Home MTA Absurdity The Great Cat vs. Commuter Debate

The Great Cat vs. Commuter Debate

by Benjamin Kabak
Courtesy of the MTA.

Courtesy of the MTA.

You see that cat up there? As kittens go, it’s a pretty cute one, and it seems to be a fan of the subway. But what if that cat were responsible for a two-hour subway shutdown? What if you missed a doctor’s appointment, a lunch date or an airplane because this cat was prancing around the subway tracks?

Earlier today, the MTA severed third rail power to the Brighton Line for nearly an hour and a half as MTA employees tried to corral this kitty and another off the tracks. There was no B or Q service from DeKalb Ave. to Brighton Beach from shortly after 11 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. when trains began running local. Full service was restored a little after 1 p.m., two hours after the ordeal began, and the cats escaped rescue.

It’s not immediately clear how many people were delayed for this failed mission. The MTA ran some buses while subway service was out, but the Q and B lines run under and next to some rather slow-moving stretches of road in Brooklyn. Is it worth it? On the one hand, everybody loves cute kittens; on the other hand, subway service was completely shutdown on a key artery for nearly two hours. Call me heartless, but I think it fails the cost-benefit test.

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Bgriff August 29, 2013 - 5:23 pm

The NYPD was jealous of all the attention firefighters get for rescuing cats and wanted their turn in the spotlight.

Of course, I’m shocked that not a single mayoral candidate showed up for a photo op with the kittens afterwards.

Bolwerk August 29, 2013 - 5:28 pm

Don’t be so harsh. The NYPD isn’t faking; it really does care more about cats than blacks.

pubadmin031568 August 29, 2013 - 5:32 pm

the nypd cares about fighting crime, which is why we have stop-and-frisk.

Roxie August 29, 2013 - 6:20 pm


SEAN August 29, 2013 - 6:48 pm

Well then, what would the NYPD do if they needed to rescue a cat that was black… Frisk the Cat?

Jerrold August 29, 2013 - 9:43 pm

In September we will have Friday the 13th.
You’d better hope that on THAT day, the black cat doesn’t cross the tracks right before your train runs on that same stretch of track.

Bolwerk August 29, 2013 - 10:04 pm

You sound almost as superstitious as pubadmin031568.

pubadmin031568 August 29, 2013 - 5:31 pm

years ago on the brighton line, we had a dog get on the train at kings hwy, and get off at dekalb av. if i could i would adopt the kitties, no questions asked.

Chris C August 29, 2013 - 6:53 pm

there are pigeons who make their way on the London Underground and know when to get off at the right stops.

Phillip Roncoroni August 29, 2013 - 5:31 pm

I own an adopted senior rescue cat which I helped get through diabetes, and even I find this ridiculous.

If the kittens were clearly injured on the tracks, then yes, rescue them. Otherwise they’re animals, they’re going to get startled and move out of the way once a train starts rumbling through there. Shutting things down for two hours is absurd. If, in the extremely slight chance they didn’t get out of the way, see Feline Darwin’s Law.

SEAN August 29, 2013 - 6:40 pm

You & Ben should expect an angry e-mail from the ASPCA any time now. LOL

Bolwerk August 29, 2013 - 10:27 pm

Well, like it or not, not doing what they did would probably be a PR nightmare.

Adirondacker12800 August 30, 2013 - 12:01 am

yes they will move off the tracks, scramble across the third rail, short it out, cause the circuit breakers to trip, strand trains between stations while crews go out to find out why the third rail keeps shorting out. Shouldn’t take much more than a few hours…

Patrick @ The LRR Today August 29, 2013 - 6:17 pm

I guess the better question is why did it take the NYPD two hours to scoop up a little kitten?

All the firefighters in the cartoons did it in 2-3 minutes tops!

Anon August 29, 2013 - 6:38 pm

what do you think about the Charlie Kickstarter transit ring?

Brian August 29, 2013 - 6:51 pm

Person winds up on tracks, tally up another dead guy. Kitten on tracks OMG STOP THE TRAINZZ.

nyland8 August 29, 2013 - 7:00 pm

” … and the cats escaped rescue.”

Now THAT is embarrassing!

It says it all for me. Should we broadcast to the terrorists that all they need to do to cripple the entire NYC subway system is to release a few adopted or feral cats onto each of the subway lines?

Either they were born there of some feral parents, or some well intentioned subway patron thought they’d address the rat problem in a creative way.

Of course, the biggest problem isn’t even the kittens. It’s the fact that some subway patron is likely to jump down on the tracks to “save” them – and all the possible ramifications of that action.

If we survive the 21st century, somebody will market robotic pet sweepers to scoop up the little fuzzies before the next train arrives.

Jerrold August 29, 2013 - 8:20 pm

Notice that the MTA did not send out the usual Thursday E-mails about subway changes for this weekend.
(At least I did not get any.)
Does that mean that there will not BE any, because it’s Labor Day weekend?
Or were they too busy chasing stray cats to do anything else?

Jerrold August 29, 2013 - 8:23 pm


That sentence really should have read:
“Does that mean that there will not BE any service changes, because…..”.

SEAN August 29, 2013 - 8:52 pm

If the NYPD is chasing Stray Cats, then they will… Rock this Town. Rock it inside out, rock this town, make us scream & shout.

Patrick @ The LRR Today August 29, 2013 - 10:15 pm

Quite the contrary, there will be a fair amount of changes this weekend, most notably no (L) trains between Broadway Junction and Lorimer St. I’ll leave the rest for Mr. Kabak to detail tomorrow!

Stu Sutcliffe August 29, 2013 - 9:17 pm

Remember the saga of “Token the Dog”? A dog was running around on the tracks for quite a while. No one could catch up with it. Finally, with rush hour beckoning, service was started, and the dog was struck and killed. Transit and the train operator were vilified for days and weeks. It didn’t stop until the train operator was interviewed and talked about how people were treating him. He was close to suicide, as I remember.

Lady Feliz August 29, 2013 - 9:21 pm

I can has subwayz?

dungone August 29, 2013 - 11:36 pm

I see two cats. Just saying…

Chris August 29, 2013 - 11:56 pm

I have only one thing to say…

Tower18 August 30, 2013 - 9:58 am

The issue was that these were SOMEONE’s cats that got loose, they weren’t strays. That makes it a little harder to say “screw you lady, we’re not shutting the power. Hope your cats like tunnels” doesn’t it?

Karm August 30, 2013 - 6:37 pm

so you are saying someone who needs to get to work or to the doctor should be inconvenienced since someone couldn’t control their cats??? Is the owner of the cats going to compensate everyone?


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