The Nassau County Police Department is investigating reports that Island Park resident Lee Natale has been trapping neighborhood cats and relocating them to the Sands catering hall parking lot in Lido Beach.
"We're just beside ourselves here," said Natale's neighbor, Nancy Sarro, who noticed that her cat, Zeppelin, had been missing for more than a day on Nov. 9. Sarro said that Zeppelin, a 4-year-old gray male, often spent time outside, but to her knowledge never wandered farther than her property.
Sarro explained that her daughter saw a man, whom Natale identified only as a friend, loading a cat in a carrying case into his car. When the family confronted the man, he admitted to bringing 10 cats to the Sands parking lot, adjacent to the Lido Towne House condominiums on Lido Boulevard in Lido Beach.
"We've been going there day and night trying to catch back all these animals," Sarro said of the various volunteers who took part in the hunt.
While Sarro is missing one cat, neighbors Fran Bronzin and Yvonne Gracie were missing four and three, respectively. As the Herald went to press, one of Bronzin's cats returned after being gone a week. Since she found the cat in the yard, Bronzin is unsure whether it was one of the cats that were taken to Lido and had been returned, or whether it just wandered off. "We wish she could talk," said Bronzin.
Two of Gracie's cats are still missing, and a third was hit by a car on Lido Boulevard. Her other cat, she said, was injured by Natale's trap and now has trouble walking.
"We got kids that are freaking out," Bronzin said of the effect the missing cats have had on the families. "My husband goes after work at like 12 at night [to look for them]."
Bronzin added that one of her cats, a purebred Russian Blue that often got out of the house, has been missing since June, but the other three went missing during the same time span as Sarro's cat.
Using cans of food and a trap employed by animal rescuers, Natale said she decided to trap and relocate the cats after becoming frustrated with animals that were defecating on her porch. "It's very, very upsetting to me," she said of the mess the cats would leave on her property.