Rabies Outbreak in Westchester County and the Connection to Feral Cats

Westchester County is the No.1 spot for rabies in New York State due to the huge feral cat problem.

A seemingly rabid raccoon attacking a commuter last week at the Valhalla train station is certainly no surprise...except of course for the poor woman who was attacked...considering Westchester County has been ranked the No. 1 spot for rabies cases in all of New York State for the past 2 years! 

The equation for the outbreak? Unnaturally huge numbers of feral cats + all sorts of wildlife feeding from the same bowls + any physical interaction between the huge numbers of feral cats and all sorts of other wildlife = the rampant spread of rabies in Westchester County. Don't be fooled by animal rights organizations that claim the TNR feral cat program protects those wild cats from rabies. Impossible!  The TNR program gives only one rabies shot to a wild cat and that's it. One. One. One. One rabies shot and no boosters, no boosters, no boosters does not prevent a feral cat from catching and spreading rabies! 

That is precisely the reason why NYS law requires cats to be vaccinated against rabies within 4 months of birth plus given a booster shot within the year plus given booster shots every 1-3 years thereafter depending on the type of vaccine  for the entire life of the cat. Even a cat that is current with all of the those boosters is still required to get yet another rabies booster shot within 5 days of contact with a suspected rabid animal. A cat that is not current with it's booster shots is required by NYS law to be euthanized or quarantined. 

In 2011 the Westchester County Department of Health issued 6 separate rabies alerts specifically related to wild cats. It is important to note that the actual number of rabid cats may be even higher because the DOH does not issue rabies alerts every time a rabies case is confirmed! I learned that the hard way when my next door neighbor who feeds all sorts of wild animals and feral cats was actually attacked by a rabid raccoon and the DOH...not to mention the Yorktown Town Board and police.... refused to issue a public warning of any kind in my  neighborhood which includes many children and pets and even a local park! 

1.     4-11-11    Rabid cat in Yonkers

2.     5-27-11    Rabid cat in Greenburgh

3.     6-9-11     Rabid cat in Yorktown....This is my personal fave cause it is my hometown but most importantly this rabid feral cat was found in the huge FDR State Park where hundreds of children and thousands of people including pets can be found on any given nice day!  And we all know where there is 1 rabid stray cat there are probably more!

4.     7-14-11     Rabid kitten in Mt. Pleasant

5.    10-6-11     Rabid kitten in Ossining

6.     12-1-11     Rabid cat in New Rochelle


The first time ever that the Department of Health publicly acknowledged in their news alert that a rabid kitten may have had contact with other feral strays was on 10-6-11. A local news site even reported that the rabid stray cat was seen in a fight with another stray cat. Which of course means the other stray would probably get rabies and spread it as well!

The second time the DOH publicly stated in their news alert that a rabid feral cat may have had contact with a colony of other stray cats was on 12-1-11. This time the DOH took the warning one step further and implied that since  the other wild cats may also be infected with rabies that people should stay away from these other strays.

The only reason the DOH gave more explicit warnings those last 2 times was because I had put their feet to the fire with my emails and phone calls to them and County Executive Rob Astorino's office. It is also because of that and the crucial fact that the Department of Health agrees that the other feral cats in those colonies could very well be rabid that they partnered with those 2 towns to attempt to capture and euthanize all the feral cats in those locations. This capturing and euthanization of those potentially rabid stray cats was never publicized...The only reason I know was that I was told by the Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Public Health Protection at the DOH.

Why so quiet?  

Because politicians and the DOH are afraid of taking a public stand against the vocal, powerful, lawsuit threatening animal rights groups that falsely promote TNR as the answer to the enormous feral cat problem. Unfortunately it is that fear which has resulted in the rampant continuous spread of rabies in Westchester County.

It is that same  fear and the allowing of the continuation of the non-rabies protecting TNR programs that will ultimately result in a human death from rabies...just take a look at what happened in California to 8 year old Precious Reynolds...     

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Annie Wilczak May 19, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Just having come back from a TNR clinic and observing the entire process I have to ask why this writer states the programs in general do nothing to prevent rabies. I witnessed all feral cats at this clinic being sterilized and vaccinated for FP as well as rabies. Do not tell me there are no pro-active practices being conducted in treatment. TNR is effective in so many ways. Foolish remarks as this enable the public to remain educated and fearful of what they do not understand. TNR works and should be supported by the public.
Esteban June 06, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Annie, Although TNR advocates will tell you that the 1-3 year rabies vaccine is sufficient, it may not be. But that really doesn't matter. When someone is bitten or scratched by a cat that cannot be re-captured quickly, the public health department has to assume the animal was rabid and the person must be administered shots. Sometimes this course of treatment can cost upwards of $10,000 and many insurance companies will not reimburse for this. The only solution that protects public health, personal property rights, and the cats themselves is TNE, trap, neuter, enclose. Homeowners that love cats can build enclosures or 'catios' in their yards and house 8-10 cats safely and securely. Anything less is not humane to the cats, or to wildlife.
Kiley Blackman September 24, 2013 at 09:35 AM
This woman Robin is spreading her psychotic poison all over Westchester, praying all the animals will be killed. They will not; go take your meds and leave decent people alone.
Kiley Blackman September 24, 2013 at 09:38 AM
And a big THANK YOU to Annie and all the other sane, sensible, decent people who challenged Robin's miserable hate-filled lies - intelligence and decency will always prevail, Robin - always. ALWAYS.
Robin September 24, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Kiley, you might want to try and read what I actually wrote before spreading your "miserable hate-filled lies" about me. Before you do though, I think it would be beneficial to you - and the rest of us - if you take a few reading comprehension classes. Unfortunately, it is closed minded people like you, who refuse to truly listen to what is actually being said, that only serve to reinforce the stereotypical picture of a "crazy cat lady." I would tell you to read the USA Today article published just last month, "Feral Cat Colonies Could Pose Rabies Risk, CDC Says, " but I'm afraid you wouldn't "get it" either. MEOW.


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