Kips Bay Petco Closure to Leave Cats Without Homes, Advocates Say

By Heather Holland on April 8, 2014 9:31am 

KIPS BAY — The Kips Bay Petco is closing next month, displacing a cat adoption nonprofit that has long shared the space.

City Critters will have to find a new home for the 60 homeless cats that take turns living in the Petco at 560 Second Ave., near 31st Street, when pet supply store closes on May 17, said Jordana Serebrenik, a member of City Critters' board of directors.

“We don’t have a place to go now," Serebrenik said. "We were given notice, but not much.”

A Petco spokeswoman confirmed the store's upcoming closure but declined to comment further. Petco plans to open a new outpost near 51st Street and Second Avenue, an employee confirmed, but it was not immediately clear when it would open and whether City Critters would receive space there.

City Critters, a 20-year-old organization, takes in homeless cats and places them in various foster homes in the neighborhood, putting eight of them on display at the Kips Bay Petco during the week in hopes of finding them a permanent home. Up to 20 of their cats are shown at Petco on weekends, Serebrenik said.

City Critters also shows homeless cats up for adoption at the PetSmart at 632 Broadway in NoHo, but that store is smaller and only has room to show five to six cats at a time, Serebrenik said.

"People don't know us as much over there," Serebrenik said. "If no one sees them, it's harder for them to get adopted. At the Kips Bay Petco, the cats are very visible. They're right by the register banks."

City Critters had also placed its homeless cats in Petco as part of the national nonprofit adoption push Maddie's Adoption Days, which runs this year from May 31 to June 1.

During that weekend, Maddie's Fund covers the costs of adoption costs for any would-be pet owner and also gives money to participating organizations to reward them based on how many cats they are able to place, Serebrenik said. Last year, City Critters found homes for 80 cats and received $74,000 in subsidies — a precedent they fear they won't be able to replicate without high-traffic space at a site like Petco.

"It's the single most important adoption event of the year," Serebrenik said. “That is what is at stake here if we don’t find a place to operate from... It's really what's driving our desperation right now."

City Critters hopes to find a new space near the Kips Bay Petco, because most of its volunteers and foster homes are in the neighborhood. But the group hasn't found a suitable space so far, Serebrenik said.

City Critters isn't the only group lamenting the loss of the store.

Longtime customers, including Kips Bay resident Mary Beth Clark, said they were shocked to see Petco closing after 15 years in the neighborhood.

"It's like losing a family member," Clark said. "I loved the staff there. They were always so helpful, and were good at recommending products for my cat. They knew all the pets that came into their store by name.

"A lot residents go to this Petco," she continued. "They're going to be devastated when they find out it's closing."

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