Have a craving for some Taco Bell late at night? If so, you probably wouldn’t expect to save cats while at the drive-thru, but that’s not unusual for one New York City rescuer. He’s done it many times.
Paul Santell, “the Cat Guy,” is a hometown hero in Queens.
You might find Paul on a Saturday night helping cats trying to survive near a busy Taco Bell. Maybe, the feral cats couldn’t resist the leftover chalupas or beef burritos. Or purrhaps they had a craving for cheesy gordita crumbs in the wee hours of the night?
As a feral colony, the street-wise cats can’t afford to be picky. However, many of the “Taco Bell Cats” were unfixed. Without health care, there would be an explosion in the colony’s population. The cats’ health would be constantly strained as females can become pregnant even as four-month-old kittens. One cat can have over 100 kittens in a lifetime, resulting in untold thousands of cats!
Also, unfixed cats will fight a lot more, make more noise in the squabbles, and face many more health challenges and stresses. So, it’s in the best interest of everyone when rescuers practice TNR (trap, neuter, return). That’s where Paul comes in.
All-Nighters to Save the Taco Bell Cats
TNR for 25+ Cats
When Paul learned about the cat colony near the restaurant, he decided to keep going and do whatever it took to TNR the entire colony. Why? He’s seen first-hand how effective TNR is for cats.
Thanks to donations, he also feeds, cleans, transports, and medically supports the cats.
It’s challenging enough to save one cat at a busy drive-thru, much less over 25! But after two Saturdays, Paul managed to TNR that many cats. These cats were spayed, neutered, and vaccinated too, sometimes called Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR).
Here are some of the Taco Bell Cats he saved in just two nights.
Some Taco Bell Cats Become House Cats
Whenever Paul the Cat Guy traps a cat that is friendly to people, they win the cat lottery and can become foster cats. Rescuer Ashley Nicole V. helps TNR and foster the furbabies with Paul.
With patient socialization, the cats become pampered house cats and companions for their human servants. But it’s no easy task; it takes someone very caring and dedicated like Paul.
“I broke night two Saturdays in a row and trapped 25 cats,” Paul shared. “All have or will be spayed/neutered and vaccinated, with a possibility of a few of the more social ones put into the PTCG foster network. The others will be returned to their colony free from the stresses of unfixed living. Here is the last batch of ‘Taco Bell Cats’ who I returned tonight after a bunch of them got fixed this past Tuesday. I spent the day cleaning all of my traps in anticipation of tomorrow night’s action: another double-digit haul of cats near the same Taco Bell. Fingers crossed,” he shared.
“There are still more unfixed cats, and it is a challenge trapping in and around a drive-thru that’s open almost 24 hours, as well as fencing that blocks access to the wooded area which they come from. I will continue chipping away at trapping and fixing all of these guys.”
More Taco Bell Cats
Paul, the Cat Guy, does it all while working a full-time job, so he’s often “breaking night” outdoors to help cats. He helped feral cats living around a Taco Bell in 2019 too. Here are some of the cats he helped then. As you can see, they had a tough life on the street and needed help badly.
“🌮 TE QUIERO TACO BELL KITTENS 🌮 Most people equate Taco Bell at 2am with a late night food craving (at least I do 🌮). In this case, it was a kitten craving that drove me over there.”
Rescuing Cats is Paul’s Passion
Each complete TNR can cost about $140 at the least, and that doesn’t include food, laundry, medications, gas, or other unexpected expenses.
“I live the life you see in the photos,” Paul shared. “I’m outside year round, breaking night more times than I can count, helping hundreds of cats each year while working a full-time day job. Cat rescue is my passion. The work is hard, but the payoff is seeing less homeless kittens being born outside and less suffering overall.”