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Springtime in New York City is a time of renewal. The world comes alive with new growth and flowers. Animals of all kinds get a sudden boost of energy after a bleak winter, and many joyfully prepare to raise a family. As we know, that also includes stray and feral cats, whose populations are exploding. Lately, rescuers have been taking in literal boxes of young cats and kittens. It’s difficult to explain what the situation is like, but a picture is worth 1000 words.

A Picture Worth 1000 Words

The Brooklyn Cat Cafe shared a poignant and shocking picture from spring 2024. They say it encapsulates the dire cat crisis in NYC. The image depicts a box, a heart-wrenching sight, containing 11 adult cats (one of them in labor) and six kittens. Can you fathom the distress of stumbling upon such a scene?

“They say a picture is worth 1000 words — and we think this one sums up the cat crisis in NYC,” shared The Brooklyn Cat Cafe.

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Image via Instagram/The Brooklyn Cat Cafe

Picture A Box of Cats Near the Train Tracks

On Memorial Day weekend, a Staten Island rescuer from Paw Print Rescue shared the shocking video as they discovered the foul-smelling blue cooler. Somebody dumped it near the train tracks and left. Nobody knew how long the box had sat there but too long if only for a second.

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Inside, the cats were all alive by grace, but dehydrated, suffering from respiratory infections, covered in fleas, and overheated. In age, the adults ranged from only 9 weeks to 2 years old.

Thankfully, the rescuers found these kitties just in time. Soon after they got to them at 9 am, the pregnant female started giving birth to one more kitten surrounded by a sea of felines. All were friendly, so they had likely been pets to someone cruel who gave up on all of them in a bizarre way.

Video via Instagram/pawprintrescuesiny

At Capacity Rescue Takes in Box of Cats

With the discovery, the small rescue operation suddenly needed a village of foster providers. Not to mention, they would need considerable funds to care for a box full of sickly cats. Yet there was still hope for them. Despite being at capacity, the Brooklyn Cat Cafe took them in, where they are all doing fine after 24 hours on antibiotics.

“The six sickly kittens and cat in labor joined us last night, and they are already feeling better and starting to play after less than 24 hours on antibiotics,” the cafe shared.

Image via Instagram/The Brooklyn Cat Cafe

Certainly, these images show what independent rescue groups are contending with in NYC. And it’s the same in many cities and towns across the United States. 

“As much as we want to help every cat out there, our resources are limited. We celebrate these moments of being able to help the cats that need it most, all thanks to your donations,” they said.

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You can follow and support the Brooklyn Cat Cafe on on Instagram and Facebook. Or visit their website, where you can see their kitten cam.

How Can We Change This Picture?

As this story demonstrates, rescue groups and volunteers can’t do it all alone. They need more government funding to stem the tide. And pet guardians need to do their part by being responsible and getting their pets spayed and neutered. They can quickly multiply and then their kittens become pregnant even while they remain kittens themselves.

Of course, we shouldn’t have to explain to anyone that abandoning pets in this manner is cruel and against the law. That said, we know it can be hard to find help when rescues everywhere are overcrowded. But don’t give up! Help is there is you reach out and discuss the problem with your local Humane Society, rescue group, or shelter. These days, you can find help in many social media groups, too.

Purrhaps, local governments should consider the example of Winter Garden, Florida, which wisely allocated funds for TNR (trap, neuter, return) efforts after becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for unwanted cats. By doing so, they’re saving significant resources and costs per cat. Besides reducing costs, they are preventing more heartbreaking pictures like this tragic box of cats.

Florida has also introduced groundbreaking legislation to allow retired or semi-retired veterinarians in good standing to help with the huge need for TNR efforts. As we can see, rescuers certainly need all the qualified help they can get!

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