window- i have on many occasions told the business lady on Court ST about her cat-amongst others. Now, i hear there are 3 loose cats-that are fighting every night- Please leave your cats home- where they will be safe from this heat, other cats-that are in heat,also from passerbys that tease the cats,run them off into the street. We do have an outbreak -between oppossums-that have been in the paper- and raccoons- These are predaotrs that are not afraid of us-when we are going out to throw out the garbage or sit on the stoop. One was found raiding a garbage can-on Third St. Lady almost had a heart attack- when she opened the lid. Parks dept. should come down and do something about this problem... Especially for the young children we do have in this neighborhood- in the backyards,etc Also, for our small pets-cats-dogs,bunnies that may go out- WE LOVE OUR PETS- THIS NEIGHBORHOOD GOES WAY OUT TO LOOK OUT AND SAVE WHATEVER PET -IS IN DISTRESS OR LOST.
July 9, 2010, 12:11 pm
bryan X from Red Hook says:
Seriously. It is not cats.

The Japanese in Gardena (California) put chicken wire on their koi ponds until the fish get big enough. It's a simple measure to protect their investment which is sometimes as valuable as their house.

At that point, you pull the chicken wire off because cats are too afraid to attack fish that are as big as them.

Chicken wire... problem solved. Next.
July 9, 2010, 12:16 pm
bib from 609 says:
i wnet a cat
March 10, 2011, 1:13 pm
JF from Bensonhurst says:
hey "Da"....Get a Doberman...that'll take care of everything....
Oct. 23, 2011, 1:09 am
Jeanette from Bensonhurst says:
It is most likely the racoons, but why don't you try to put a screen over your pond, a heavy one.
Are you still SINGING,Take care now and lots of luck with your situation.
Oct. 23, 2011, 1:31 am

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