Maybe not, but we heard an interesting real estate related story about cats.
A building on the site of 778 Onderdonk Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens, was in the process of being demolished, when construction workers and neighborhood residents realized that the site was not empty. More than 40 cats, which had been left by a former tenant who had hoarded them in her apartment, were living in crawl spaces and throughout the building.
If you are an animal lover, brace yourself for this news. DNAinfo reported on Thursday, July 31st that dozens of cats were found dead, emaciated or injured in the building after demolition had commenced. When construction began in mid-July, neighbors started to smell the odor of cat urine coming from the building.
A few days later, it was reported in the New York Times that demolition was stopped after a group of women from the neighborhood and animal rescue organizations intervened with the owner, Isaac Silberstein. The first cat sightings were by a neighbor who saw a cat leap out of a dumpster where workers were unloading debris from the construction site. The neighbors then started to complain to the Department of Buildings to try and get the construction halted.
Luring the cats out of the building has been a concerted effort by neighbors and rescue groups including A Tail of Two Kitties. About 20 cats have been trapped and taken to shelters. The other half of the bunch are most likely still in the building, difficult to trap and given new homes. Even with the assistance of Animal Care Centers of NYC (the City’s animal control agency) some cats were still in the building.
A private company was brought in by Silberstein to remove the cats but their methods provided to be inhumane and ineffective. Apparently they sprayed bleach to drive out the cats with the smell. The smell, not to mention the inhumane procedure, upset the neighbors. The neighbors then offered their own solution: they would rescue the cats themselves.
Dolores Benefatti, 62, who lives near the building, described going into the space to see what was going on. She said, “We went in with lanterns. There were cats everywhere,” she said, describing stepping over clumps of debris in the gutted building. “Every two steps you took, there were cats flying by you.” Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, we read that the team even found a kitten with an umbilical cord still attached. (It later died.)
What is the status now? The building has been closed to the original rescuers, per the city, and the property manager has promised that no more work will be done until all the cats are out. Several groups are raising money to help with medical bills and food for the cats.
Being both cat and dog owners ourselves, this story really hits home. Hopefully all the kitties will be rescued and will go on to live happier lives than they have had so far.