Southern Brooklyn

Neighbor In Need: Woman Faces Eviction, Cats Face Death If Animals Not Adopted

One of Berger's 45 cats. (Photo: Katherine Gonzalez)

It was back in March that we first told you about Barbara Berger, a Brighton Beach cat hoarder who faced eviction if she failed to offload more than 40 of her feline friends. At the time, Berger teamed up with the Brooklyn Animal Umbrella to put as many as 20 of the cats up for adoption at a Bensonhurst Petco.

Through that event and others, Berger was able to give up 22 cats, but must lose 12 more by June 5 or be evicted. A friend of hers, and frequent reader of Sheepshead Bites, Andrew Kent sent us the following plea:

A 51 year-old disabled Brooklyn woman, who has been struggling to comply with a Housing Court stipulation allowing her to keep just two cats from her original 45, is down to the wire and due back in court on Tuesday, June 5, at which time an already issued warrant of eviction, stayed pending her compliance with the agreement, may be sent to the City Marshal for execution.

If the warrant is executed, she will become homeless, and any cats left in her apartment will be taken by the City’s Animal Care and Control Shelter (AC&C), where most, if not all, will be euthanized for administrative convenience because they are less adoptable than the cats lucky enough to make it to the shelter’s infamous “Kill List” from which rescue groups select the kittens and cats they deem most deserving of a second chance.

Barbara Berger, 22 of whose cats have already been placed for adoption, with another 8 of the 10 she wants to keep being fostered until she can find and move to a pet-friendly building, says she is eager to surrender the remaining 12 to individuals, rescue groups, sanctuaries, or other refuges willing to accept them and not kill them.

If just a fraction of those reading this plea can each take just one or two of these cats, either by June 4th, to prevent Barbara’s eviction, or before the Marshal comes, to prevent seizure by AC&C, these cats, too, will have a second chance.

If you can help, know someone who can, or have any links, suggestions, or advice, please contact:

Andrew Kent
(347) 374-3903 home
(718) 791-3628 cell

Comment policy


  1. I feel sorry for the cats.  They are innocent.  How about putting the cats up for adoption again, and putting the owner to sleep.  She seems to have serious mental problems anyway.  I also feel for her landlord – that apartment must stink to high heaven.

  2. She has always changed the cat boxes daily, and the two times I have been to the apartment, it didn’t smell.  Her cats were always well fed, and she did try to keep up with the vetting but became overwhelmed when a few un-spayed females gave birth and other people dumped cats on her that she couldn’t refuse.  One cat she rescued as a kitten from AC&C’s kill list 16 years ago, if it were to go back to AC&C, would surely be killed due to its age.

    Many animal hoarders start out as rescuers or just people who care about homeless animals, and many feed colony cats on a daily basis, but don’t take them in.  Barbara has placed numerous rescued strays over the years, but most rescue groups and shelters are now filled with cats and kittens they’ve rescued from AC&C, so she became stuck with cats that she can’t keep, yet can’t unload without abandoning them on the street, which is illegal and unethical.

    Yes, she got herself into this mess, and did get some help placing the more adoptable cats, but now nobody will help her get out of it in time to prevent her own homelessness, as well as the euthanizing of her remaining cats.  Perhaps its the people who abandon cats, and not the people who rescue them, who should be put to sleep.

  3. Actually, I did tentatively agree to foster one of her personal cats until she can move, but it was against my better judgment due to my own personal health issues.  Had my own cat of 16 years not passed recently, I wouldn’t be able to do this.  As for her, I wouldn’t even consider it, nor would she.  I once asked her why she takes in homeless cats but not homeless people, and she said that homeless people have government agencies to help them but homeless cats do not.  Of course, if that’s really the case, then why are there so many homeless people?

  4. It’s sad that someone who who loves animals so much that she puts their welfare before her own is being punished for her good deeds.  She has rejected suggestions that she turn the cats over to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals,
    which would probably send them to AC&C, and she won’t put even the few feral and under-socialized cats back into colonies because they have been house cats for too long.  Right now, she is on the verge of sacrificing herself to save the cats, yet, despite her efforts, the cats may be sacrificed in the end anyhow.  This entire situation is a tragic result of public policy that allows kill shelters like AC&C to continue their euthanasia holocaust while funding for TNR and spay-neuter programs is decimated by budget cuts.

  5. Correction:  I’m not sure if NYC TNR budget has been cut, as it was increased last year as an alternative to building two more AC&C shelters.  Interestingly, PETA is opposed to TNR, which they call trap, neuter, and abandon, and seems to favor euthanasia as a more humane solution to the feral stray problem.  So it’s all very political, and people like Barbara rescue strays, and especially kittens, from the street in the perhaps misguided belief that she is giving them a better life.  If cats were better cared for in situ, and if AC&C became a no-kill shelter, perhaps people like Barbara would not take in so many strays or more freely surrender them to a public shelter with the facilities to vet them and place them for adoption.

  6. Thank you for this post Andrew, and for the clarification in the thread below. Not all hoarding situations are like the ones on television, with dead animals under beds and trash strewn everywhere. I am in the process of helping a hoarder too, and it is just about impossible to get help from the no-kill rescue groups. This is an issue that is not going away soon, and people need to be made aware. Having the AC&C storm in like Nazis and seize perfectly healthy pets to spend their final moments terrified while waiting for the death needle is not the answer. I will pray hard for Barbara Berger and her cats. There must be a better way.


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