The Port Authority has started rounding up feral cats at Kennedy Airport, and the first of the evicted felines could be euthanized today.
About 50 cat group members unsuccessfully rallied outside Port Authority headquarters to stop the trapping yesterday, but the protesters were told the agency would pay to spay and neuter the cats if the groups relocated them.
The cat groups, however, said many of the felines couldn't be turned into house cats, and the shelter accepting them said many of the JFK kitties would likely have to be euthanized.
"We are not going to be able to hold the cats for a long period of time - it's a pretty quick decision," said Richard Gentles, spokesman for Animal Care and Control, which will try to identify adoptable cats, but doesn't have room for them all.
The Port Authority has said the cats - between 50 and 75 of them - pose health and safety problems near the Delta Air Lines cargo area partly because food left for them attracts birds that can fly into jet engines. Animal advocacy groups including the ASPCA have offered to spay and neuter the cats and monitor them on site, a practice that has decreased feral cat populations elsewhere.
A feral cat population at Rikers Island declined by about half in the past five years under a feeding and sterilizing program, according to the city Department of Correction. Neighborhood Cats, a group protesting the authority's actions, has helped cut down other cat colony populations with spaying and neutering programs, called "trap-neuter-return."
A Port Authority spokesman said yesterday that returning the cats to Kennedy Airport is not an option. "Airports that serve 50 million people are not an appropriate place for a large wild cat colony," Pasquale DiFulco said.
People interested in adopting the JFK cats or other felines can call Animal Care and Control at 212-788-4000.