Cat Emergency in my Building

On Thursday I noticed that a cat was crying continually in the apartment underneath me. I knocked on the door, but no one was home. The next day the cat was still crying constantly. I knocked again and still no answer. I knocked on the door of the apartment next door to see if they knew if anyone was living there. No answer.

Long story short: since then I’ve been knocking on both doors periodically during the day and night and no one has been home. I put a sign on the door early Sunday morning, and I also put a piece of paper in the doorframe which would fall if anyone opened the door. I called the super and he said someone was feeding the cat every day which could be true, except it’s now over 24 hours and that piece of paper is still in the door. When I called the super back this morning to say no one came yesterday to feed the cat he said someone had. Since I now know that is not true I can’t be sure that anyone has been there to feed the cat at all since Thursday (or before that, Thursday is only the day I first noticed it).

You’re told to call 311 in cases of animal abuse or neglect. I opened a report online and they closed the report saying the police had no access. Hello? Isn’t that the issue, an animal is possibly abandoned in a locked apartment? If access wasn’t a problem I’d already be in there. I called 311 this time and opened another report and they closed that one within minutes. I also stopped by the local precinct and they said they couldn’t do anything and gave me a number to call this morning. I got a machine (also, it’s the number for the Domestic Violence unit and I feel weird calling them about animal neglect). I’ve been calling the landlord and they’re still not in yet. I noticed that the NYPD’s animal investigation unit uses twitter so I tweeted them yesterday, and they answered this morning. They took the two 311 call reference numbers and the address, but I haven’t heard back yet. I imagine I am one of many calls and tweets though, so I’m still hopeful.

I’m going to continue to try to reach the landlord and others but if I don’t get a response by noon, I will consider more drastic measures. I read that a cat can only go without water for a few days and it’s been a few days.

Noon: Haven’t heard back from the landlord or from the animal investigation unit. The cat is still crying continually.

12:16: I reached the landlord of the building and he promises someone will be here within an hour to open the door.

1:58: Someone from the landlord’s office arrived and he was about to go in through the window when the tenant called. She must be out of town, and she said a friend would come, but who knows when?? I told the landlord’s guy that I would call him if no one showed up by 5. The cat is still crying.

3:15: The tenant just called me! She thought someone was coming regularly to take care of the cat while she was out of town, and I said I don’t think they’ve been coming as much as they say, but we weren’t having a battle about it. This person is a real cat person too, and as a matter of fact this is a foster cat!! So she was very nice on the phone, and grateful to know, and I said I’d be happy to take care of the cat in the future. She said her friend promised to get there by 5:30. Help is on the way little guy!

4:50: Sgt. Michael Murphy, the CO of the NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, just called in response to my report!! He was so great. He explained that his unit investigates big cases, like dog fighting, and my local precinct is actually responsible to investigate possible animal neglect. He called my precinct to let them know, but of course it still would have played as it has. Because they’re not going to break the door down unless the animal is in imminent danger and all other avenues into the apartment have been explored. So we still would have waited for the landlord to try to get in, etc.

But, the NYPD is ready to respond if that friend doesn’t show up. My poor neighbor, who seems like she is actually a lovely person. All this drama. And maybe the friend has been showing up, just not every day. She said food and water was left out, but I asked the landlord’s guy if he saw that when he looked in the window and he said no. But maybe it was in another room.

5:35: I just checked and my sign is gone and the paper is gone so someone was in there. I called my neighbor to make sure and she said yes, and that her friend had called and the cat was okay. I can now rest and go to the summer sing I planned to attend!

Later Update: I met the friend who is taking care of the cat and she is clearly a great and caring person who loves the cat. She also introduced me to the cat, who is a love bug. So the cat is totally fine and in good hands.

The door with my sign.


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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8 thoughts on “Cat Emergency in my Building

  1. Oh God!! What kind of person does that?? This isn’t turning out to be a case like that, thank God. Also, I’m trying to be more sensitive about publicly shaming people. I’m not perfect, etc.

    Also, that article points out how we don’t shame murderers and white collar criminals. I can understand why people don’t shame murderers (FEAR) but why don’t we shame white collar criminals? At least when we know who they are??

  2. I was just reminded of the story I read in the last year about a young mother who left her baby alone so she could go party. However, when I googled “young mother left baby alone to party” I got all kinds of different hits! So apparently, the stupidity is not restricted to leaving pets at home.

    As for the shaming, it is an interesting question. There doesn’t seem to be shaming of the young mothers. So what is it that prompts the angry masses to go on a shaming bender? There have been some recent articles about shaming people who make stupid remarks on Twitter, who have even lost their jobs because of it. The mass communications ability at our fingertips is so new to us as a species that perhaps this is just the shakedown part of the evolution of communication. And people who leave pets alone are ‘low hanging fruit’, maybe.

    I’ll have to save this for my next philosophy thesis! Or maybe the one after that, as I already know what I want to do for my PhD. 🙂

  3. I’m checking for cat updates, so I am glad to see that help is on the way. And I think it’s a great idea for all kinds of reasons, if you take care of her cat the next time.

    Yes, classes are over. I am trying to write my thesis as fast as I can (interrupted of course, by the internet and cat things of course!) It is particularly esoteric, being in metaethics. Only a few people will ever read it – the panel when I defend it! Still, I am glad it is interesting to me. My ‘claim’ is: “A narrative theory of identity may account for changes in a person’s moral outlook.” I have to explain each word, practically. Go, me!

  4. So glad you resolved this issue.

    I recently had a disturbing situation with neighbors and their pit bull. The dog was just a pup, but they tethered it up at the back of my fence. Though they put a raggedy dog house out there, during the heat of the day the dog had nowhere to get out of the extreme sun (the house would have been unbearable). I called animal control, had them out here twice, and both times they put notices on their door — no one would come to door, though obviously someone was home.

    Then the people stopped feeding or leaving water for the dog, so I started doing that myself. The pup learned I was kind, and was very friendly to me. However, I’m unable to care for that size of dog, or I’d have asked to take him myself. He got loose twice, and there’s kids all over this neighborhood; he was very standoffish to everyone except me. The third time he got loose he came to my carport, and I started giving him treats, called animal control. When the officer arrived, he was afraid to get out of his vehicle; the pit bull was pacing across my carport, looking aggressive. However, when I came out, called to the dog, he came running over and the officer got out, to be licked by the dog. And he took the dog into the animal shelter.

    Here’s the thing: one of the animal welfare groups I belong to is fighting to get legislation passed in Alabama against tethering. It can make a dog aggressive, especially if the owners never interact or abuse the dog (and that is what I’d say about those particular owners of the pit).

    It’s just so sad, but I could NOT stand by and watch that dog tied up starving, even without water or shade. I even put a piece of plywood over there for him to get out of the heat.

    Hope the shelter can find him a home, or he can get in a foster home or pit bull rescue. He is still young and friendly enough that someone could make him a great dog. But I just can’t; I have two small dogs, feed stray cats and work with a couple animal groups trying to get laws changed regarding pet legislation.

    At any rate, thank YOU for doing something. So often people just think it’s someone else’s problem and the animal/pet suffers. We all need to do something when we see pet and/or child abuse; otherwise sometimes nothing is done.

  5. Cara, that made me well up. What a story! Knowing how you are it must have killed you to see what that poor dog had to endure. If it weren’t for you, showing the animal control officer that the dog was friendly, god knows what would have happened to him. You saved his life. And yeah, you have enough pets as it is, alas. I will hope for the best for him, which will probably happen!!

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