Police and animal rescue specialists saved a shivering kitten from an Upper East Side subway station early Monday morning, trapping the cat to spare her from a perilous fate after she had spent at least a week walking across the tracks and under the third rail.
Aptly named Subway, the young black cat was saved from the East 96th Street-Second Avenue train station by neighborhood resident Sonia Izak, a volunteer animal rescue and rehabilitation specialist, in collaboration with officers from the Upper East Side’s 19th Precinct and Transit District 4 after several sightings, 911 calls, and a weekend of back and forth with the MTA.
“It was very imperative that we get this kitten out of there as soon as possible because it could have been electrified at any point in time,” Izak told Upper East Site in an exclusive interview. “The fact that it lasted down there for a week without being electrocuted is actually pretty miraculous.”
Izak, who was on Long Island when she was alerted to the kitten last Saturday night, sent fellow animal rescuer Harley Brooks to find the cat. However, Izak says the MTA supervisor on duty would not accommodate the rescue because it would have required cutting power to the third rail.
Izak and Brooks returned around midnight to try again.
“The kitten was right there on the tracks,” Izak said. “I had the trap ready and everything, and unfortunately, we did not have the cooperation of the MTA to do anything.”
The next day, Sunday the 29th, Izak returned with cops from the 19th Precinct, including Officer Maharaj, whom she had previously worked with to free a dog from a hot car, as Upper East Site reported at the time.
After four hours of searching, there were no sightings, but Izak says did learn from several MTA employees that the cat had first been seen as early as January 20th, meaning she had been cold, starving and alone for at least a week.
The officers had to leave, but Izak stayed, tirelessly searching for the tiny animal. As Sunday turned to Monday, “at midnight, we found the kitten down one of the tunnels.”
Her police contact then called in officers from Transit District 4, the NYPD precinct that serves the Upper East Side’s subway stations, which allowed cops to lower the trap down to the track bed near the platform without turning off the power, since the electrified third rail runs on the opposite side of the tracks.
“I had suggested we use the laser to lure the kitten towards the trap because it was further down the tunnel,” Izak said, referring to the lasers present on NYPD officers’ tasers.
Finally, around 2:15 am Monday morning, “We were essentially able to just get the kitten to go straight into the trap following the laser, and immediately the trap closed, and we were able to raise the trap and have the kitten.”
She then took Subway back to the 19th Precinct, where she hand-fed her, staying until 4:00 am. Officer Maharaj then took the kitten to the ASPCA in the morning.
Weighing only a couple of pounds and thought to be around three months old, Subway will be placed up for adoption when she recovers from her ordeal, which, Izak believes, could have been shorter had she had the full cooperation of the MTA.
“[It] left us frustrated and discouraged,” Izak said of the MTA supervisor’s unwillingness to aid in the rescue. “It took a little over 24 hours, lots of patience and planning, but in the end, it all came together very smoothly, and we were able to rescue little Subway swiftly and safely, which is all that matters.”