Photo illustration: intelligences; Photos: John Lamparski / Getty Images / Twitter
“I’ve been to Gracie Mansion before. It can easily accommodate 60 cats, ”says Curtis Sliwa, the Republican candidate for New York City mayor, who knows a thing or two about how many pets can fit in an enclosed space. On a rainy afternoon, Sliwa is on the phone from his studio on the Upper West Side and is surrounded by 13 of his 16 cats; the other three are hiding in the closet with his all-red uniforms for the Guardian Angels, the underground vigilante group he founded in 1979.
Sliwa largely overlooked the campaign limelight because of the beatings he is likely to face in November by Democrat Eric Adams: the ratio of cats to people in the apartment he shares with his wife is eight to one City’s ratio of registered Democrats to Republicans. But Sliwa caught some attention this summer for keeping an almost definitely unhealthy amount of animals in a 320-square-foot pad. The image – the cats of a shelter the candidate is caring for, an aging street fighter in a beret – could be a metaphor for the GOP’s demise in New York since Michael Bloomberg changed his party affiliation in 2007, an example of how many Pets Are Too Much: Veterinarians often recommend that owners limit their ranks to around half a dozen, studio or not. (For what it’s worth, the Adams campaign didn’t want to comment on whether 16 is an unacceptable number of cats.)
Sliwa does not yet have the feeling that she has crossed a line; at least he can name each of his feline roommates. When faced with a pop quiz – “Can you name all 16 of your cats?” – it passed straight away. “The patriarch is Apollo, the matriarch is Athena and my very best friend is Ajax,” he summarized. The mythological theme doesn’t hold up, however. “Then there is Drop Foot, Little Big One, Hope, Wolverine, Tuna, Tiny. The newest, four weeks old, that’s Gizmo. Whiskers, crooked head because his head is crooked. Let’s see – who is left? Tiger, love, mom and homer. I don’t think I left anyone out. ”What was more impressive than the speed at which he scrolled through the directory was that he immediately repeated the feat, à la Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, which went through the names of his 12 (fictional) brothers .
The sheer number of tabbies and tuxedos creates some logistical problems for a man campaigning in town. In addition to changing litter three times a day, says Sliwa, he and his wife Nancy are like “cooks in a small space” who have mastered the varied diet of cats, many of which were admitted due to disabilities and were on a list for euthanasia. “Ajax is my best buddy,” says Sliwa of this cat who has a neurological disorder and can only take a few steps before it falls over. “He has overcome difficult chances of survival. You can really tell that he values being alive. ”(Sliwa, who almost died in a mafia attack in the 1990s, can perhaps understand that.) Between the subtleties of his feline health care, he promotes one of the characteristic guidelines of his campaign, besides making the NYPD about the size of his constituency with 40,000 voters in the primary area: the end of killing shelters in America’s largest city.
Confident that he can win despite great chances, Sliwa believes that he will soon be able to accommodate an even larger brood. “Oh yes, there is room for more,” he says. “That’s why I came to the Gracie Mansion: to get more space for the cats.”
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