(Photo by Maggie O'Neill)

10 Tips for NYC & LI TNR Caretakers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The staff of the NYC Feral Cat Initiative and Bideawee hope that you, your loved ones, your animal companions, and your community cats stay well, safe, and strong during the global coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for continuing to care for the community cats of New York City and Long Island during these most challenging times. We hope the tips and resources we’ve provided below will help you stay prepared.

1) Stay Informed

Follow the latest news and guidelines on the COVID-19 outbreak:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Nassau County
Suffolk County
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

2) Keep Feeding Your Colonies if You Are Healthy

At this time, we recommend that healthy community cat caretakers continue their regular feeding routines while maintaining proper social distancing. Please make other arrangements for your cats and stay home if you are infected with COVID-19, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, were exposed to someone who is infected or exposed, or are under mandatory quarantine.

3) Stock Needed Supplies, Designate a Cat Caretaker & Create a Pet Information Sheet

We recommend that, if possible, you have a 4-week supply of food, bottled water, and medications for both your outdoor colony cats and your indoor companion animals. Amazon.com, Chewy.com, Petco.com are delivering online orders, as are many other local and online retailers.

We also suggest that you have a designated cat caretaker(s) to take over caring for your pets and your colony cats in the event that you become ill or are hospitalized. Your emergency cat colony caretaker and pet caretaker may be two different people. Their name(s) and contact information should be listed on your ICE (In Case of Emergency) sheets and listings and be marked as “pet caretaker,” or something similar. You may want to provide them with a key to your home so they can easily access your pets in case of an emergency. Give them written and emailed locations and feeding instructions for your outdoor cat colonies, including the number of cats and colors, and veterinarian records. You should also give them written and emailed information about your indoor pets, including their names, ages, medications, veterinary records showing rabies vaccination dates, and behavioral patterns.

It is also a good idea to always have a pet emergency “go bag” packed and ready with a two-week supply of everything you would need to care for your pet(s) should you all have to evacuate your home on short notice.

4) Post Your ICE Contacts

Emergency personnel are trained to look for a list of ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts in three places:
1) Wallet
2) Refrigerator door
3) Cell phone contacts

Wallet/Refrigerator: In ink or permanent marker, write “ICE – In Case of Emergency for [Your Name]” at the top of a sheet of paper, and list the names, phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses of your emergency contacts, pet sitters, and community cat caretakers (these may be different people). Put the sheet in a plastic or laminate sleeve and place it in the first three places listed above. You may want to give a spare house key, list of food preferences and medications, and behavioral information to your ICE pet sitters.

Cell Phone: Add “ICE” as a contact in your mobile phone, and input the phone number, email address, and home address of your emergency contact. You can add an “ICE-1” and an “ICE-2” if you want to designate more than one person. Note that iPhone 11 and some other phone models offer the option to click on “Emergency Contact” when you enter or edit someone’s contact information.

5) Spay/Neuter & Veterinary Care

In compliance with state guidelines, TNR spay/neuter clinics and private veterinarians have temporarily suspended non-emergency appointments. They are only performing critical surgeries and treatments in order to protect the health of staff and clients, and to preserve crucial medical supplies. This means that few or no spay/neuter services for community cats are available for the time being. We strongly advise that you refrain from trapping until medical resources are available. 24-hour emergency veterinarians remain open. Please check the veterinary and spay/neuter clinic websites below for their latest updates.

Community Cat TNR Spay/Neuter Clinics

ASPCA
The Humane Society of New York
The Toby Project
North Shore Animal League America

Veterinary Clinics

Please call your local veterinarian for the nearest emergency veterinary hospital or search online by borough/neighborhood.

Manhattan

Uptown Veterinary Associates
295 West 112th Street, Harlem
Phone: (212) 222-1221
By appointment only, not open 24 hours. Following AVMA recommendations to only schedule appointments for sick or injured patients. Wellness visits and non-emergency care should be deferred until a later time. Mention referral code 1263 for Certified TNR Caretaker discount when booking.

BluePearl Pet Hospital
410 West 55th Street, Midtown
Phone: (212) 767-0099

Brooklyn

BluePearl Pet Hospital
190 3rd Avenue, Gowanus
Phone: (718) 596-0099

Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group (VERG) Brooklyn
196 4th Avenue, Gowanus
Phone: (718) 522-9400

Queens

BluePearl Pet Hospital
107-28 71st Road, Forest Hills
Phone: (718) 263-0099

Long Island

Please call your local veterinarian for the nearest emergency veterinary hospital or search online by town.

Long Island Veterinary Specialists
163 South Service Road, Plainview, Nassau County
Phone: (516) 501-1700

West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center
800 West Jericho Turnpike, Huntington, Suffolk County
Phone: (631) 351-6116

Seriously Ill or Injured Cats and Kittens

To contact Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) about an injured or sick community cat, please call 311.

6) Placing Cats & Kittens for Adoption

If you are caring for friendly cats or litters of kittens, we suggest that you plan to keep them until local animal adoption organizations are again able to take them in. As of March 28, some groups were still intaking animals, but by appointment only. Please check the website of your local animal shelter or rescue group for their current status on intakes. For a list of animal shelters and rescue groups, visit the Animal Shelters & Rescue Groups in the NYC Area page of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals website.

7) NYC & Long Island Pet Food Pantries & Giveaway Programs

There are over 500 food pantries in New York City, plus several new emergency pet food giveaway programs. Please check with the ones closest to you to see if they are currently offering pet food and what their registration requirements are. You may also want to check with your local community center or house of worship to see if they offer pet food. If you are unable to leave your home in NYC or Long Island and need food delivery, please contact your local Meals on Wheels programs to see if they offer pet food in addition to human meals. There may be more than one program in your area; some are city-run organizations, and some are private charities.

ASPCA Pet Food Distribution Helpline
My Natural Pet: Free Pet Food Distribution
Partnership for Shelter Animals NYC/West Side Campaign Against Hunger: The Hungry Pet Project
Citymeals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels America
Food Bank For New York City
FoodHelp NYC
New York Common Pantry (East Harlem and the Bronx)
Long Island Cares: Baxter’s Pet Pantry
Meals-On-Wheels (Nassau County)
Meals-On-Wheels (Suffolk County)
Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF)

8) Financial Assistance for Feline Veterinary Care

Healthy Pets Project of NYC
NYSAVE
Vet-I-Care
Frankie’s Friends Charitable Pet Foundation
The Onyx & Breezy Foundation
Pets of the Homeless
RedRover
Waggle

9) Help Others If You Are Able

• Be a back-up feeder for a community cat caretaker in your area.
• Foster an animal for your local animal shelter, rescue group, or TNR organization.
• Continue to care for your community cat colony.
Donate to the NYC Feral Cat Initiative so we can continue to be there for the community cats of NYC.

10) We’re Here for You!

Contact us if you have questions or need advice regarding caring for feral and stray community cats in New York City and Long Island:

If you are a Certified TNR Caretaker, email: certified@NYCFeralCat.org.
If you are not a Certified TNR Caretaker and have a question about feral and stray community cats, or if you want to get involved in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), email: info@NYCFeralCat.org.

Visit NYCFeralCat.org for updates, and stay tuned for our upcoming online TNR specialty training webinars.