Meet the Subway Cats

A year ago, two frightened kittens were swept up from a New York city subway to a new home and status as the nation's sweethearts

The shutdown of six miles’ worth of the New York City subway system, endured for nearly two hours in order to find two stray kittens spotted frolicking in the tracks, became such a high-profile story that it came up in the city’s mayoral race.

What, candidates were asked, would they have done had they been mayor during this crisis on August 29? The winner, Bill de Blasio, said he would have stopped the trains to rescue the kitties. An unsuccessful candidate, Joe Lhota, said the shutdown was inappropriate, getting hisses from cat lovers.

Ask Katherine Lynn and Keith Lubeley of Brooklyn, and they know that their famous pets – Arthur, a brown tabby, and August, a black baby – are well worth every minute the trains idled and stranded thousands of angry commuters. We animal lovers would agree without even meeting the furry sweeties, who were about 8 weeks old when the transit police and other workers rescued them.

“They really don’t seem like they come from a feral state,” Lynn says. “They’re wonderful and affectionate … They have some street smarts.”
Both kittens cuddle up with their parents and purr, and love to play. The boys are inseparable and complement each other in their play styles: August plays with what’s at the end of a string, while Arthur goes for the string itself.

“If they’re not sleeping together in the same room, I wonder what’s wrong,” Lynn says.

After rescuers pulled the kittens from the subway tracks, they went to the Animal Care & Control of NYC, which handles animal control and offers pet adoption in all five New York boroughs. Both of the strays were sweet but skittish, and Arthur was hospitalized with a weakened immune system and eye infection, says Jessica Vacaro, adoption supervisor for the center.

After spending six weeks in a foster home, the babies were ready to find their forever home. Hundreds of New Yorkers inquired about adopting the famous kittens, and a few dozen applied. The sixth application shelter officials read, the one from Lynn and Lubeley, stood out because it was so heartfelt, Vacaro says.

Lynn and her husband had been considering getting pets, specifically a pair of kittens. After Lynn saw an article about the subway kittens, the couple applied to adopt either them or other kittens available. The shelter quickly called them and invited the couple to come meet Arthur and August.

“They put them in our arms, and we played with them,” she says. “They looked at us and said, ‘So are you going to take them home?’ We said OK.”
The adopters were expecting a second round, but the fit seemed so perfect to everyone involved, so they took Arthur and August home that night in October, when the kittens were about 4 months old.

Meanwhile, the celebrity kittens “shed light on hundreds of other homeless animals who also needed homes,” Vacaro says. Many people who applied for Arthur and August came in to adopt another pet.

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