There are now an estimated 3 million rats in New York City — a 50 percent increase from a decade ago. The report, from a pest-control company, used rat-sighting data from 2022 and 2023, building off of a previous study by statistician Jonathan Auerbach. Not that it’s all that hard to believe. (“We’ve had rats the size of Crocs just running up and down the street,” as one Harlem resident recently put the problem. “An average size eight, running up and down the street.”) The feral-cat population has also exploded, per the New York Daily News, with estimates ranging from 500,000 to 1 million cats now living on the city streets. “These feral cats running amok everywhere,” a cat rescuer told to the paper.
The rats are multiplying because our city is addicted to putting trash out in bags on the street. And the feral-cat problem grew when free spaying and neutering services were paused during COVID and now, with more evictions and financial pressures driving owners to give up their pets, shelters are reaching capacity across the city. Meanwhile, the human population is still at about 8.5 million, outnumbering the rats and feral cats — for now.