NEW YORK (AP) — Multitudes of feral cats roam New York City's concrete jungle, and some now have a practical purpose: They're helping curb the city's rat population.
A group of volunteers trained by the NYC Feral Cat Initiative traps wild cat colonies that have become a nuisance or been threatened by construction, then spays or neuters and vaccinates them. The goal is to return them to their home territory, but some end up in areas rife with rats.
Feline rat patrols keep watch over city delis and bodegas, car dealerships and the grounds of a Greenwich Village church. Four cats roam the loading dock at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where food deliveries and garbage have drawn rodents for years.
"We used to hire exterminators, but nature has a better solution," said Rebecca Marshall, the sustainability manager at the 1.8-million-square-foot center. "And cats don't cost anything."
About 6,000 volunteers have completed workshops where they've learned proper ways to trap cats.