Spencer Service has seen cats in the alley below his Ocean Avenue apartment before. But Monday afternoon was the first time he'd seen one surrounded by newborn kittens—on the precipice of the biggest storm to slam New York City in recent history.
"I was looking out the window as Sandy was rolling in, and I saw some kittens moving around down there. I thought, 'Well that’s different,'" the 26-year-old Prospect Park employee told Patch on Tuesday.
As the rain began to fall and the wind picked up speed, Service and his roommate headed downstairs, intending to shelter the fledgling feline family under a cardboard box.
As he approached the new mother, Service saw that she and her babies were nestled in a plastic bag, filled with what appeared to be some well-meaning passerby's leftovers.
"I went to put the box over her and saw that she was sitting in a bag of some sort of Spanish rice and half a chicken breast or something," he said. "It looked like someone was trying to feed her, but it was half-hearted at best."
Service did indeed shelter the soaking furballs in the cardboard box. He turned to leave, his plan successfully executed, but as he headed back to his apartment, he stopped.
"We just didn't feel 100 percent that we did everything we could," he said.
Spencer wound up walking back into his apartment, but it wasn't to bear down against the rapidly brewing storm.
Instead, he grabbed a cat carrier, lined the bottom with t-shirts, and prepared to embark on the trek to Sean Casey's E. 3rd Street rescue facility, nearly two miles away from his Flatbush home.
First though, he was faced with the challenge of luring a protective new mother into the carrier, a task that, happily, proved easier than expected.
"She wasn’t meowing, she wasn’t hissing, anything like that," Service said. "I put a treat in front of her and she got right up and went into the carrier. I picked each kitten up by the scruff of their necks, and made the hike."
Upon his arrival, volunteers mopped dry the kittens and their mother, all of which were wet, but unharmed. A volunteer is keeping the whole cat family at her home until the kittens are old enough for adoption.
But Service hasn't seen the last of the kittens he helped save.
"I'm planning on taking one of them," he said. "I can’t not."