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Devoted Woman Caring For West Harlem’s Feral Cat Colony Finds Them A New Home

Devoted Woman Caring For West Harlem’s Feral Cat Colony Finds Them A New Home

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The majority of dedicated cat lovers are no strangers to helping felines in need. However, the heroine of today’s story is definitely going above and beyond for her feral feline neighbors. 

Meet Liz Waytkus, a passionate cat enthusiast and resident of New York City’s West Harlem neighborhood, who’s been looking after a colony of feral cats living on a vacant lot at 142nd Street and Riverside Drive.

Liz gained recognition for founding West Harlem Cats, a group that daily provides food for local feral cats, seeks permanent homes for those willing to live with humans, offers veterinary care when needed, and conducts TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) services.

This West Harlem cat colony has over ten feral felines, each with their own unique personality, and thanks to their friendly neighborhood cat whisperer, they all have names. 

There’s Jacques, “the Romeo of the cat colony,” and Norma known as their “resident crazy girl.” Sweet Pea, Red, Sarah, Chubby, and many other adorable felines make up this loving group.

Initially, when Liz moved to West Harlem, there were around 30 cats in the colony, none of whom had undergone the TNR process

Despite reaching out to New York City’s animal control department and certain nonprofits, Liz found it challenging to receive assistance

However, with determination, Liz and her neighbor Sabine Walker enlisted certified TNR practitioners and neutered most of the cats, finding homes for about 25 of them.

The remaining few were considered “too feral” to live indoors. Thankfully, living in this cat colony, with people like Liz to watch over them, proved to be the best option. As Liz puts it:

“This is where they were born. They’ve lived outside their entire lives. This is what they know.”

However, in the last few months, a problem has arisen for Liza and the whole West Harlem Cats community.

In The Face Of A Problem

The lot where they reside is privately owned and undergoing construction, necessitating a move to a new location for these felines. 

As you can imagine, relocation is challenging for both the community and felines. As Sabine explains:

“It’s very hard for cats to be relocated because they are more place-bound than people-bound. I’m a little worried about the older ones because they have spent all their lives in these gardens.”

Nonetheless, Liz and her community recognized the importance of moving the cats rather than exposing them to construction risks.

Fortunately, Liz found a new home for her furry friends at Painter’s Hill Farm in Mountaindale, NYC. It’s a 90-minute drive from their old location and is the picturesque residence these city felines deserve.

Also, with a little help from her friend Thomas Zoranski, she managed to trap all the cats and send them off to their new abode.

Saying goodbye to her beloved feline friends wasn’t easy for Liz, as taking care of them brought countless cherished memories. As she wrote on West Harlem Cats’ Instagram:

“The sad reality of development in NYC where everyone including cats get evicted. I lived in one of these homes, which makes it all that much harder. I will miss my furry friends and all of the great neighbors I got to know over the years. Your generosity to help when cats needed medical procedures and the time you took to stop and chat about the cats or whatever was going on will stay in my heart forever long beyond whatever awful building goes up on this corner.”

It’s hard to remain positive when you lose something or someone you hold so dear to your heart. Liz is dealing with this like a true heroine she has proven herself to be! 

Her commitment gives hope to all strays and ferals that they may encounter someone like her on their outdoor journey.

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