Meow! The fur flew this Saturday during FeLine Friends of the High Line, the first annual cat festival on the High Line. From the Rail Yards Gate to the Gansevoort Woodland, hundreds of fuzzy felines and their human companions spent the day purring, napping, gossiping, and then napping again.
A bubble blowing machine, several dozen laser pointers, three 10-foot-long “Fun Tunnels,” and all kinds of cardboard boxes kept the frisky felines entertained from morning till dusk. Volunteer Lucy Redoglia marveled at the high turnout as she flicked a feathered cat teaser for a clowder of mesmerized calicos. “After the Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Festival last August, I thought, ‘New York should be doing something like this!’” she said.
A rumored visit from Internet sensation Grumpy Cat left the human visitors breathless with excitement. Alas, the notoriously cranky kitty declined the invitation, issuing a terse refusal from her Arizona home. Nevertheless, visitors on four legs and two enjoyed the sunshine, fresh air, and conspicuous lack of annoying dogs. “It’s so awesome that I can walk Kitty, White Bear, and Grey Kitty on their leashes in peace, without fear that an army of pampered French bulldogs will mess with their flow,” said visitor Willa Köerner. Her friend Gretchen Scott insisted that the High Line’s very horticulture favored kitties. “Do you think the Giant Pussy Willow, hailed in cat legend, would unfurl its fuzzy catkins up here for a bunch of dogs?” she asked.
But not everyone was thrilled to see the park go to the cats. Visitor and known dog lover Ashley Tickle was dismayed that she couldn’t walk her French bulldog, Mr. Puddles, on the High Line while cats roamed freely. “This is ridiculous—dogs are just classier,” she said.
Classy or not, High Line Gardener Maeve pointed out that dog urine, unlike cat urine, harms the plants on the High Line. “Betula populifolia, Calamagrostis brachytricha, and—as we’re all aware—Salix chaenomeloides react very poorly to the pH of canine urine,” she explained. “But it’s perfectly safe to expose, say, Nepeta faassenii to cat pee,” Maeve added thoughtfully.
Our Nepeta faassenii, or catmint, was exposed to all that and more on Saturday when two portly domestic shorthairs ravaged the park’s catmint beds. Amadeus and Madame Meowsers, the feline “children” of visitor Carl Weber, ingested a large amount of the herb, which grows in the Northern Spur Preserve. In what appeared to be a drug-induced mania, the cats jumped wildly up and down the Seating Steps, sending visitors’ macchiatos and kombucha teas flying. Quick-thinking visitor Kim Drew saved the day by throwing a tinfoil ball toward the exit, prompting the cats to scamper off after it. Police are still investigating.
Despite this minor incident, the High LIne’s first-ever cat festival was a smashing success. “Coco is pleased with your event,” said local cat fancier JiaJia Fei, stroking the three-year-old tuxedo kitty she named after the glamorous Chanel founder. “’Satisfactory job, humans,’” Fei translated for Coco.