Belleville cat group needs your time, talent & treasure

It isn’t really well known, but there is a large population of stray and feral cats living in Belleville.  On a daily basis, a small group of volunteers take care of the feeding of 100 of them in more than 15 colonies throughout the township and its immediate outskirts.

Many of the cats feral because they avoid human contact or touch. Others are more aptly described as “stray” — either lost or abandoned by owners who have found their way to a colony. There are simply too many cats and too few people to help feed these cats daily.

This volunteer group is in desperate need of finding more volunteers to keep feeding the cats. Since people are facing economic hardship, ideas include residents of the street in which one of the colonies reside getting together in the community spirit and sharing the feeding of that colony. The group continuously works on obtaining donations from the community so the cost of the food does not fall on the individual caretaker.

Many of these cats have been residing here all their lives, typically in apartment complexes, behind restaurants and on private properties either having been born of feral parents or abandoned by human pet owners.

Also, the group’s efforts to lower the number of community cats is hindered by residents who do not spay/neuter their cats who then procreate with the community cats. A heartbreaking challenge faced is non supportive neighbors thoughtlessly destroying the shelters designed to keep the cats warm and safe in frigid temperatures.  Sadly the group has experienced cats dying from hypothermia. Although these cats are resourceful survivors, the colonies require the care and feeding of caretakers to keep them safe from harsh elements or worse such as wandering in search of food and shelter into dangerous situations (crossing streets, entering unfriendly territories, etc.)

An additional challenge is the encroaching construction which threatens territories or the introduction of a new “landlord.” Thankfully many people are supportive of the community cats thanks to the adorableness of the cats themselves and the advocacy of colony caretakers.

Like humans, the cats should have the right to “age in place” in the only homes they have ever known. By working collaboratively with TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) groups and low cost veterinarian clinics, 95% of the cats cared for by this group have already been spayed/neutered and they are working on the remaining 5%.

Behind each community cat lies a unique story, and these volunteers have come to know them by name. There’s “Momma”, “Roly”, “Tiger”, “Oreo”, “Romeo”, “Fluffy”, “Sylvester”, “Garfield”, “Ralph”,” Penny”, and many more. Volunteers also navigate the dynamics amongst the cats, understanding which ones relish the company of others and which prefer their separate feeding stations. If deemed adoptable, the group endeavors to find loving homes for them. Despite their differences, all these cats share a common bond — a dependence on the volunteers for care.

An ongoing effort also includes working with local TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) groups which are  recognized and encouraged by New Jersey Statute 4:19-15.9.  This statute aligns with the state’s commitment to humane and non-lethal methods for controlling stray and feral cat populations. Additional laws are in place to protect these animals, making it illegal to harm feral cats according to New Jersey Statute 4:19-15.1.   TNR is a humane and effective approach to managing stray and feral cat populations by trapping, spaying/neutering, and returning them to their environment, breaking the cycle of reproduction therefore keeping the numbers under control

We urge you to take a moment to educate yourselves about the struggles faced by our community cats and caregiver groups.  The small group of volunteers highlighted in this article is making an active plea for support whether in the form of time, resources, or spreading awareness.

The number one need now is dedicated volunteers to help feed the cats.

For questions or to contribute resources and or talents to this volunteer group, please reach out to our group at:

Their Wish List consists of the following urgent needs:

  • RESPONSIBLE & COMMITTED volunteers to feed;
  • Cat food donations.
  • Assistance with building shelters and transporting.
  • Support local TNR groups.
  • Please consider fostering a cat recovering from spay/neuter surgery who may be appropriate for adoption.
  • Fostering a friendly fully vetted cat while we look for a home for the cat.
  • Veterinarians to assist with low-cost medical care.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.