Editor’s Note: This interview previously ran on Tamar’s blog, I HAVE CAT, but she kindly gave us permission to share it with Catster readers.
On Aug. 29, 2013, two small kittens were found wandering on New York City subway tracks, shutting down two busy lines for nearly two hours. CNN may have put it best: "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."
Reaction to the MTA shutting down the subway lines was mixed, but if power had not been cut off to the electrically charged third rail, it’s likely the kittens would not have made it. The most controversial statement of the day was made by Republican mayoral candidate 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. It’s a good thing no one listened to Joe. The two brothers — August (black) and Arthur (tabby) — were rescued and taken to a safe foster home. Yay, New York!
I recently spoke with the kittens’ forever Mom, Katherine, and asked how she and her husband, Keith, got these famous kittens and how the cats are doing now.
Tamar: Did you specifically want to adopt the famous "subway" kittens?
Katherine: 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 two bonded kittens.
We filled out an application for the AC&C (the NYC kill shelter) 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!
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 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.
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 became 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 names. Not only because everyone in New York City knew them, but the names are good matches.
We did ask the AC&C 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 …
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 six 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. 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 made us a snowflake garland fout of a full roll of paper towels on a snowy day. It was great, very artistic.
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."
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 likes the laser pointer, while August prefers catnip toys.
They have a fabric teepee that Arthur likes to sit inside of. 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 flipside, Arthur loves to catch August’s tail when it’s moving. He stalks it and pounces!
Will they be getting Christmas gifts? (This interview took place before the holidays.)
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 like I think that having only two cats — not her married status — might prevent her from having cat lady status. What do you think?
Cat lady status aside, 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 every single one of those people who submitted applications for them but didn’t get them still went home with rescue kitties or cats.
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."
Read more amazing kitten rescue stories on Catster:
About the author: Tamar Arslanian is a singleton living in New York City with her three cats Kip, Petie, and Haddie. Tamar writes about cats, relationships and life in the Big Apple on her nationally recognized blog, I HAVE CAT. She was recently quoted in People StyleWatch "What’s In What’s Out" about cat toy trends. Her biggest secret? She didn’t grow up with animals (unless you count goldfish and a hamster). When she finally got her first cat she was in her early 30s and it was all thanks to a man she was dating at the time. You can follow Tamar and I HAVE CAT on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.