We needed to share with you our fascination with this outstanding new e-book known as The Cat Males of Gotham: Tales of Feline Friendships in Outdated New York. It’s a historic glimpse into the lives and of an eclectic group of seafaring cats, police cats, fireplace cats, theatrical cats, hospitality cats and plenty of others residing in flip of the century New York Metropolis.
The tough actuality was that the nineteenth century was a tough time to be a stray cat in New York Metropolis. The town’s human residents handled feline overpopulation by gassing undesirable cats or tossing them in rivers. However a couple of fortunate strays had been discovered by a various array of cat males—together with firemen, cops, athletes, and politicians—who rescued them from the streets and welcomed them into their houses and hearts. This e-book tells the tales of those heroic cat males of Gotham and their beloved feline companions, whereas exploring the historical past of the folks, structure, and businesses of New York Metropolis.
Along with introducing us to some outstanding males, we get to fulfill many extraordinary cats, from Chinese language stowaways prowling the Chelsea Piers to the only real feline survivor of the USS Maine explosion. Among the many forty-two profiles, you’ll meet many feline Cinderella tales, as humble alley cats achieved renown as sports activities crew mascots, artists’ muses, and even presidential pets.
We reached out to writer Peggy Gavan to get her insights behind the making of this glorious e-book. Right here’s what she shared with us:
Q: What was the inspiration or catalyst that prompted you to conceive and write Cat Males of Gotham?
The Cat Males of Gotham is predicated on my weblog, Hatching Cat NYC (HatchingCatNYC.com), which I began writing in 2013. My weblog explores the historical past of New York Metropolis by means of true and weird animal tales. My very first story was a couple of Parisian cat that got here to New York in 1911. This cat liked to sit down on eggs whereas being surrounded by child chicks, and folks paid cash to go to her on the previous Palisades Amusement Park. I initially supposed to put in writing a kids’s e-book about her, however as I began doing the analysis, I noticed that exploring historical past by means of superb animal tales was a enjoyable and novel option to find out about Outdated New York.
I’ve written over 200 tales on my weblog—most of the tales are about cats, however I even have tales about canine, cows, alligators, goats, bears, you identify it! As a cat lover, the cat tales are my favourite, so when an acquisitions editor from Rutgers College Press requested me if I used to be fascinated by publishing a e-book, I selected to focus the e-book on felines and their cat-men pals and heroes.
Q: There are 42 true tales of previous New York felines in your e-book … are you able to inform us a bit concerning the analysis effort that went in to discovering these?
I’ve been doing intensive analysis ever since I began writing my Hatching Cat weblog. Every story I write takes me wherever from about 10 to twenty hours of analysis, relying on the subject, the quantity of knowledge obtainable (on-line or in printed books in my residence library), and the quantity of effort required to seek out that data. My sources embody previous newspaper archives, authorities and company studies, maps, historical past books, historic web sites, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester County (actually!), and way more, so I do a whole lot of digging to be as thorough as attainable.
Q: How lengthy did it take you to finish – from thought to certain e-book?
It took me precisely two years and three months to finish the e-book, beginning with my preliminary discussions with the editor at RUP adopted by a really prolonged proposal, through which I had to offer intensive advertising and marketing data, the whole desk of contents, and two pattern chapters. As soon as my proposal was accredited, I spent about 9 months writing the e-book and reference notes, after which it took one other month for somebody to index the e-book.
Q: What was probably the most sudden/uncommon factor you uncovered in your analysis?
Discovering the story about President Teddy Roosevelt coming to the rescue of two Angora cats in Harlem was most likely one of many issues that has stunned me probably the most. I’ve at all times been fascinated by Teddy Roosevelt (my great-grandfather was a mounted patrolman in Queens who served when Roosevelt was New York Metropolis’s police commissioner), and I’ve learn a number of books about him, however I’d by no means heard concerning the Angora cats. I got here throughout the story in an previous newspaper whereas doing analysis for my weblog, and I used to be so excited to find that Teddy was a cat-man hero!
Q: What was probably the most inspiring/inspirational factor you uncovered in your analysis?
New York Metropolis—like all metropolis of that point interval—was not a simple place to be a cat throughout the 1800’s and early 1900’s (it nonetheless is a tricky place to reside for stray cats). Nearly all of folks handled stray cats and even pet cats like atypical trash, tossing their pets into the gutters once they died or drowning kittens within the rivers to eliminate them. There was no such factor as neutering again then, so town streets had been stuffed with hundreds of stray cats (and canine). It was—and continues to be—really inspiring to find so many males of Outdated New York (firemen, policemen, lodge managers, skilled athletes, and so on.) who had been prepared to welcome stray cats into their houses and hearts.
Q: What number of tales did you uncover in complete?
