This is the courtyard where Hootie lives. He tends to hang out under those trees and he can be hard to find.
It took me some doing - I had to search for awhile - but then I found Hootie, curled up in this spot, fast asleep. I did not want to wake him.
Looks like I woke him up anyway. I did not really find this cat - Tryskuit did. She and Charlie had come to New York in September to listen to music. They had been walking and walking and walking and walking and they saw Hootie's courtyard and thought it would be a good place to sit down and take a break.
So they did.
And then they saw a small group of people gathered by the wall, reaching out to something with their hands. They looked closer and saw that they were petting a cat. So Tryskuit and Charlie went over to pet the cat, too.
After I arrived in New York, Tryskuit emailed me a map to show me just where the cat lived.
About the same time that I spotted the cat, a woman came along, looking for it. She told me the cat had many friends, who fed and cared for it. I asked its name. She said it didn't really have a name, but she called it, "Pretty Kitty." She said some people thought it was a male, but she was pretty certain it was female.
See the little entrance through the lattice fence? The lady explained to me that, not long ago, the whole courtyard area had been rebuilt by the owners of the big, tall, building pictured above. Prior to the new construction, the cat had moved freely back and forth between this courtyard and another on the other side, by a Hooter's restaurant.
There was a small shed on the other side and in it the cat would take shelter from rain and cold. So the buildings managers had the door built into the lattice fence to enable Pretty Kitty to go freely back and forth.
I wandered off but the next day I wandered back. Now I found another lady putting some food out for "Pretty Kitty."
"Hootie," she corrected me. "His name is Hootie, because sometimes he likes to hang out at Hooters." Just imagine the pictures that I could have taken if I had found him hanging out there!
She also assured me that he was most definitely male. Someone had closely checked. Nothing female about him, she said.
He may be a male, but apparently Hootie can never be a daddy. See how his left ear is flattened at the top? The lady explained that the City of New York has a program to neuter feral street cats. Once a cat is neutered, they clip the tip of one ear to identify it as such.
The lady told me that she believed Hootie is the best fed and best cared for street cat in all of New York. There is a small group of people who watch out for his every need. One is a woman who works at Victoria's Secret, also on the other side of the fence.
Hmmm... Hooter's... Victoria's Secret...
Good thing he's neutered. This could all get him very frustrated, otherwise. Well, maybe not. He's a cat, not a man.
Still... oh hell! I'm frustrated just thinking about it!
Anyway, the Victoria's Secret lady has a traveling kennel all set to go, should any kind of emergency ever arise and Hooter be put in need of transport. They all hope it does not ever come to this. Once, a gentleman in the group of people who love Hootie thought that maybe he would bring him home, give him a house to live in.
But Hootie became completely unnerved when the man tried to put him in a kennel and take him away. The woman that I spoke with has been coming to this place for five years and Hootie has been then the entire time. Some believe that he has been there for eight years, she told me.
He seems happy. He is well-cared for, so, after he got so upset, his friends decided just to let him keep living as he is living, but to always be prepared to evacuate him in an emergency.
The woman told me that she does not believe Hootie to be a danger to wildlife. She has observed him playing with birds and mice, but has never seen him kill or injure one. "We keep him well-fed," she explained. "He does not get hungry for birds and mice. Birds and mice are safe with Hootie."
Goodbye, Hootie. Take good care, Hootie. Say "hi" to all your friends for me, Hootie. If you are ever in Alaska, drop by and meet the Kracker Cats.
I can't wait to go back to New York City, so that I can hopefully see you again, Hootie.
This time, maybe we'll take our pictures on the other side of the lattice fence, call out some nearby workers to pose with you.
Hootie, all snuggled up in Hooter's.