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Cat-astrophe: Neighbors quarrel after resident takes beloved alley cat

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor
Posters decrying the disappearance of Kitty Snows were posted throughout the historic Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

A walk down I Street in historic Foggy Bottom used to result in an affectionate interaction with Kitty Snows, the alley cat who lives in the area. Normally, Kitty would present herself to be petted, nuzzling into an outstretched hand, or would flop into a lounging position on the sidewalk to soak up sun.

Kitty Snows became a mini-celebrity of historic Foggy Bottom after she arrived in the neighborhood in 2021 as part of D.C.’s Blue Collar Cat program, which moves semi-feral cats into the city to help control the rat population. Admirers created an Instagram fan account for Kitty, and devotees to Kitty gave her food and water.

But about two weeks ago, neighbors noticed that Kitty had disappeared. Fans desperate for answers put up posters seeking Kitty’s return and residents of the neighborhood spread awareness of the cat’s disappearance in emails and texts.

Late last week, neighbors discovered Kitty had been taken. Local Barbara Rohde took her into her home in the Watergate complex last month, alleging in conversations with The Hatchet that the neighbors tasked with caring for Kitty through the Blue Collar program had underfed her and neglected to treat her scabbing nose.

Neighbors said they had kept Kitty up to date on vaccinations, fed her and took her to veterinary appointments for a nose condition, adding that they hope to see her return to the neighborhood.

Rohde said she and her dog walker took Kitty to her veterinarian after noticing scabbing on her nose for several months, resulting in a $300 bill. She said the veterinarian told her Kitty could not return to the streets.

“She had no water, she had no food,” Rohde said. “Without my dog walker, she would not be alive.”

Rohde said she is considering filing animal cruelty charges against the locals tasked with caring for Kitty, who she thinks violated the terms of her adoption.

“They’re very, very aggressive in saying how wrong we are, and I just wish they would’ve spent a tenth of the time taking care of this poor little cat,” Rohde said.

Blue Collar program participants must “provide daily food and clean water, shelter, and basic health care throughout the animal’s lifetime,” according to the Humane Rescue Alliance’s website. The Humane Rescue Alliance did not immediately return a request for comment.

Community members said Kitty is well taken care of by neighbors.

Will Crane, a member of the Foggy Bottom Association, said he took Kitty to the vet in August, and the veterinarian said Kitty’s nose condition was a result of seasonal allergies, which resolved itself in the fall.

He added that she is friendly with passersby and neighbors, who have reported Kitty attending fraternity parties in the area.

“No joke, she’ll hang out at a frat party for a little bit, and like there’s 100 people in there, and she’ll just take off when she wants to,” Crane said. “She has a cat house, she has shelter, many people feed her, but she’s a working cat.”

Kitty has a hutch on I Street near 25th Street, which another Blue Collar cat, Sylvester, also uses. Crane said Kitty is still semi-feral and someone like Rohde looking for a personal pet should adopt instead.

“The cat is happy outside, the cat is healthy outside and the cat is very well protected and has several houses that she goes to,” Crane said.

Sadie Cornelius, the communications chair for the FBA, said community members posted flyers and sent texts and emails alerting one another of Kitty’s absence. She said “a handful of neighbors” care for Kitty, ensuring she is up-to-date on her vaccinations and providing her with food and water.

Cornelius said the longer Kitty Snows is kept in captivity, the more she may lose her “street sense” as an outdoor cat that hunts for her own food.

“She’s not trained to be an indoor cat in a confined environment like that,” Cornelius said. “She’s a stolen property at this point, so we’re trying to get her back.”

Cornelius said FBA members plan to file a police report over Rohde’s alleged theft of Kitty. The group also plans to deliver a letter to the Watergate complex front desk explaining Kitty’s role in the neighborhood, she said.

“We were on a like two-year waitlist to get Kitty, so it’s just really frustrating and makes it extra essential that we get her back,” Cornelius said.

Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Michael Howden said at a Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting Wednesday that he had spoken with neighborhood residents about Kitty’s disappearance. Howden said as of Wednesday there is not a police report on record, and the investigation is somewhat complicated as no individual owns Kitty — she is a gift to the city, from the city.

“That is an ongoing investigation, so to speak,” Howden said. “I’ll use that term lightly, but at any rate, I’ve been working with them.”

Aydan Reimer, a junior who lives in Snows Court near 25th and I streets, said she noticed missing posters for Kitty last week.

“I immediately took a picture of it and circulated it to all of our friends,” Reimer said of the posters. “We completely stopped in our tracks and were devastated, and then we realized that it must have just happened because the signs were not there when we left a few hours prior.”

Reimer said she always saw Kitty in the parking lot close to her house, rolling around and lying in the sun.

“There was one day, I don’t know what was happening, but we were all walking out of the house, and then we all just sat there and pet her for 30 minutes,” Reimer said. “She’s just a little love bug. She loves attention. She loves pets. She likes bumping up against you.”

Junior Cecilia Culver said after moving into the neighborhood in June, she met Kitty and immediately bought treats for her. She said before finding out Kitty’s name, she and her roommates had given her the name “Stubs” because of her bobbed tail.

Culver said her friend bought T-shirts emblazoned with Kitty’s photo for her and Reimer from the FBA website for Christmas.

“I just love cats, and she needs someone to be giving her treats,” Culver said. “Even though we were told by the neighbors not to feed her because there is so much food for her.”

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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