Roosevelt Island Cat Sanctuary – New York, New York - Atlas Obscura

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Roosevelt Island Cat Sanctuary

The feral felines of Roosevelt Island have a small army of allies and an abandoned hospital all to themselves. 


The cats of Roosevelt Island can be found stalking through the underbrush of the abandoned smallpox hospital, lounging in the community gardens, and slinking through the gaps in construction fencing throughout the island.

For generations their presence has been tolerated, and sometimes encouraged with food and water being left out from time to time, but since 2005, a small group of people has been dedicated to the task of helping and finding homes for the cats abandoned on the island by persons unknown.

Inspired by the death of a beloved local cat by the name of Princess Yin Yang in 2004, a group formed to trap and neuter strays, and create an adoption program.

Today the Wildlife Freedom Foundation operates a small shelter on the southern end of the island. On any given day, you may see a few of the island’s felines lazing around their little fenced-in sanctuary, well fed and utterly content.

Know Before You Go

The Roosevelt Island Cat Sanctuary is easy to find just north of the smallpox hospital on the path that runs along the east shore of the island. There is a second shelter south of and across the street from the Octagon.

Community Contributors
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June 15, 2013

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  • Long time resident. There is no shelter or sanctuary, by the way. They are managed feral cat colonies. It is also probably not a good idea to have this listing here at all. When people read that there are managed cat colonies they begin to dump unwanted pets in the area. Every year, Roosevelt Island gets many dumped pets. Unfortunately, the resident feral cats chase them away and don't let them near the food and they starve or the freeze in winter. Lots of them die.
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