Four viscious feral cats are terrorizing the Javits Center in New York and the dirty rats in the alleys and shipping docks are fleeing for their lives.
Javits Center has a rat problem, and Sylvester, Alfreda, Mama cat and Ginger are the convention centers new Rodent brigade.
After two years of fighting the war against the vermin and racking up big exterminator bills with little result, the center’s sustainability manager, Rebecca Marshall decided to try something different and contacted the nonprofit Feral Cat Initiative for help.
Volunteers brought feral cats from their TNR program which traps-neuters- and returns ferals to their colony where they live out their lives. There are managed colonies like this across the city. Colonies are moved when the site is no longer safe for them, such as construction sites.
“The cats brought to the Javits Center were part of a “displaced colony which could no longer live where it was,” said Mike Phillips, who does community outreach for the organization and is the president and co-founder of the Urban Cat League.
“The only time we ever move cats is when it’s absolutely necessary for their survival,” he explained. “We looked for a relocation site, and they were nice enough to provide that.”
The cats are kept in an enclosed area on the shipping docks at Javits when they first arive for a few weeks to get them used to the area and being fed there.
Since initiated, the rat problem has been effectively taken care of and in the process has lowered costs and employing the cats as exterminators allows the center to keep its commitment to sustainability by avoiding rat-killing chemicals. It is also believed that the scent of the cats helps scare off rats and other vermin.
“People love seeing the cats around on the loading docks. They kind of work here now — they’re almost like employees.”