There are tens of thousands of stray and feral cats—also known as “community cats”—living in NYC. And with the chilly weather here for the season, some cat lovers are working to create outdoor shelters for the animals. Paula DiGioia, a graphic designer who lives in the Rockaways with her husband, hosts a number of stray and feral felines around her home—and she’s just added luxury housing: Heated kitty pods.
We asked DiGioia about being a mom to the outdoor cats in her neighborhood, and advice for those who want to get involved to help their own neighbor kitties.
How many feral cats do you have visiting you?
Six cats—Biff Howard, Obama, Fluffy, Van Gogh, One Eyed Willy and Blondie. The names are literal representations of how they look. Obama’s black and white, Van Gogh has one ear, One Eyed Willie has one eye and Blondie is blonde. Biff Howard is a charismatic bully inspired by Biff from Back To The Future.
Out of my six, three are feral, three are strays. The difference between a stray and a feral is the extent to which they are socialized to humans. Strays are mostly friendly towards people; they may put their tail up when they see you, meaning they’re confident in their surroundings and happy. They’re vocal (unlike ferals) and you can often pet them! A feral will shy away when they see you, keeping a safe distance. Ferals have not had human interaction within the first 12 weeks of their life.