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A yogi and a resident on 51st Avenue near 90th Street in Elmhurst suspect their neighbor is poisoning and killing cats they feed on the block.
“They were healthy the day before,” said David Taylor, who runs the Yogi Gupta Ashram, at 90-16 51st Ave. “It’s not like they got run over by a car.”
Taylor said for years he has been feeding multiple cats and kittens that roam about the loosely connected backyards of the residents of 51st and 52nd avenues between 90th and 92nd streets, but for the last few months a perfectly healthy cat would turn up dead.
Then a few weeks ago Taylor’s neighbor had cut down part of a bush in Taylor’s backyard, saying the bush slapped him in the face, Taylor said. After a dispute about the bush, five kittens were found with autopsy-like incisions across their chest. Other cats, including one cat cared for by another neighbor, Ruth Ibanez, also seemed to be poisoned.
“We figured this is a little much,” Taylor said.
He said pieces of fresh chicken were found in a backyard and he believes the cats were poisoned by eating the chicken.
“We think we know who [the perpetrator] is, but we can’t say,” Taylor said.
After some prodding, the ASPCA got involved in the case, Taylor said. Officers now have the body of Ibanez’s cat and others for autopsy and also gave Taylor multiple fliers to hang up, reminding residents that poisoning a cat is a crime that carries a $1,000 fine.
The neighbor who argued with Taylor about the bush and who he and Ibanez suspect of harming the cats did a major cleanup of his property after the ASPCA came to Taylor’s ashram. But the man cannot be charged unless he is caught in the act, Taylor said.
He said the idea of someone killing so many domesticated animals so quickly makes him worry about the perpetrator’s mental health and what he is capable of doing.
“Why? They are so defenseless,” said Ibanez, who has six cats. “I really don’t understand it.”
Ibanez said her neighbors could always use sprays meant to repel cats if they did not want them on their properties.
Taylor said the cats have been nervous and quiet ever since the deaths. Both he and Ibanez are worried because another one of the neighborhood cats is pregnant.
“They trust us,” Taylor said of the cats. “And it’s sad because now they don’t seem to trust us like they used to.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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