Making way for another glass tower, Interstate Foods, one of the largest meatpacking plants in the Meatpacking District, has been closed for some time now. It seems its roommate, Atlas Meats, is gone, too. The once-busy building has been quiet for weeks. The metal hooks that once hung so evocatively from the rusty canopy are gone. No meat deliveries come here anymore. The sidewalk, once slippery with a white film of fat, is bare.
But at least two denizens of the meatpacking plant remain.
From an open cellar door, a pair of recently unemployed tabbies sun themselves on a warm day in May. A concerned friend has left cans of cat food open on the top cellar step. But the cats don't bother with this fake stuff. They know real meat. They know scraps of prime beef and chicken. They know the thrill of hunting for live prey.
They are a bit battered, rough around the edges. Kind of greasy. Not the sort of cats a woman walking by in couture would stoop to stroke behind the ears. But one man comes by. Dressed in dirty coveralls with his name stitched on the pocket, blue tattoos on his arms, and an eye that looks like it has seen better days--he's a little rough around the edges, too.
He crouches down and puts out a hand. One of the cats ignores him, too lazy in the sun, but the other begins meowing, almost a complaint, as if to say, Get away. Undeterred, the man makes a soft, reassuring sound. The cat approaches, rubs against the man's red knuckles. They stay this way for a few minutes, the cat circling the man, letting him pet her head, retreating and returning.
When the man has had his fill of cat-love, he gets up to go. Seeing me watching, he explains, "I just love cats." The tabby follows him for a few steps, then retreats to her spot in the shade.
Without the meatpacking plant and its vermin to be hunted, where will these cats go? Maybe the Von Furstenberg store next door will take them.