I couldn’t even inform you! Over time, I’ve found actually a whole bunch of true tales about cats of Outdated New York, and I preserve all of those story concepts in quite a few information on my pc damaged down by classes. Some will finally find yourself on my weblog, whereas I hope to show some others into kids’s books if I get that chance.
Q: How did you find yourself deciding on the chosen 42?
Actually, I selected that quantity primarily based on phrase rely and the variety of chapters (I needed to have 9 cat-lives chapters!). The writer gave me a most phrase rely, so I simply stored writing and including favourite tales till I used to be near that quantity. It was very difficult to remain throughout the restrict as I needed to share many extra tales!
Q: For those who needed to choose your 3 favourite tales (aka cats), who would they be and why?
Oh my goodness, they’re all my favorites! However I particularly love the tales about fireplace cats, as a result of I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for 25 years in my hometown. I simply love the story about Tootsy, the white-fleeced feline firefighter of Engine Firm No. 27, as a result of she had a lot spunk and actually loved sneaking onto the brand new motorized fireplace engine and racing (at a whopping 20 miles an hour!) to the scene with the firemen. I additionally adore Olaf, the Nordic seafaring cat who fell overboard and survived by swimming his little coronary heart out for quarter-hour in uneven seas till the sailors reached him within the lifeboat and carried out kitty CPR. The twin story of Holey, who fell and was trapped between two tenement buildings for 2 years, and Gittel, who fell and was trapped on the base of a chimney, can be one my favorites. Little Holey had unimaginable stamina and an ideal will to outlive, and Gittel’s proprietor liked her a lot, he was prepared to ship his solely son down the chimney to rescue her (the poor child bought caught midway down). It’s a narrative that makes me snigger and cry on the identical time!
Q: Is there a risk of a sequel?
Some folks have requested me about doing a narrative concerning the cat ladies of Outdated New York. I actually have sufficient story concepts in my information to fill a e-book, however I at present don’t have the time to put in writing one other grownup nonfiction e-book. Maybe after I retire and have extra time on my fingers.
Q: Every other ‘cat associated’ tasks on faucet?
I’d love to put in writing a e-book for kids primarily based on a few of my cat tales, however my contacts within the kids’s e-book publishing trade inform me that it’s extremely onerous to interrupt into this class. I’m going to take a stab at it, although, so I’ll preserve you posted if I’ve any luck!
Q: You needed to see this one coming … what number of cats do you at present have? Names?
My husband, Joe, and I at present have two cats that we adopted from our native animal shelter. Boo is Joe’s previous man Tuxedo cat—he’s 17 years previous however nonetheless going sturdy. He loves to put on Joe’s lap and he talks to us on a regular basis. Misha is my child woman dilute calico cat—she’s 5 years previous and tremendous athletic and spunky. She prefers my lap, however solely on her phrases.
I’ve additionally had many different cats over time, together with Clypunskins, Harley, Houdini, Romeow, and Hubble.
Q: What particular message would you want to depart with our feline loving readers?
I would love readers to grasp that The Cat Males of Gotham is really a historical past e-book that options cats, and never the opposite manner round. Lots of the tales are primarily concerning the cats and their cat males, however a number of the tales focus extra on the historic or social elements surrounding the cats (eg., the historical past of the constructing or neighborhood the place the cats lived, or the legal guidelines that affected their lives indirectly). The great factor is that there are 42 tales, so there’s something for everybody, whether or not you favor the feline or historic elements.
I additionally at all times need readers to grasp that not each story has a contented Cinderella ending. These are true tales that occurred in harsh environments, so one should have an open thoughts and an appreciation for the historic and social context surrounding every cat story. That is actually a e-book for individuals who wish to see how cats lived and had been handled 100 years in the past.
The Cat Males of Gotham: Tales of Feline Friendships in Outdated New York is obtainable at choose bookstores and quite a few websites on-line, together with Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
In regards to the Creator
Peggy Gavan is a journalist, senior editor, volunteer firefighter, and New Yorker with a ardour for cats and New York Metropolis historical past. She acquired her Bachelor of Science diploma in journalism from Syracuse College and a Grasp of Science diploma in well being communications from Boston College.
Ever since she began writing her weblog, The Hatching Cat: True and Uncommon Animal Tales of Outdated New York (hatchingcatnyc.com), Peggy has been on a endless quest to discover the historical past of New York Metropolis by means of animal tales from the 1800s to World Warfare II. Many of those tales are superb, some are curiously odd, and others fall beneath the file known as “You simply can’t make these things up.” Her favourite tales, although, are those that make folks say, “Wow, who knew!?” Peggy lives in Warwick, New York, together with her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Misha and Boo. They’re each volunteer cat guests for the Warwick Valley Animal Shelter; Peggy might be donating a portion of the proceeds from The Cat Males of Gotham to the shelter.