Residents on Clement St. are growing increasingly frustrated with a population of cats living on vacant property at the end of the street, and the city is having trouble finding a solution.
"The smell is bad in the summer. People don't barbecue outside," said Ornella Gallizzi. She lives in one of the homes across from 83 Clement St., an empty house at the end of the dead end where she estimated at least 10 cats live.
They don't live in the house, just on the property - free to roam into neighbors' yards and to use any convenient spot as a litter box, as one of Gallizzi's neighbors recently complained at a town hall meeting at Landing Elementary School.
The empty house belongs to a woman who used to own a number of cats before she moved to a nursing care facility, according to deputy mayor Maureen Basdavanos. The felines are now the only ones who call the place home, using a variety of shelters, some made of straw and wrapped in plastic, built for them in the backyard.
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There are a few people who feed the cats regularly, among them a woman who is a friend of the home's owner. Basdavanos said they met after the woman became concerned for the animals' welfare should the property be sold.
"We tried to work out an agreement that she would try and socialize some of them at a time and bring them to the shelter as adoptable, but nothing ever came of it," said Basdavanos.
The Glen Cove Animal Shelter got involved, trapping, spaying or neutering what cats they could catch, ear-tagging them and releasing them to the same spot. The shelter is at capacity for cats and can only take one or two at a time, Basdavanos said.
Shelters in other municipalities won't receive them because they're from another locale, she explained. That leaves the city with few options as far as removal.
Basdavanos, a self-proclaimed cat-lover, said the issue has been ongoing for several years.
Gallizzi expressed no disdain for the animals, and with winter approaching she said she is concerned for their well-being.
"I feel sorry to see the cats like this," she said.
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