The nineteenth century was a rough time to be a stray cat in New York City. The city’s human residents dealt with feline overpopulation by gassing unwanted cats or tossing them in rivers. But a few lucky strays were found by a diverse array of men—including firemen, cops, athletes, and politicians—who rescued them from the streets and welcomed them into their homes and hearts.
This book tells the stories of these heroic cat men of Gotham and their beloved feline companions. Not only does it introduce us to some remarkable men, but we get to meet many extraordinary cats as well, from Chinese stowaways prowling the Chelsea Piers to the sole feline survivor of the USS Maine explosion. Among the forty-two profiles, we find many feline Cinderella stories, as humble alley cats achieved renown as sports team mascots, artists’ muses, and even presidential pets.
Sure to appeal to cat fanciers and history fans alike, The Cat Men of Gotham will give you a new appreciation for Old New York and the people and animals who made it their home. As it takes you on a journey through the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, it will amuse and astound you with tales of powerful men and their pussycats.
About the Author
PEGGY GAVAN is a journalist and senior editor who lives in Warwick, New York. She is the author of several children’s books and the blog The Hatching Cat: True and Unusual Animal Tales of Old New York, which has been profiled in Newsweek and the New York Times.
“Peggy Gavan has a true storyteller’s enthusiasm—that rare, admirably frenetic need to share as much as she can about her subject matter. [She] focuses mainly on stories from the mid-1800s to World War II, and her writing provides more than just quirky time capsules of yesteryear’s animal life. She emphasizes historical context, allowing readers to see how seemingly minor animal incidents had big influences on modern culture.”
— Victoria Bekiempis
“[Peggy Gavan has] obviously has done a lot of work and is very devoted to her topic ... Every now and then, you'll turn up a history that mentions a quirky animal story here or there, but to my knowledge this is the first time anybody has really made a compendium of such stories.”
— Michael Miscione
"A colorful look at the many notable cats in New York City's history and the humans who influenced their nine lives for good or, sadly, sometimes ill. Here's to the 'hero cat men of Gotham!'"
"I was willingly lured down countless dark alleys on the trail of New York’s most famous, courageous, and well-traveled felines of history. A delightful read that left me wishing for more milk in my pan!"
— Brian Hartig
— Warwick Advertiser
"So where are the “cat women” in this story? Gavan said that strict gender roles kept women out of the workplaces and social spaces that tended to draw more attention from the male-dominated press, meaning women didn’t show up in as many of the news articles that have informed her book."
— The Guardian
"Each cat’s tale is the catalyst for riveting backstories of the police stations, theaters, speakeasies, and hotels that have always made Manhattan a mecca for the rich and powerful, the quiet and quirky. A fun and factual adventure that appeals to cat lovers and history buffs alike."
"Atmospheric...Lively prose conveys [Gavan's] passion for the city and its rich history. Cat Men of Gotham will be most enjoyed by those who are familiar with New York City history but also by anyone who has ever been amused by or in love with cats."
— Foreword Reviews
— New York Post
"Cat-lovers and New York City history buffs alike will thoroughly enjoy The Cat Men Of Gotham, Tales of Feline Friendships in Old New York and the short stories within."
— Untapped Cities
— The Daily Star
— Warwick Advertiser
— Purrington Post
"Kitty-cats and New York City? This can't miss. Peggy Gavan's history has lots of heart, but it's not fluff. Her book, with profiles of 42 cats and the righteous firefigthers, cops, politicians and other men who saved them from the mean streets of 19th-century New York, sheds light on the hardships encountered by both humans and felines of the era."
— USA Today