Not far from Raritan Bay, hidden in the woods, about 30 feral cats live in tiny makeshift homes.

"They just stay, probably, because they have shelter and they're fed," volunteer Dean Klopsis said.

The homes are plastic storage containers filled with straw and covered with shingles or tarp.

"This is what they would use and stay in at night," Klopsis demonstrated.

Volunteers donate their time and money feeding the strays twice a day. The cat colony has been on Staten Island for about 15 years, after the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals was formed to save homeless animals.

Living in the wild, largely without human interaction, the feral cats are unlikely to become domesticated.

"Feral cats are more afraid of us then we are of them," said Kathleen O'Malley, of the non-profit NYC Feral Cats Initiative.

She says tens of thousands of feral cats live all over the city, in every borough. Her group assists the volunteers who feed and care for them. It starts with making sure the felines cannot reproduce.

"Rather than have animal control officers round up feral cats so they can be killed in the shelter, we are advocating the non-lethal method of population control, which is trap, neuter, and return," O'Malley said.

Klopsis, who is a member of Staten Island Hope Animal Rescue, estimates he has helped to neuter hundreds of feral cats over the years. It begins with baiting a trap with wet food, which he says the cats prefer.

Just two cats at the volunteer site still needed to be fixed when we were there, but he hoped the grey tabby he's seeking will take the bait. It didn't work, at least not while NY1 cameras were there.

Once they're neutered, the animals will no longer mate, leading to a drop in the feral cat population.

There are several hundred so-called cat colonies on Staten Island, though most are not as big as the one we saw.

Advocates estimate even more cats are being cared for by residents who have not yet enrolled with the city's Feral Cat Initiative.

Organizers are hoping they will and encourage anyone caring for a cat colony to head to