By Sabina Mollot
There was no time for kitten around last Wednesday afternoon when police were alerted that a stray feline had somehow ended up in the engine of a postal truck parked in Gramercy.
The kitten, which may have been seeking a warm place to hide from the wind, was seen inside the truck on the southwest corner of Second Avenue and 19th Street by a woman who was walking by. She alerted Ted Weiner, veterinarian and owner of the nearby Gotham Animal Clinic, who then ran to the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street between Second and Third Avenues for help. Fortunately, Weiner later told us, a police officer he spotted outside immediately went with him to the scene to help.
“He came right away, no second thoughts,” said Weiner. “Apparently he was an animal lover.”
Eventually, about a dozen cops from the precinct and Emergency Service Unit responded, with each attempting to follow the kitten’s helpless cries to figure out where in the truck she was.
“They were under the truck, they were all over the place,” Weiner said.
Once called about the situation, a couple of local animal rescuers from City Critters also arrived, armed with traps and nets. By then a crowd of curious onlookers had formed.
“People probably thought they were looking for a bomb. There was a huge emergency truck,” Weiner recalled.
Once told the mission was a kitten rescue, though, people said, “’Oh no.’ Everybody was concerned,” noted Marilyn Pascarelli, a Stuy Town resident and animal rescuer.
Then, after at least a couple of hours, one of the officers was finally able to fish out the kitten from the truck’s tire area, not that she was happy about it.
“She was screaming,” said Pascarelli. “I thought she was going to scratch his hand off.”
Pascarelli quickly advised the officer to put the kitten into her trap, which he did. Weiner then looked at the critter, a black and white longhair who appeared to be five weeks old, and said she appeared to be fine. However, she ended up going to two other vets for an exam and blood testing since Weiner was just opening his practice at the time and already had patients waiting to see him.
Later, the kitten went home with Pascarelli, who is fostering her and has named her Melanie.
At this time, Melanie is still awaiting results of tests she got at the vets. Holly Staver, a founding member of City Critters, said the kitten was found to be mostly blind, only able to see shadows. The tests she underwent will help determine if the blindness was caused by toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a parasite.
Meanwhile, Staver noted, “Cats often go into car engines to get warm,” and this can lead to their becoming badly injured. “We’ve had many cases of cats and kittens in engines,” added Staver, citing five in the past year. Fortunately, one recent case, also in a postal truck, ended well with the worker rescuing him. That cat was put up for adoption and found a new home in December.
As for Melanie, “We have no idea how she got there,” said Staver, “but we never know how they got there.” Fortunately, after going home with Pascarelli, “She did what kittens do, which is eat.”
Pascarelli added that because she already has a blind cat, she knows that even a special needs case like Melanie can make a good pet. “They’re not problems,” she said. “People think they’re not going to use the litter box, but they know everything.”
Anyone interested in adopting Melanie or any of City Critters’ other rescued cats and kittens should call (212) 252-3183 and leave a message or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
City Critters has adoption centers at an East Midtown Petco and a PetSmart in Greenwich Village that can be visited on weekend afternoons.