UPPER EAST SIDE — Carlow the cat is back at an Upper East Side firehouse after a two-day disappearance that left firemen frantically carrying out a search and rescue operation for their beloved pet.
The 5-month-old orange and white striped tabby was returned to Engine 22 Ladder 13 by a good samaritan who saw a poster the firefighters and members of a cat rescue group had posted around the neighborhood.
The cat, who is named after a nearby bar frequented by the firefighters, was returned shortly before 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, members of the FDNY confirmed.
He had been missing since late Saturday night, when it's suspected that he left the firehouse as firefighters were answering an emergency call.
"A woman from around the block stopped in and said she saw a flyer and had our cat. Then she dropped him off to us after we convinced her to," firefighter David Guilford told DNAinfo via email.
"I'm so glad he's back."
The woman had found the cat in a box outside of a nearby Duane Reade, another firefighter told DNAinfo. She took the cat home until she realized who he belonged to, and then returned him to the firehouse.
Firefighter Joe Goulden says that the cat probably didn't mind being in the box, and that's why he didn't jump out before his rescuer picked him up.
"He's pretty content once he gets in something warm," Goulden said.
The tough firemen who works at the firehouse on East 85th Street between Third and Lexington have a soft spot for the fuzzy, cuddly kitten, which the crew found while out doing a run up to East Harlem about four months ago.
Barbara Langlois, a volunteer with Anjellicle Cats Rescue, was also thrilled that the cat was returned. She was helping the firefighters help find their kitty because she had developed a special relationship to him after meeting him at Petco, where the firefighters first brought the cat after his rescue.
Langlois had even organized a search party to look for the cat, but cancelled it Tuesday night when she heard news that the cat had been found. She immediately ran to go see for herself that the cat was safe.
"I saw him here, he is gorgeous," Langlois confirmed via email. "Someone saved him, he is safe at the firehouse.
"When I got the phone call I started yelling, I was so excited. I just hope more people are encouraged to return cats."
When Carlow was first rescued by the firefighters four months ago, the kitty was stuck in a tire rim and was very dirty, scared and hungry, according to the Anjellicle Cats Rescue and a video showing the firefighters with Carlow at Petco shortly after they rescued him.
In the video, the firefighters can be seen bonding with their new pet.
"This is Carlow the cat," one of the firefighters said, while holding him and trying to figure out how to take care of him. "Is he peeing right now? I think he is, a little bit."
The firefighters had brought the kitty to Petco because they were trying to figure out what to do with him. Anjellicle Cats Rescue has a station inside the store to give animals like Carlow their necessary boosters and vaccinations.
The firefighters, who are known to even come in on their days off to visit Carlow, were terrified that their cat could have had an accident when he first disappeared.
"At first we were worried that we had run over him," said David Santiago, a firefighter who works in the station.
"This is not a normal environment for a cat," he added.
Carlow isn't the first cat to be the object of this firehouse's affection.
Another pet, Murray, called the station home from 1991 until 2005, when he died of natural causes. Murray even has a little plaque devoted to him outside of the firehouse, under the pictures and names of fallen firefighters.
Santiago says the station used to have a dog, but the firefighters decided to switch to cats when they realized that dogs didn't always get along with the public.
"We were afraid someone would get bitten," he said. "Anyway, we started getting rats again, so we decided to adopt another cat."
Regardless of why the firefighters decided to adopt the kitty, Langlois and other volunteers were more than happy to help the gang get their little kitty back safe and sound.
"Everyone loves firemen and everyone loves kittens," she said.