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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Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

I was going to donate to her Go Fund Me page, but it said, "Campaign Not Found."
I hope Danielle Coogan and all involved were able to spay & neuter most or all of the adult kitties, and that the kittens found good homes!!

Alan Perez
Alan Perez2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Nicholass Scott
Nicholass Scott2 years ago

Thans for sharing...

Adam Russell
Adam Russell2 years ago

Nice work.. Impressive

Past Member 2 years ago


Earl C.
Earl C2 years ago


Juan Bell
Juan Bell2 years ago

Truly inspiring!

Past Member 2 years ago

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

Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly3 years ago

Best of luck.

Dale O.

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.