Last Tuesday, the Kearny Town Council greenlighted a plan by the TNR (Trap/Neuter/Release) program to install cat shelters and feeding stations on a section of town-owned land on Stern Ave., a paper street in the South Kearny industrial area.
TNR Administator Len Twist said that, “there’s not much room down there due to an overgrowth of brush” and that, with these improvements, it will make the cat colony there easier to control and maintain.
Twist said the shelters are being fabricated from Styrofoam with rubberized surfaces secured from a pet fish store in Clifton where they are used to line the bottom of tanks and will be 24-inch squares, being painted brown to blend in with the local environment.
These “houses” will be elevated from ground level by 18 inches and will rest on pallets donated by neighboring PSE&G, he said.
The 11-inch-wide feeding stations, also elevated but being set up in an area somewhat removed from the shelters to protect against unwelcome animal intruders, will be oval-shaped containers made of hard black plastic donated by a barrel manufacturer on the Belleville Turnpike that is relocating.
“We hope to get them done before the fall,” Twist said, before the cold weather season sets in.
Twist said the size of the South Kearny colony varies anywhere from 45 to 60.
Noting the presence of a fire hydrant along Stern Ave., Twist said the colony caregivers would be mindful of that pump and would “try and keep the cat houses and feeding stations out of the way” to allow for ready access to the pump by fire rigs.
In the eight months since the town governing body authorized a volunteer citizen TNR program to help control, care for and find permanent homes for the growing population of strays and free-roaming cats – Twist estimates there are 5,000 of those town-wide – the program has created some 27 cat colonies “all over town,” overseen by as many caregivers, Twist told The Observer.
Colonies range in size from as few as “five or six” to as many as 60, with the larger ones tending to be in industrial areas, he said.
The program is run by a six-member committee headed by Twist and ably assisted by Kathy DeRay, assistant administrator/ adoptions; Sheila Plotnic, transporter/data entry; Nichole Zanetakos, fundraiser; Krys Przybylski, fundraiser; Juliette Twist, clerical; and Toni Ann Troy, fundraiser/ foster homes.
Mayor Alberto Santos offered kudos to the TNR contingent, noting that, “Ridgefield [in Bergen County] recently adopted a TNR program and used us as its model.”
In turn, the Kearny TNR committee presented the mayor and council with a plaque, paying tribute to the town’s cat-friendly efforts.
“Without your help,” Twist told the governing body, “cats would be starving and would be getting hit by trucks.”
– Ron Leir