Train Cats: Sadie the Subway Cat

You may not know it, but across the globe there are several working cats that reside at train stations. One of the most famous is named Tama, she is the “Super Stationmaster” at Kishi station in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. In New York we too have a “working cat” – you can call her the Subway Cat. Her name is Sadie, and she resides at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn.

When I first encountered Sadie I was downstairs at the museum taking photos of all the different subway cars. When I entered the money car they have on display, I saw a cat lounging on one of the shelves. I leaned out the door of the car and shouted to my friend, “Hey! Get over here now! There’s a cat inside this car!” I must admit I was surprised, as I wondered where the cat came from. But then I noticed a tag on the collar, which read “Sadie, Transit Museum”. Sadie was adopted from a shelter by the museum, and is not the first feline resident. Previously there was a cat named Token. Token disappeared one day (one museum employee I talked to is convinced Token was just taken home by somebody, as opposed to disappearing on his own). Sadie stays at the museum, though on long weekends or holidays she goes home with one of the employees.

But as I said, Sadie is a working cat. Sadie’s job description is rodent control. Though I’ve never been able to get a straight answer from anyone whether she has actually caught a subway rat before. Some people are disgusted by that. “She catches the RATS in the SUBWAY and you TOUCHED her?!?!” She has a bell on her collar, which apparently scares the rats away. If you go to the museum to see Sadie, be sure to note that she is grey and white. She is not brown. If you see something large and brown running around, it is probably a Sadie-size subway rat.

Upon a visit to the museum, I had this conversation with the ticket collector:
Me: So is the rat catcher around today?
Him: The what?
Me: The cat. Sadie. Is she around?
Him: (Laughs) She’s around somewhere, probably catching more Z’s than rats though!

Whether she catches rats or not (I have been assured that she has at least caught some pigeons though), Sadie has become somewhat of a mascot of the Transit Museum. In the gift shop you can purchase a stuffed cat, with her picture on the front of the package, that comes with markers so you can decorate her. If you ask me though, they ought to play up the mascot role a bit more for her. Maybe get her a mini cat-sized conductor’s hat to wear (yeah right). Or maybe even use her in some advertising, or the educational programs for children.

Supposedly the aforementioned cat, Tama, brought a million dollars into the local economy just by being cute, and encouraging people to ride the train. Hey Sadie, want to go save the W and Z trains? I hear the MTA could use a little money.

In other news, I continue planning my own trip to Japan in April. I will be posting my train adventures, and hopefully I will be able to go to Kishi station, and meet the “Super Stationmaster” herself!

Read More