Two kittens, trapped on the tracks near the Church Avenue subway station, caused a 90-minute delay along the Q and B lines yesterday. The New York Times is reporting that the kittens, named Arthur and August, were subsequently rescued.
When the saga began, train operators described the situation as “ongoing NYPD activity” to stranded straphangers, which is rather hilarious in hindsight. Eventually, passengers, stuck for almost two hours, were let in on the truth. Rider Sandra Polel told the Daily News that she didn’t mind the delay.
“The announcer said it had to stop to rescue some cats. I didn’t mind. I wanted to get home, but I also wanted the kittens to be safe,” Pole told the Daily News.
Attempts to rescue the cats during the 90 minute delay proved futile and regular service along the B and Q continued after 1 p.m. The cats were still visible to officials and subway riders, dangerously huddled underneath the third rail.
Another delay occurred around rush hour when the express track was suspended at 5:45 p.m. The Daily News described how the cats were eventually rescued:
Letitia Delacorte Spangler, 31, joined the crowd at the platform to watch the commotion.
She said a plainclothes officer and a uniformed officer jumped down on the tracks.
“People were throwing out ideas. The wind blew off a box of honey buns in their direction. We thought, ‘Maybe that would work?’ ”
The two officers kept running alongside the third rail, but the kittens kept eluding them, scampering back and forth.
“They were quick! They kept running up and down,” she said.
An MTA worker rerouted an oncoming B train, then joined them wearing an orange vest.
“One of the officers then had an insulated glove. He just scooped them out, despite all escape tactics,” said Spangler.
The 4-week-old kittens were placed in carrying crates at about 6 p.m. and shipped off to the Brooklyn Animal Care Shelter on Linden Blvd, where a spokesman said they will get medical evaluations. For now, the two are safe. Rescuers even gave the pair names, Arthur and August.
While the story had a happy ending and is very heartwarming, the Times noted that questions were raised over the MTA’s handling of the matter, considering the long delays that resulted:
Though the authority had said officers were involved in the first search, the department refuted that throughout the day, perhaps seeking to distance itself from the service disruption. “We don’t shut down trains searching for cats,” a police spokesman said…
But the circumstances on Thursday presented a wrinkle: It is easy to root for a search that has little downside; one that snarls train service is another matter.
“I’m pro-cat,” Alex Davies, a reporter for Business Insider, posted on Twitter, “but this is absurd.”…
Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, said the decision to shut down service was understandable given the time of day. “It would be a tougher choice if it were the Lexington line at 8:30 in the morning,” he said.
I do feel bad that many people in our area had to deal with an absurdly long delay. But, whatever, hooray for kittens!