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Cats Enlisted to Battle Doorman Building's Rat Problem

By Janet Upadhye | July 10, 2014 7:31am | Updated on July 10, 2014 8:51am
 The superintendent at 475 Washington Ave. uses a combination of cats and an exterminator to curb a rodent infestion in the building.
475 Washington Ave.
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CLINTON HILL — The super of a Clinton Hill doorman building overrun with rats has put his faith in a crew of pest-hunting cats that roam the halls — but tenants said using the feline foot soldiers is animal abuse and hasn't lessened the problem.

Tenants at the 47-unit building at 475 Washington Ave., at Gates Avenue, have submitted five complaints for rats and mice to the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) since the beginning of 2014, most recently on March 10.

But the building's superintendent said he's greatly diminished the rat problem with the help of a collection of rodent-hunting pet cats, along with regular visits from an exterminator.

The super, Unk, who declined to give his last name, said he relies on two cats — named Jangles and Tiger — to slay rodents.

At one time he had as many as five cats on his crew, he said. He said he also hired an exterminator to visit the building once a week.

"The cats are doing their job," Unk told DNAinfo New York. "I guarantee you there aren't as many rats as there used to be."

Unk said he adopted the cats from a Brooklyn shelter not only to battle rodents, but also to be his pets. It was unclear what happened to the other three cats.

"They don't just work all day," he said. "They also hang out with me around the building."

But some tenants don't like cats wandering the building and said it's unfair of the super to put them to work in the basement.

"To me it's animal abuse to put those poor cats in the basement," said tenant Jacqui Hawkins, 46, who has lived in the building for 14 years. "I don't like them running loose up and down the hallways either."

The rat problem is only getting worse, according to Hawkins and several other tenants who declined to give their names because they are currently in rent negotiations.

Tenants met on a recent Tuesday night to discuss the problem.

"The rat problem has increased drastically over the last year," a man who has lived on the second floor of the building for 14 years said at the meeting. "The sound of rats is constant at night and they die in the walls, causing maggots and flies to come in through the vents."

The building's owners and management did not return calls for comment.