NYC CATS: The Subway Kittens

This is the first edition of a new featured called “NYC CATS” where we highlight cats of this fine city! Hope you enjoy today’s installment!

On August 29, 2013, two small kittens were found wandering on NYC train tracks, shutting down two busy subway lines for nearly two hours. CNN may have put it best when they wrote:

“Lions may be kings of the jungle, but for nearly two hours, two kittens ruled the concrete jungle as officials halted New York subway service Thursday.”

The Subway Kittens

Photo credits: (left) Gabriella Bass, Grist List (right) unknown


Reaction to the MTA shutting down the subway lines was mixed, but if power had not been cut off to the 3rd rail, it’s likely the kittens would not have made it!

The most controversial statement of the day was made by Republican mayoral front-runner Joe Lhota (whose previous job happened to be running the MTA) who went on record saying he would not have stopped the trains for the kittens (!!).

Photo by Steven Liu (Foster Dad)

Photo by Steven Liu (Foster Dad)


It’s a good thing no one listened to Joe, and the two brothers – August (black) and Arthur (tabby) – were rescued! Yay New York!

I had a chance to speak with the kittens forever Mom Katherine recently and asked how she and her husband Keith got these famous kittens and how they’re doing now!

Did you specifically want to adopt the famous “subway” kittens?  Living in New York we’d heard about them, and we watch “The Colbert Report” (on which the kittens made an appearance with their foster Dad Steven Liu).  But we weren’t looking to get famous kittens, we just wanted 2 bonded kittens.

Katherine, Arthur, Keith, and August.

Katherine, Arthur, Keith, and August.


We filled out an application for the AC&C (the NYC city kill shelter) saying we wanted to two kittens and sent it in the day they went up for adoption along with hundreds of other applications. We did think, maybe these are our cats.

The AC&C called the same day we sent in the application. We were asked to come meet them and took them home that very day!

Arthur and August the first day in their forever home.

Arthur and August The First Day In Their Home


We love the boys and they’ve brought such great energy to our lives, but we would’ve happily taken home two different homeless kitties that day if someone else had adopted Arthur and August!

As a side note, the staff were at the AC&C were awesome. It must be hard to be around so many abandoned animals and keep a positive attitude. They help so many animals there and we were just glad to have been able to help in a very small way.

cnn subway-kittens-0830-story-top

Photo: CNN (Arthur left and August right)


I hear you had cats before. Can you tell me a little bit about that? I had cats when I was younger growing up named Stanley and Oliver after Laurel and Hardy. One was skinny, one was fat, and they were the best of friends.  Keith lived with someone who had a cat and become bonded.

How did you come to name them August and Arthur? They were named when we got them. We knew when we got them there was no way we would change their name. Not only because everyone in New York City knew them, but the names are good matches for them. We did ask the ACC where the names came from. They said that the Officer who rescued them had the last name Augustine. Maybe his first name is Arthur? We’d love to know, so if anyone out there knows an Officer Augustine!

August and Arthur Where's the Laser

“Hey, Where’s The Laser Go?”


How has adopting these cats changed your lives? We scoop a lot more litter!  It’s truly surprising how quickly they’ve adapted. I’ m sure we have Steven Liu to thank for that. He had them for 6 weeks. They adjusted so quickly.  I have never met such polite cats. We sleep with the door closed and when we get up in the morning they are sitting quietly outside our bedroom door in the morning.  They have not caused much havoc in our house.

Although this morning we woke up and found out they did an art project for us while we were asleep. They basically make us a snowflake garland for us out of a full roll of paper towels on a snowy day.  It was great, very artistic.

As Katherine told the New York Daily News, “It’s safe to say they’re not going to be boarding any trains for a while.”

Arthur and August get in touch with their creative side and make a festive winter garland for their new parents!

Arthur and August get in touch with their creative side and make a festive winter garland for their new parents!


Can you tell us a little about their personalities? August is very protective of Arthur.  They always want to be in the same room, especially when they’re sleeping. If they’re sleeping on the same couch next to each other, you can always see one little paw reaching over to touch the other cat. I think they really comfort each other.

Arthur’s meow sounds like he’s asking “why?” and August’s meow sounds like a definitive “because.”

August has Arthur's back

August has Arthur’s back


Arthur is a messy eater. All his food ends up on the floor.  August eats from one side to the other. He’s a very methodical eater.  Arthur He likes the laser pointer, while August prefers catnip toys.

They have a fabric tee-pee that Arthur likes to sit inside of it. August somehow leaps onto the top of it where the sticks and the opening are and jams his hand inside to get to Arthur!  On the flip side, Arthur loves to catch August’s tail when it’s moving. He stalks it and pounces!

