QUEENS — Susan LaMarca shares her two-bedroom apartment in Kew Gardens with six cats, all of them rescued from the streets.
That doesn't include the feral cats that live in the alleyway near Lefferts Boulevard and 84th Avenue, the "pretty tabbies" that she feeds every day.
“I’m trying to stop,” said LaMarca, who is a legal assistant for a corporate trademark lawyer in Manhattan and a gospel singer at the Times Square Church.
“But every time I say 'no,' one more turns up.”
Her neighborhood is full of stray cats abandoned by their owners, she said.
Her work, she said, sometimes requires climbing over fences or crawling into narrow spaces and abandoned buildings.
LaMarca's feline affection started when she was 8 years old. She found a kitten “that had no mama,” she said.
She bottle-fed the kitty at her family's house in Middle Village, but the cat became a burden and her father took it away.
“That’s probably why I got into rescues,” she said.
LaMarca, who lives alone, said that for many years she had only three cats, including Princess, which she found injured after being hit by a car on a Long Island Expressway service road.
But she started to notice abandoned animals in the neighborhood and began taking strays home.
After having them spayed or neutered, tested for feline diseases, vaccinated and de-wormed, she said she would look for new homes by placing ads on Petfinder.com and hanging flyers in local pet stores.
She works closely with Dog Days & Cat Nights, a pet boarding and grooming facility in Kew Gardens.
"Susan is great with feral cats in the neighborhood," said Joseph Martinez, the owner. "She not only feeds them, but also has them spayed and neutered."
Among the six cats she has at the moment, five are her “permanent” pets.
There is Sabrina, a white Angora that LaMarca rescued from the city's Animal Care and Control. LaMarca said that because the cat is deaf, it was very loud and feisty and “they were going to put her down.”
Next, there is Tiffany, a silver Doll Face Persian that has a severe breathing problem, Mandy, a “tuxedo cat,” and Ava, which was found in a nearby courtyard with an eye infection.
Shira, a black cat, was found near the carousel in Forest Park among other feral cats. The animal, LaMarca said, “started rubbing against me and I knew she was a house cat. That kind of cat in Forest Park is toast.”
Recently, Bandit, a handsome cat with a black patch over his eye, who, LaMarca said, behaves like a dog and comes when called by his name, joined the group.
LaMarca got him from an owner who got sick and moved to her parents' home in Minnesota. Bandit doesn’t get along with her other cats, so LaMarca is looking for a new home for him.