Rubble: The Unexpected Community Project

by Rowena Henley and Julia Pimentel

Lost Dog’, ‘Missing Kitten’, ‘Give This Puppy A Home.’ Sound familiar? Across New York, posters of vulnerable animals have become almost as commonplace as the telephone poles you find them on. But have you ever wondered about the story behind the poster?

Well, this one revealed a colorful cast within tight-knit community…

Julie Matsumoto (left) found Rubble in Tribeca Park one afternoon in late September. She, along with a few friends, did a lot of the early legwork, like taking the cat to the vet and putting up posters around the neighborhood. Said (right), owner of the nearby Tribeca Park Deli, provided some food that helped catch Rubble.
Erica Rooney (left) and her husband Peter (center) agreed to house the cat before a more permanent home was found. They’re attentive and loving owners, but can’t keep Rubble for much longer. Alexis Holroyde (right) is the veterinarian who made sure Rubble was healthy.

Julie Matsumoto is one of the founders of Friends of Tribeca Park, an organization that maintains the leafy triangular intersection between Beach Street, West Broadway, and 6th Street. The effort to maintain it a hospitable place is thanks in part to the community as a whole. As Julie says, “its always easier to do the more people you get involved. But one person alone is kind of one person alone.”

Julie and her friends, by their own admission, had no idea what they were doing. They were essentially just chasing a frightened kitten around a small park surrounded by loud traffic. Their first instinct brought them to the police station just around the corner from the park. However, there they learned that the Animal Care & Control Center, which is funded by the city’s Department of Health, would only come to rescue a cat under certain circumstances. So, the responsibility fell to this Tribeca community.

Working under the assumption that the way to a cat’s heart is through his stomach, Julie asked for help at the Tribeca Park Cafe across the street. It was a familiar place for her, who’s been going there for 15 years. The owner, Said, didn’t think twice.

“There is a story in my religion: a woman, who lived in sin all her life, was walking along a desert when she spotted a goat dying from thirst. She went to a nearby well and brought water for the goat, saving his life. God then forgave her of all her sins and awarded her with heaven,” he explains. “Earth has been created for mankind — so we’ve been asked to preserve what is around us.” That includes lost kittens.

Said gave Julie a piece of grilled chicken free of charge. As it turns out, Rubble likes chicken.

Julie saw her cat in a crate and knew it had to be one healthy cat in a crate. Not even a minute’s walk away is the Tribeca Soho Animal Hospital, where one of the vets, Alexis Holroyde, was willing to check Rubble for fleas and injuries at no cost.

“He was very sweet, which is somewhat unusual for a cat that you find on the street,” Alexis said. “He was gently head-butting us and purring. That probably means he was somebody’s pet at some point.”

This little tabby cat showed how, when push comes to shove, a New York neighborhood can and will come together to help out someone (or some cat) in need.

— — — — — — — — — UPDATE 25/10/2015 — — — — — — — —

Rosie (4), Linda, Rubble, and James (almost 6)

Linda Lambert, her husband, and her two children have officially adopted Rubble. They’ve just moved to this downtown community from New Jersey, and it was important to all of them that they adopt a cat for their new home. Through a community of her own, the Hudson River Park Mommas, Linda saw a post regarding a lost kitten and knew he would make the perfect addition to their family.

“He’s been here about a week,” Linda tells us. “We’re learning his personality… He seems to have very good manners,” she says. “But we’ve learned that he loves toes. He has a bit of a foot fetish.”

“His full name is Mr. Pixie Rubble Lambert,” James says.