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Bates-Hendricks neighborhood welcomes abundance of community cats

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Posted at 10:06 PM, Sep 01, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — Just down the street from Fountain Square, you'll find the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood.

It's a neighborhood that has been revitalizing itself but that same neighborhood is now taking care of more than just each other.

"It's really nice. Everyone kind of looks out for each other, takes care of each other, takes care of the cats and helps each other out," Gretchen Szostak said.

Szostak helps take care of the roughly dozen cats that live in the neighborhood.

"I know that some of the people will catch them and take them in. They'll get their ear docked, it shows if they have been spayed or neutered," Szostak said.

Other neighbors give them monthly flea and tick treatments.

"You just get together with your neighbors. It's a community effort that really keeps the population," Kia Xiong said.

On Xiong's porch you can find scratch posts, blankets and even an iPad with bird videos from time to time. The cats have everything they could ever want.

"They'll come inside. Some will stay overnight too," Don Tyler, Xiong's husband, said.

Every neighbor has their own names for the cats — Fat Gus, Garfield, Skunky, Otis and Stubbs to name a few.

"I think everyone has adopted them. I feel like these are my cats but my neighbors are also like 'oh these are my cats,'" Szostak said.

The care these neighbors are giving the cats is a solution to a problem the city has faced for years.

The city wants people to catch and release them, it's part of their community cat program.

The program uses a trap, neuter and return program. People can catch stray cats and bring them to IACS or FACE Low-Cost Animal Clinic to be treated, then taken back to their community.

The neighborhood also takes care of the cats during the colder months, offering warm shelter for them.

Many neighbors have cat hotels on their front porches.

Indy Neighborhood Cats, a non profit, works to provide those free to anyone who needs one.

"They give us a good feeling of companionship. It's nice to have these cats. We can love on them without the responsibility of bringing them inside," Tyler said.

Plus some neighbors say they help keep the mice at bay.