Old Town business owners keeping area cat population alive

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With Albuquerque’s Old Town all but shut down, some worry the furry friends that live there may be forgotten. While shop owners are down about their stores being closed, they are finding a reason to come back to work to help out the animals that call the area, home.

Just about the only creatures, you will find wandering the streets of Old Town right now are cats.

“They come out early in the morning and the evening,” Olga Sanchez said.

Sanchez owns Rubber Tomahawk. She said the feral cat population has been around for decades and relies on shop owners to feed them.

“All the shop owners that normally take care of the cats are not here anymore,” Sanchez said.

With Old Town shut down and people gone, she worried the cats would disappear too.

“One morning I was leaving to get my own groceries and I saw two cats fighting over an empty dish of food,” Sanchez said. “There was no food in the dish and I knew my day was written after that.”

Sanchez started a cat care committee, now made up of eight Old Town business owners to feed the 20 or so cats.

“Some people that come in every day have adapted to a particular area to make sure to fill up the bowls, give fresh water and make sure there is plenty of that for the kitties,” Bottger Mansion Bed & Breakfast owner Kathy Hiatt said.

Sanchez said it is crucial they keep the cats around as the cats keep the rodent population down. “When the cats disappear, there is a lot of mice that get inside the stores and eat packaging boxes and make a mess,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez and Hiatt said the felines are part of their Old Town family. “Old Town would not be the same without the cats,” Hiatt said.

They said they are happy people are coming together to keep the cats sticking around. “It is nice in a crisis like this, we can all get together and do something,” Sanchez said.

The shop owners said they only have enough resources to take care of the existing cats and are asking people not to drop off any more cats in the area. The owners are asking people to make cat food donations to Street Cat Hub.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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