The Construction Cat

Tribeca resident Stephen Pile has been keeping tabs on—and taking wonderful photographs of—a cat that lives at the Chambers Reconstruction Nightmare. (He’s been taking photos of the rats, too, but let’s leave those for another day.) Here are his notes, taken from Facebook posts and, once I discovered those, emails to me.

All of the photos can (and should) be enlarged by clicking on them.

June 16
The first feral cat I’ve seen in NYC. For the moment she is matron of the W. Broadway-Chambers never-ending underground renovations project, and she appears close to becoming a mother. I’ve circled one of the dozens of rats in her little kingdom. They run back and forth from Bogardus Park, eliciting occasional screams from unsuspecting tourists.


June 17
Another evening, same cat and rat(s). Note in the first photo the cat is peering over the pipe at a rat who is peering into the excavation. The second is in the adjacent Bogardus Garden. I met a local walking her dog who told me the cat has been there about six months, coming out with her “friends” only at night. She’s observed the rats and the cat sharing food together, with the rat actually doing the delivery. Love to have that photo….


June 19
Yesterday was a major disruption for Rat City. Heavy equipment arrived to meaninglessly move dirt around, a normal part of a project that has no deadline, and a rat was abnormally seen mid-day with a WTF look, frantically looking for the old landmarks.


June 25
Just saw the cat again this evening, in the construction apocalypse, as we left Acappella. A wary feline that I’ve courted without success so far, and so close to birthing kittens, and so in the wrong city.


July 19


July 25
I set up a GoPro (videocam) the other night and a rat knocked it down into the garbage. Guess he didn’t want to sign the waiver.


August 8


August 12
The Bogardus Park construction cat is still with us. Just after this photo she made the circuit, crossing over in front of Acappella, diving underground, coming out in the Chambers excavation with her dinner just caught, and moving into another of the construction caverns. A resilient lady.


August 13
My wife and I have attempted to befriend the cat, of course to no avail—she would not still be alive if she had any trust of people left. She was clearly pregnant a couple of months ago, but that has passed, no doubt with tragic consequences for the offspring.


August 15
There is at least one kitten still alive, as I saw it last night down in the intersection “pit” as we were walking home. Amazing. I believe the cat gave birth early July, as I noticed the change when we returned from a trip July 9.

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  1. Wow, really cool Stephen! Keep us updated on the cat and her kitten, and I guess the rats..

  2. Hope the rats don’t attack the kitten

  3. This is totally fascinating!

  4. Has anyone tried to trap the cat and/or kitten? There are plenty of organizations that will take a feral cats (for example, Kitty Kind ) that would rescue the cat from this dangerous situation and relocate it. While the pictures are stunning, it seems to me that having this go on for months is not a safe or humane situation for the cat or her kitten(s).

  5. Wonderful photos but please lets get the cats adopted. contact Empty Cages . I will share this with them as well.

  6. I agree 100% with CB this is no place for a cat or any animal. The cat needs to be safely removed from here and taken to rescue or an adopter. We don’t even know if the can is being fed or has even clean drinking water.

  7. I’ve not seen the mother cat, I’ll call her “Duco” in over a week. As much of the construction site was being paved over these past two weeks, she lost so much territory that I expect she has moved on. The last time I saw her she was carrying a small rat, that she plucked from the middle of 4 large rats. She drank from the many water drips around the site, but seemed to prefer the leaking hydrant at Bogardus Park. She was not a very trappable cat, as she was well fed, hyper wary of humans, and had a labyrinthian domain. Traps are essentially baited cages, and the hundreds of rats, along with her suspicious nature, made traditional trapping impractical. I’ve witnessed her ignoring food left by humans. She would dart away when she heard the click of my camera, even though she was very familiar with me. There were eight kittens born, I believe early July. Seven were gathered up by construction workers, and taken to the Petco on Chambers. From there they went to a rescue group. The 8th kitten, when I saw her, was holed up under the Chambers – West Broadway intersection, where we were able to drop water and food (the last photo above is her feeding). I alerted construction foremen and they had been wondering about the “8th kitten.” Last week, that kitten wandered out into the site, was captured, and has a home with Shannon, one of the traffic guides at the intersection. So now we are left to wonder about Duco.

  8. wonderful. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  9. is a cool organization based in NYC that saves shelter and feral companion animals in greater New York and Puerto Rico. Petco Unleashed has pics of several new born kittens that construction workers found in a storm pipe in Tribeca off Chambers street. Inky blue sea animal rescue has them up for adoption in foster care. I saw their pics on Facebook like page and also on

  10. This is the cat that scared the BEJESUS out of me on the corner of Murray and Greenwich Street! I’ve been wondering where that cat was from for months–saw her 3 times in late spring cruising the corner after 12/1am.

  11. OMG – WTF – Am I missing something? A daily “photo essay” of a flippin’ cat? I know there’s not much to watch on the TV tubes during the summer, but coooooome ooooon!!! Where is Arne Svenson when you need him?

  12. @Smithers: Is it possible that what you’re missing is a heart?

  13. @Torkells: Yes, I guess it’s….possible, but….
    I hope you will publish my photo essay on the lonely bicycles that remain locked & chained to street poles – being abandoned by their owners simply because some precious teenager kicked and bent the front (or rear) wheel frame. It “brakes” my…….heart.

  14. Cool article. The kitten in the photo would have been too old to be one of the 7 1-day old kittens we helped rescue in June from the same spot. Btw those rats are…wow … cute. :cry

  15. Does anyone know if this is one of the kittens? It was in the construction behind City Hall and we have tried to rescue it a few times.

  16. @Melissa L: I have a post on the kittens coming up tomorrow morning. Can’t quite tell if it’s one of them, but maybe you’ll be able to tell.

  17. That would be great, would save me a trip or two, and I’d be happy to learn that kitten was safe. Super friendly and deserves a good home!

  18. I think it might be Astoria on their website!

  19. Cassius, check the time line. Of course the kitten in the photo was the kitten left behind in the rescue. I even witnessed Duco taking a kill to her lair, though I was not able to photograph. The photo of the kitten was taken ~6 weeks after birth, and is entirely consistent. In my farm boy days, I dealt with this kind of thing, and raised one days after birth who lived 16 years, roaming as he wished, coming home for healthcare and RNR. He would lay on the sofa unflinching while we did the antibiotics by injection (Dad did most of his own veterinary work).

  20. A point of information about newborn kittens – they are near thumb size at birth and eyes don’t open for several days, with ears flat and not much hearing. They were rescued after this period. I am amazed Duco managed that transition given the challenges.

  21. Stephen, don’t allow one of those city folk, who have no idea about real life as lived on a farm, to put down your wonderful observations about cats and rats. Those observations and pictures are much more interesting than bicycles.