For 10 whole years, Petro lived the life of an ordinary house cat with a family on a street called First Place in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Petro ate and stretched, played with stuffed animals and dozed in a beanbag chair.
When the couple had a second child, everything changed.
“He was the baby,” said Petro’s owner Jennifer Chi. “He wasn’t getting enough attention anymore, and he was jealous.”
Petro took to going outside every day to get attention from people passing by. Petro makes his regular rounds of the neighborhood so often that residents have dubbed him the mayor.
“Most cats are kind of like ‘I really don’t care,’” said Emma Butler, 12, who goes to school nearby. “But a few weeks ago, I saw this little girl, she fell off her scooter. She was crying and bleeding — she was 5 or something. The cat went right up to her, meowed in her face, and she started laughing and hugging him.”
Reporting for The New York Times, journalist Andy Newman hauled his notebook and camera down to First Place in Carroll Gardens and documented Petro’s new domain, which stretches from Clinton Street all the way to Court Street.
Newman followed Petro as he stopped into the homes of neighbors, and — seemingly with impunity — greeted children, posed for some photos and even threatened dogs.
“He’s the perfect pet for us,” one neighbor told the reporter as Petro dropped by for a visit. “We don’t have to clean out a litter box.”
Photo credits: Christopher Lee, The New York Times