HELL'S KITCHEN — A cat that went missing from its West 50th Street home for nearly a month was rescued with the help of a team of dedicated neighbors — including one who climbed out onto construction scaffolding to save him.
Pazzo the cat disappeared from his apartment between Ninth and 10th avenues in mid-June, prompting his owner, Gwen Arment, to blanket the neighborhood with “lost cat fliers” asking locals to notify her if they spotted him.
Then, on July 3, Arment — who was out of town at the time — got an urgent call from a neighbor on West 51st Street.
“He said, ‘I think your cat may be looking in my window,’” Arment recalled.
The neighbor raised a ladder on the front stoop of the building in a bid to reach Pazzo where he was sitting atop construction scaffolding, but wasn’t able to.
That's when Kathryn Cusumano joined the rescue mission.
“I was home, and I heard someone calling for Pazzo,” Cusumano said.
“I climbed up the fire escape, and I just kind of Spider-Man-scaled the scaffolding, which I shouldn’t have done — it was very dangerous,” Cusumano said.
Several neighbors, as well as two men who’d been driving past the building and noticed the commotion, watched to ensure she wouldn't fall while she climbed.
Pazzo — who seemed eager to put an end to his weeks of wandering — gave Cusumano no trouble when she scooped him into a cat carrier, she said.
“I was so relieved, because every time I would see those signs that said, ‘lost kitty,’ [my] heart would just break,” Cusumano said.
Arment, who has lived in her building since 1982, hopped in her car and drove back to New York from Connecticut as soon as she heard the news.
“I was jumping up and down and screaming and crying,” Arment said. “It’s amazing how attached you get to these furry little things.”
She suspects Pazzo, who often patrols her backyard when he’s not indoors, may have slipped away through the adjacent gardens and backyards, a few of which are undergoing renovations.
“I guess he went exploring and was a little too curious,” Arment said.
The weekslong search for Pazzo was a neighborhood-wide effort.
“Everybody was looking for him,” said Arment, who got Pazzo five years ago. “Even the business owners [said they were] were very concerned and were keeping an eye out.
“It was very heartening to see how the community responded,” she added.
Her “lost cat” signs also led to a happy ending for another neighborhood feline.
While Pazzo was still missing, Arment got a call from a woman who thought she spotted the cat in a neighborhood parking lot.
Though it turned out to be a stray — ”a really sweet, dirty, hungry cat that needed feeding,” Arment said — she and her husband took him home anyway.
A Manhattan Plaza resident ultimately adopted the cat, named Romeo, not long after Arment and her husband cleaned him up and brought him to the vet for his shots, she said.
As for Pazzo, he is “happy and grateful” to be home after his time away, Arment said.
“I’m just so incredibly grateful to the people who stepped up to the plate,” she said.
“The name Pazzo, by the way, means ‘crazy’ in Italian, so he lived up to his name.”