Rats? Bring On Feral Cats, Says BHB Reader Roberto Gautier

The Brooklyn Paper reports that BHB reader, and sometime commenter, Roberto Gautier, fearing an influx of rats into Brooklyn Heights as a result of pending construction of a high rise building on the library site and major repair work on the BQE (Mr. Gautier serves on the community advisory committee for the BQE project), has suggested importing colonies of feral cats into the neighborhood. He points to a program in Chicago, rated the nation’s rattiest city

in which people pay $500 dollars to command their own killer pussy platoon — which come with all their shots, spayed and neutered, and an outdoor shelter to live in — in patrolling a territory for the disease-ridden pests.

Mr. Gautier suggests that, rather than asking local residents to pay for the cats, developers could be made to bear the cost.

The Brooklyn Paper story cites some critics of the idea. Bird loving Chicagoans have complained that the cats seem more fond of avian fare than of chasing rats. It also quotes James Molluso, owner of Marine Park based Northeastern Exterminating:

New York City is always going to have a rodent problem and rather than residents depending on feral cats to take care of the problem they should take steps to eliminate the rodents

Photo: Julie Zickefoose.

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  • http://www.bedbugs-brooklyn.com/ Northeastern Ext

    My quote was cut very short in that paper quote. I expressed that sometimes the concern of neighborhoods being over run by feral cats has its concerns. Cats will put a danger on local resources and could prevent bio diversity. They will
    Eat homeowners crops, birds, beneficial insects and other problems. Cats will prefer to feed on easier prey as rats could put up a fight. If these cats are strays and not cared for we have to worry about
    Disease spread, over population, and quality of life issues. Feral cats may kill a few rats but the bigger picture is that city agencies, local homeowners must meet together and brain storm a much better idea. The feral cats themselves will
    Eventually become pests and those will have to be trapped and contained. The rats were around
    Before us and they will be around after us. I am afraid cats are not the answer although it’s good this conversation is going on cause the rodent issue in this city is out of hand.

  • Andrew Porter

    In the bad old days of the 1960s and early 70s, there were lots of feral cats living in the basement of 60 Pineapple Street, and other abandoned parts of the St. George Hotel. They can be very loud, especially during sex, and usually at night. Back then, they did NOT do a good job on keeping down the rodent population.

  • Wally O’Keefe

    That is one rough-looking cat.

  • Roberto

    My proposal re rats has been somewhat distorted. I floated an unusual proposal for a perennial problem. It should not be seen as a definitive solution, although some areas of Chicago have benefitted from the Cats at Work program. Construction activity and proximity to the waterfront have long been linked to the displacement of rat burrows. My suggestion as written about in the Brooklyn Paper involved some thoughts about the Chicago option to see whether it might work in NYC by looking at its pros and cons. An approach that could reduce the reliance on poisons should also be researched. Obviously, to release an “army” of feral cats without adequate understanding is not my intention nor is it my “dream.” It’s clear from the response to this discussion that there are downsides to sharing our neighborhood with a large influx of our feline brothers and sisters. BTW, the mechanism of Chicago’s program can be looked up on line. I continue to think that developers should cease behaving in the strip mining tradition: profit from the environment and then leave the resulting problems for local residents.

  • http://www.bedbugs-brooklyn.com/ Northeastern Ext

    Also let it be known cats are execptional mousers but not too good at rat killing.

  • Roberto

    I welcome your balanced comments. I share your view that a solution to rats goes much beyond the Cats at Work program. It’s much more complicated. But, I recommend that we look into the responsible safeguards built into the Chicago program.

  • Willow Street Watch

    We have a four legged vermin problem in the city because of the rise of the two legged problem in the city.

    People and the behavior of certain populations cause vermin problems. People. /communities need to simply STOP FEEDING vermin. Communities have to first, not chronically place easy to access food in refuse. This is a two level problem. Chronic irresponsible behavior in inner city areas AND gentrification areas. Its the uncapped trash in inner citys, AND its the milk and thrown away food in say, park slope. Also, if, for example we want to go to quiet plastic trash bins? Fine, mandate really rodent proof models city wide. Then, really enforce with serious fines, laws mandating constant USE of basic lids on cans. If we only had increased or mandatory organic disposal units in kitchens city wide, the problem would be very greatly reduced. Its the behavior of PEOPLE starting in residential buildings which has to change. Because the problem IS getting worse.

    Think about it, how much of a rodent problem in say, 84th Street and say,14th avenue is there? Well, how much of a vermin problem is there at Livonia avenue?
    There’s your answer. Case closed

  • Willow Street Watch

    Why don’t we simply tailor a virus targeting Rhodent DNA?….Wait, will that trigger sanctions under the genocide convention?

  • Jorale-man

    I’m curious about the new trash cans in Downtown Brooklyn that are closed on top and have some kind of built-in compactor mechanism. They seem like a solution to the problem we see every summer in the Heights: trash cans overflowing onto the streets or promenade. Especially with foot traffic to the BBP growing, it’s worth considering.

  • Reggie

    Bring out the Jack Russell terriers!