Arthur's Favorite Pastime

Arthur’s Favorite Pastime


They they be getting Christmas gifts? (this interview took place before the holidays). 
Yes, I just don’t know what yet! But I do know what my husband is getting.

what's next for the Subway Kittens(I just heard from Katherine and the kitties scored a Modkat Litter Box which they took to immediately – my cats love theirs! –  along with Catty Stacks to hide-out in!)

And then Katherine turned the tables on me and asked me a question!

“I was told that since I’m married I couldn’t be a cat lady. Is that true? I feel like I was robbed of something. What if I wanted to be one?”

I think I responded something to the fact that I think having only two cats, and not her marriage status was what might prevent her from having cat lady status. What do you guys think?

Arthur and August in their forever home!

Arthur and August in Their Forever Home!


Cat lady status aside, I think Arthur and August are two very lucky kittens on many levels (if not only because they have parents who appreciate the destruction of paper towels in the name of art!).

I can only hope that ever single one of those people who submitted applications for them but didn’t get them still went home with rescue kitties or cats from the ACC.

And just because they are so cute, here are a few more photos of Arthur and August for your viewing pleasure!

August Wants Pie

August Wants Pie


Arthur Playing

Arthur Playing


August and Arthur "say Feed Us Please" (in their most polite manner possible)

August and Arthur Say “Feed Us Please” (in the most polite manner possible)


Arthur's Winter Napping Spot (smart kitty!)

Arthur’s Winter Napping Spot (smart kitty!)


August Keeps Refrigerated

August Keeps Refrigerated


Subway kittens in new home

Photo NY Daily News (Keith with Arthur)

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59 Responses to NYC CATS: The Subway Kittens

  1. I can’t think of a better way to end this year than the story that you just brought to your readers!! It shows that love and compassion should always win out over the greed of individuals who are only in too much of a hurry to care about the wonderful little things in life…like August and Arthur! Thank you for sharing this happy ending to what could have been a tragedy!! Much love to the NYC Subway kitties and the very special parents who they love!

    • Tamar says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. These kitties are dupe lucky and I only hope lots of other kittens were adopted from ACC that same week even though these kitties were already adopted!

  2. Sparkle says:

    What an awesome couple these two kitties wound up with! And how great that New York did not wind up with that awful Joe Lhota as mayor! He probably lost the chance when he said he would have let the kitties die. He just proved how awful and heartless he was.

    • Tamar says:

      I know aren’t they adorable!!!! Thank GOD we didn’t get Joe as Mayor! He probably put the nail in the coffin with that comment!

  3. Rosalie says:

    Who doesn’t love a happy ending? Lucky kitties, for sure.

  4. Nothing beats a cat story with a happy ending. Speaking of that, do you know about Pibbles and Kits? They’re a (very) small rescue group in the south Bronx – they’ve only just started and you can find them on Facebook:

  5. Tom Kelly says:

    Pretty special! Very fortunate kitties and some wonderful forever parents. Stories I love to hear. Happy New Year

  6. Brooke says:

    Love this new series! Great article and so wonderful to hear how they are doing and see how loved they are. Lucky kitties!

  7. Very happy to see that they are no longer homeless and that they are well loved. Thanks for the followup!

  8. What a great story! Two very lucky kitties!

  9. Katherine can still be a cat lady, even if she’s married and she only has two cats. First step would be an instagram for Gus and Art.

  10. So glad to know they have found a family and are doing fine!

    Regarding the cat lady status, my human thinks it is not because you are married that you cannot be one. Au contraire ! It’s about loving the cats, not being alone. That is why my human doesn’t mind the cat lady status. Those who add crazy miss on a lot 😉

    Happy New Year!

    • Tamar says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed the story, thanks for being such a loyal IHC reader! Like your perspective on the Crazy Cat Lady! 🙂

  11. Bernadette says:

    Aha, conceptual artists in paper towels! Cats are naturally talented and creative, no matter their backgrounds. I’m so glad they were saved from death in the subway–my how times have changed!

    • Tamar says:

      Aha, conceptual artists in paper towels – LOL! yes, they are lucky that their parents can see the art too! 🙂

  12. Loved this and their happy ending. NYC has so many great cat stories. String them together and they’d make a fine book. Happy to help brainstorm with you.

  13. I’m ecstatic to hear some good news for a change, NYC get’s some really bad wraps and it good to know that there is still humanity out there in these troubling times… Go Arthur and August! I’m sure people were upset about the train’s being stopped but who could live with themselves knowing that they caused these kittens demise if they had not done what they did? God bless and tiny miracle’s do happen every day you just have to look to see them!

