We've now entered Day 3 of Black Cat That Captured Ours Hearts And Minds During The Giants-Cowboys Game. The cat is still, well, being a cat and doing cat things on his own goddamn cat schedule, thank you very much. That includes hiding out in the bowels of MetLife Stadium—in other words, stadium staff have been unable to locate him and take him to the veterinarian as promised. However, the black cat's presence is raising awareness of the feral cats living at the Meadowlands. [UPDATE: The stadium is working with a TNR team to locate this fella; more details below.]
To recap: During Monday Night Football this week, a handsome big boy darted onto the field during the game, interrupting the second quarter for a few minutes—inadvertently scoring a touchdown in the process—before running into a tunnel at the stadium.
The Cowboys' win over the Giants after the cat incident led Cowboys owner (and Chris Christie pal) Jerry Jones to joke that he'd been keeping the cat "in a deep, dark spot in that stadium, ever since Hoffa (in the old stadium)," and was waiting to unleash him.
Four years ago, Michael Marra, a semi-retired firefighter who worked at the complex, was charged with illegally feeding cats at the Meadowlands racetrack, because the town of East Rutherford prohibit the feeding of stray animals. However, Marra's lawyer said that his client—spending $400 a week of his own money—had worked out a deal where he was allowed to feed the cats. Eventually, the charges were dismissed and Marra was given conditional discharge.
The cats were originally brought to the racetrack to keep rodents from the horses' stables. An employee at the stadium told the NY Post today, "There are over 300 feral cats in the complex right now. I go to seven or eight colonies at the [Meadowlands] racetrack, and there are people feeding them at MetLife."
He said of Monday Night Feline, "I looked and said, ‘That looks like one of the cats I feed!’... That cat was unbelievable! He’s a big cat, a healthy cat, wasn’t he?"
The employee also revealed that the cats consume 11 25-pound bags of dry food a week: "The ownership [of the MetLife Sports Complex] pays for it, but I kick in 18 to 24 cans of wet food each week. They love the wet food." (Wet food is very important for hydration!)
Carol Tyler, owner of Tyco Animal Control (they help with animal control in East Rutherford), told News 12, "The cats do wander the complex, all three parts of the complex—the American Dream, MetLife Stadium and also the racetrack."
However, a spokeswoman for MetLife Stadium denied there were hundreds of cats there: "We are an outdoor facility and at times have seen one or two cats roaming around (most famously Monday night)."
Kathleen O'Malley, Director of Education for the NYC Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, had been watching the game and noticed the cat's "big, wide tomcat face," which suggests that he's not neutered or wasn't neutered until after he was two years old. "But he didn't have an ear tip," O'Malley said, referring to how stray or feral cats get a little clip on the ear to indicate they have been spayed or neutered.
O'Malley was involved in Trap-Neuter-Release efforts with the cats at the racetrack in 2014. She hypothesized, "The stadium cats could be a spinoff of stable colony," as it's one big sports complex. "They should be spayed and neutered—and vaccinated and maintained in an orderly managed colony."
As for Big Boy, O'Malley said, "He should be TNR’d and put back with the rest of the colony... be a retired cat and stop breeding."
Being neutered would also make him less likely to roam. "I don't know if his reproductive status had something to do with why he ran out onto the field," O'Malley said.
"The stadium holds so many games and concerts, it's a testimony to the cats that no one sees them other times," she pointed out. "They keep to themselves and keep rodents under control and do their job quietly."
Amen. Let's get some TNR groups to the Meadowlands stat—and continue writing fanfic:
And if you have questions about a cat you see outside, our guide to helping NYC's cats might be helpful!
DAY 4 UPDATE: MetLife Stadium continues to intercept—and deny—claims that there are hundreds of cats are residing there, as well as informing everyone that they were working with a TNR team, Puppy Kitty New York City, to find Black Football Cat.