Hundreds of cats take over Tonawanda Island

TONAWANDA ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – In the middle of the Niagara River, Tonawanda Island has become a paradise for cats.

Mike Charnock, owner of the Shores Waterfront Restaurant & Marina, said, “They’re throughout the whole island.”

Forgotten or unwanted pets have been left to roam untamed and free.

Wayne Howard of North Tonawanda said, “They’re just everywhere. People drop them off. I’ve caught people dumping them on the road; they just unload them on the island.”

Estimates are hundreds of abandoned and feral cats are on this 85-acre island.

Charnock explained, “They’re multiplying horrendously; there’s just too many cats is what it boils down to.”

Most hide during the day then come out at night.

Howard said, “The messes that they make, especially the feces around the island and where people walk, it’s disgusting. I’ve caught them on my boat a few times and they made messes; they’re just a problem.”

Unlike the few seasonal residents, these cats live here year-round.

Danielle Coogan said, “This is a small island with a big cat problem.”

Coogan is trying to take on the problem herself in what’s she’s calling Operation Island Cats. She’s fixing the problem, by fixing the cats, one at a time.

She explained, “They’re just cats that no one really cares about so we are going to try and clean up the island.”

In the last 10 days, she has trapped 10 cats.

“We do have some people that come several times a week and will fill trays of dry food and wet food,” she said.

Although kittens will be put up for adoptions, adult cats will be returned to the island.

“They’re going to be spayed and neutered, they’re going to be vaccinated and they’re going to live the rest of their days on their beautiful island home where they’re comfortable and they’re not going to keep reproducing.”

It costs about $25 to spay or neuter each cat. Coogan is hoping to raise money from donations to offset her costs for Operation Island Cat. You can find her donation page here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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