  14. jmuhj says:

    What a wonderful update article, Tamar — and what handsome brothers! Long may they reign — so politely, of course — in their loving, permanent home! and here’s to 2014 being the year many, many cats and kittens in the NYACC and everywhere find their loving, forever homes! EVERY cat and kitten is unique and amazing.

  15. what a great follow up. I agree though – I hope those that submitted applications adopted other animals (amazing how many people are willing to step up for the “famous” rescue animals).

    • Tamar says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it, and yes, I wish I knew how many others were adopted on that same day. I can only hope many.

  16. Thanks for the update, Tamar!

  17. Connie says:

    I too lament all of the adoptions that do not take place when a famous cat go up for adoption. I have said more than once that rescues need to start pitching kittens off roof tops to get any of them adoption.. Not that we ever could, but it irritates me that all those people won’t adopt at all if they can’t have the famous one/s

  18. Sheila K. says:

    Such a wonderful story—may you all have many happy years together!

  19. Marcela says:

    what a great way to start the new year!!
    loved the post and loooove to hear more from this new chapter of i have cat
    happy new year Tamar dear!!

  20. Lola says:

    Aunt Tamar, this was wonderful! Those kitties are so cute, and Arthur has white socks just like me!

  21. Thank you for sharing with us. So many times you hear these rescue stories but never the outcome.

    • Tamar says:

      Agree, that’s why I was so curious to hear how this one turned out. Fortunately their Mama was eager to speak with me!

  22. cattywumpus says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I was smiling the whole time I was reading it. I LOVE seeing the follow-up to rescue stories, because you always wonder and hope. I can tell how bonded they are from the pictures, and they are both beautiful!

    • Tamar says:

      I LOVE hearing that you were smiling the entire time you were reading it. It’s fun to see the follow-up b/c we so rarely do!

  23. Glitter says:

    Lovely story but I disagree with their statement that the NYC Kill shelter helps so many animals. It is common knowledge and all over facebook that they kill 4 times more animals than they help. That place is a death trap and the only way most of the animals leave that place is out the back door in a garbage can. These kittens were lucky they were being watched by the public and found homes instead of killing them. They are indeed lucky.

    • Dana says:

      Yes, they kill animals, because they run out of room. Overcrowding is inhumane. If people aren’t going to step up and adopt the animals then either more shelters need to be built or something needs to be done about the animals. If you’re not going to help build more shelters or relieve the population pressure through fostering or adoption then I don’t know what you think you expect them to do.

      • Glitter says:

        It is a proven fact that No Kill can be run cheaper than a kill. And this shelter is notorious for killing adoptable animals that they don’t bother trying to find homes for. I have studied this and have followed the story of the management of this shelter. They kill animals who have been claimed to pull by rescue too even though there is a rescue who wants them they are killed. They are killed when they get the dreaded upper resp infections that they get from being in that shelter. And instead of giving a weeks worth of meds the cats are killed for having a cold. This is not a good place and these two kitten because they are followed by the public ended up lucky.

  24. jaybs62 says:

    And guess who is NOT mayor of NYC ? Nice follow up story b.t.w.

  25. Thank you for sharing such a heart-warming story.

    I too hope that a large amount of kittens found forever homes thanks to the publicity about these kittens. Whilst there would have been a few that only wanted the “famous” kittens, I suspect that the majority of applications were from people that genuinely wanted to adopt kittens, and who therefore took home an equally needy less famous homeless kit.

    Oh, and the definition of a crazy cat lady (or man) is to own 3 or more cats. I am proud to say that I fit that definition :0)

  26. Abigail Beal says:

    What a wonderful story about the NYC Subway kittens! They are adorable and it is so good to know they have found a forever home in the New Year. Thank you for sharing this story with us!

  27. Dana says:

    August looks just like my Goblin! Smaller white patch on his chest but still. All my kitties are rescues, and not from the shelter either. (Three are rehomes and two were found outside as kittens. All indoor cats now.) I guess I qualify as a cat lady since I have five of ’em…

  28. Lovely story about the NYC Subway kittens <3
    Me LOVE happy endings 🙂

  29. Thanks so much for writing and sharing this update, Tamar!

  30. Gale Rios says:

    According to the Wall Street Journal, a spokeswoman said police officers went onto the tracks to roust the cats so they wouldn’t be at risk. She also said the MTA did not wish to accidentally ‘fry’ the kittens.

  31. LarryC says:

    Hello, Tamar – my friend and I are East Coast natives but are forced to live in Portland & Seattle. We have both adopted “many” strays who would otherwise have be en put down. Only in NYC can such a story have a happy ending! (I lived a year in Sheepshead bay, btw).

  32. blackkitties says:

    They’re looking big!