Subway Kittens Land on All Four Paws in Brooklyn

Thursday, September 05, 2013 - 05:33 PM

Former subway kitties August (L) and Arthur in their Bushwick foster home (Steven Liu/Scratching Pad)

The kittens whose sheer cuteness caused subway service at one New York City station to grind to a halt last week are now living the good life in Bushwick — at least for the next month or so. Potential adopters, start your engines. 

Cat caretaker Steven Liu, who fosters cats for the city's Animal Care and Control (AC&C), says he heard about the cats when they entered the shelter system. "When I got the email from the AC&C about how these cats dashed off the subway and they needed to find a foster home, I just replied — and here they are," he says.

August (Steven Liu/Scratching Pad)

Arthur and August joined Liu's other foster cats in his Bushwick apartment, which he shares with human roommates. Currently, the apartment houses five humans and seven cats — but Liu says "somehow it's still pretty spacious."

August (Steven Liu/Scratching Pad)

Liu says the tiny, eight-week old kittens — both males — are doing well and learning how to get along with the two-legged crowd.

"They're still not completely socialized, in the sense that they're still cautious around humans, (but that) is to be expected," he says. "When I pet them, they purr, but sometimes they'll run from me. They're still skittish but they're slowly warming up to me."

Fun kitten fact: Arthur and August are too young to retract their needle-like claws (Steven Liu/Scratching Pad)

Liu says he doesn't play favorites — "it really fluctuates. Whoever won't scratch me more is the cat I like" — and that Arthur and August have struck up a friendship with Alice and Ralph, two of Liu's other AC&C foster kittens. Well, really more Alice.

"When we feed them," he says, "Ralph gets really bossy and puts his paw in the food and tries to scare the other cats away, so we have to monitor that."

Ralph, in a more mellow moment (Steven Liu/Scratching Pad)

Liu says he'll foster the kittens until they're socialized.  "I'm tempted to keep them but I'm probably not going to do that," he says. "I'm taking care of them (for now), and then they will go somewhere else."

Richard Gentles, a spokesperson for the AC&C, says the kittens ultimately will be available for adoption. Unsurprisingly, he said, "we have a lot of interest in the cats."

But probably not from Joe Lhota, the NYC mayoral candidate who, after saying he wouldn't have stopped the trains for the kittens, was accused of being a cat killer by rival Republican John Catsimatidis.

Liu (who says he's not related to yet another mayoral candidate, comptroller John Liu), was willing to cut the former MTA head some slack. "He probably meant well, I think he probably wanted to come down on the side of procedural consistencies in the subways and making sure passengers get there on time, but instead he came across as being really callous. I don't think he intended to do that," he says.

Liu says he'll post updates on Arthur and August on his website.



Comments [7]

Kim from boondocks from boondocks

To help kittens learn to not scratch: regularly take their little paws and rub the bottom of their toes and pads with your fingers, murmuring at them. You'll find yourself with a cat who's very gentle with its paws.

Sep. 10 2013 06:01 PM
sunflower NYC from Downtown, NYC

There are hundreds of cats living in the subway tunnels, probably surviving on the food that passengers let fall onto the tracks. Several times in the past various groups and individuals have tried to trap the cats to save their lives, but the cats have survival skills more than worthy of New Yorkers.
Incidentally, cats keep the rat population under control, according to biologists. Cats and rats compete for the same ecological niche. Thus the presence of cats in the subway keeps the rats from totally taking over. Still and all, I would be happier if the subway cats could be rescued and re-homed.

Sep. 08 2013 02:25 PM
Keira from Manhattan

Famous last words,"I'm taking care of them (for now), and then they will go somewhere else."That's how I wound up with 6 cats : ) Good luck!

Sep. 06 2013 01:26 PM
PBnJ from Brooklyn

Bless the foster parents who help make these kittens the housebroken, wonderful pets that are adoptable. The would have perished for sure in a city shelter if not under the wheels of the train. Bless the MTA and Police too for saving them!

Sep. 06 2013 01:18 PM
willie from Manhattan

For God's sake! Give a New Yorker a break when he shows some heart! Cats are domestic, rats survive in the subway anyway and I've never seen a bunny in the city. That said, yes, neuter your pets to prevent the many sad stories we all know occur.

Sep. 06 2013 12:52 PM
Spay them from NYC

maybe i'm a bit cray - but if the subway shut itself down every time a cat/rodent/bunny got on the tracks this city wouldn't move hundreds of thousands of people - hourly.
I love animals and if you love animals too, please spay and neuter them.

Sep. 06 2013 10:50 AM

Sooo, if rats were cute and cuddly then they would have been saved as well. Sorry rats. You have a hard life. :)

Sep. 06 2013 09:36 AM

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