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New York Island Overrun By Cats, But One Woman Is Making a Difference

New York Island Overrun By Cats, But One Woman Is Making a Difference
Manhattan Island is not the only island in New York being over-populated. There is another lesser-known island on the Niagara river that has an exploding population, albeit of cats, not people. That island is Tonawanda and according to locals, the 85-acre island is now home to hundreds of abandoned and feral cats. But unlike the seasonal human residents who mainly leave in the winter, the felines live here year-round, fending for themselves – and reproducing. Exacerbating the problem are all of the people who have heard about cat island and think it is the state dump for their unwanted cats and kittens.
Local business owners and residents are feeling overwhelmed by the exploding cat population. Wayne Howard of North Tonawanda tells WIVB television that “they’re just everywhere. People drop them off. I’ve caught people dumping them on the road; they just unload them on the island.”

Apparently not a cat lover, Mike Charnock shakes his head in disgust at all of the cats roaming and defecating around his property, the Shores Waterfront Restaurant & Marina. ”They’re throughout the whole island,” Charnock tells WIVB television. “They’re multiplying horrendously; there’s just too many cats is what it boils down to.”



Fortunately, Danielle Coogan is doing more than shake her head and has launched her own trap, spay and neuter initiative dubbed “Operation: Island Cats.”  She is community fundraising with GoFundMe and, at the time of this writing, has already pulled in more than $9500 for the cause.

“This is a small island with a big cat problem,” Coogan laments. “They’re just cats that no one really cares about…”

On her Go Fund Me page, she describes the problem with a heavy heart:

If you’ve ever been to The Shores restaurant in North Tonawanda, NY or have ever visited Tonawanda Island at all, then you know there is an overwhelming number of unvaccinated, unsterilized strays living on the island. Cats & kittens roam free & can be seen sleeping under boats, on boat trailers and on boat slips stacked high. Many of these cats have been born on the island & this is the only life they’ve ever known, some have been dumped by irresponsible owners who think souls are disposable. In an attempt to clean up the island & stop this vicious cycle of reproducing in an already extremely overcrowded area, I’ve decided, along with a friend & the help of Feral Cat Focus to humanely trap as many adults as I can. They will then be transported to Operation Pets, where they will be vaccinated, sterilized, have one of their ears “tippped” & re-released back on to the island. Many of the adult cats will unfortunately, not be adoptable, as they are too wild, but at the very least they will be fixed, unable to reproduce & free to spend the rest of their days without worry on their island home.

…all of the young kittens, whom are more easily tamed will be removed, placed in foster care for socialization & put up for adoption, with a bit of time & patience these babies will make wonderful pets! As you can see this project is a huge undertaking, but one that is very close to my heart. I vow to do all I can to help these poor kitties, but it will take a lot of time & money, please help me help them by making a donation to the cats of Tonawanda Island. Every dollar goes directly to the cats, whether it be for food, supplies, transportation, vetting fees etc. no donation is too small! Please consider making a donation & a difference in the lives of these “throw away” cats!!

Kudos to Danielle Coogan for not only seeing a problem, but being willing to do something about it. Thanks to recent media coverage, her Operation Island Cat initiative has received a wonderful boost in donations and offers from other animal rescue groups to assist with her efforts.

Sometimes, it only takes one person to make a big difference. By taking a stand on Tonawanda Island, Danielle Coogan has proved again that this is true.


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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


+ add your own
11:46PM PDT on Mar 26, 2015

Truly inspiring!

11:20AM PST on Feb 21, 2015

THANK YOU. So many beauties. I'm glad you are there to help them.

10:13PM PST on Dec 29, 2014

Best of luck.

8:24PM PDT on Sep 12, 2014

This is marvellous dedication by Danielle Coogan and she is most certainly making a difference.

It is sad that people still are dumping pets, animals that trusted them to make them a part of the family when they took them in as pets. Some people are still not spaying or neutering their pets and believe that this is someone else's problem if their pet gets pregnant or gets another pet pregnant. Then, some will drive somewhere and drop the babies or other pets off somewhere if they don't take them to a shelter. Many don't bother, as some shelters will charge people a fee to help finance their, some just drop the animal off in the wild or some other area and pretend that perhaps the pet will do well as a feral.

It is good to see that there is feral TNR, but these things would not have to happen if people were not being careless in their treatment of animal companions in the first place.

7:35PM PDT on Sep 12, 2014

I'm gratified that her funding is going so well.

7:12AM PDT on Sep 5, 2014

You are welcome!

7:25AM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

Interesting article, thank you!

5:01PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

Kudos and blessings Danielle Coogan.

5:01PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

Kudos and blessings Danielle Coogan.

2:55AM PDT on Aug 21, 2014

Humane, ethical care of the animals around us is something we are required to be part of...
However, if there was another way of taking care of the domesticated animal overpopulation if the world rather than sterilization of them, I would be for it...
Microchipping is wrong, and has been linked to cancer in many pets, and has therefore led to their deaths.
Thank you all for reading and considering!
God bless all of you!
Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior!

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