Feral Cats of Riverside Park

Feral cats live in urban parks throughout New York City.  Yesterday I went looking for Riverside Park’s small feral cat colony to see how they had weathered Hurricane Sandy and last week’s Nor’easter.

First I spotted evidence that the cats’ caretakers were still on the job.

Of course, Riverside Park is home to a few other animal species who may happily partake of whatever food and water is put out for the cats. The food bowl was empty, and the water bowl was spilled. Hmm. Could be the work of the local raccoon family, although I haven’t seen them around much lately.

But who’s that behind prison bars?

Let’s draw a little closer.


After a couple of minutes, the tortoiseshell cat disappeared into the dark recesses behind it, and its amber stare was replaced by this pale green stare.

So as far as I can tell, the cats are fine.

Dealing with feral cat colonies is a complex ecological and moral issue. For more on NYC’s feral cats and the Trap-Neuter-Release program that sustains them, visit Lives of City Cats: The Working and the Feral.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2012, cats, Domestic animals, Fall, In the City, NYC Parks, Riverside Park, Seasons

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10 Comments on “Feral Cats of Riverside Park”

  1. Mr. Mantooth Says:

    I’m a cat who plays trumpet at a jazz club — dig your blog.

  2. Daniel Says:

    Woah! Lot’s of cats!

  3. It’s an ironic paradox. We’ve domesticated a species which is inherently a carnivore, bred it for our own selfish purpose, wreaked havoc with the numbers and abandoned it to become feral. I rather feel for the cats! Need stronger restrictions on pet ownership?

    • Yup, very true. I would say yes, certainly, to stronger restrictions on pet owning (there being virtually none for cat ownership that I’m aware of). But I think it’s going to be a slow, if necessary, process to get cat owners & advocates to accept that these wonderful creatures do indeed wreak havoc, as you put it, on the environment.

  4. Andre Says:

    Cats are another example of humans introducing non-native species. Outdoor cats – whether feral or pets – decimate bird populations. Spay/neutering is one thing… but feeding them only causes more problems… and probably helps out rats and mice the most.

    • You’re right about outdoor cats decimating bird populations. It’s a national problem. And I suspect you’re right, in general, that actively maintaining cat colonies by feeding contributes to our rodent problem. (Which in turn leads to the well-publicized deaths by secondary poisoning of our red-tailed hawks who prey on the rats we poison.) What a mess. In general, I feel strongly that we should not feed wildlife (bird feeders excepted, in most cases). Logically, that should include “feral life,” as well. But as I said below in reply to fremont110293, my thoughts about feral cats continue to evolve. Thanks, Andre, for the comment.

  5. Thank you for publicizing this worthy organization and the angels of mercy who hit the streets every day, rain or shine.

    • I actually have mixed and evolving feelings about the whole issue as the ecological implications of feral cat colonies turn out to be rather dramatically destructive of native birds and other small creatures that did not evolve defenses to these invasive predators. But at the same time my heart goes out to cats trying to survive in an environment as harsh as NYC. Clearly the population needs to be controlled, and I don’t like the lethal alternatives to trapping, neutering and releasing (TNR or TNVR). I’d like to see objective statistics on population reduction over time. Getting people to neuter their pets at as young an age as possible is essential, as is providing low-cost and free neutering services. More challenging is transforming pet owners’ ideas about cats needing to be outdoors, as a rule.

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