World's Largest Cat (Gone)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Nineteen feet long... five-hundred pounds... made of fiberglass. It's certainly possible this is not the World's Largest Cat, but it deserves notice if you ever find yourself under the Holland Tunnel viaduct west of the Hudson River and Manhattan.
According to legend, the cat dates from the 1950s, when it was rolled down Broadway in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade [see myth-buster below]. It was on the roof of a Jersey City truck stop beginning in 1965; then relocated "temporarily" to its present site in 1978.
The cat is a brown tabby and, depending on the season visited, may be invisible from the street, shielded by a large locust tree that has overgrown the cat's garage-top perch.
All you can see of the cat from the adjacent rubbish-strewn lot is its face, grinning Cheshire Cat-like -- its eyes round and bulging, a little Christmas stocking cap still perched jauntily on its head -- through the ten-foot-high chain link fence that surrounds the property.
We've had varying luck getting in close to photograph the cat. On our most recent trip, no one was around to ask permission except for a pair of angry guard dogs. The dogs, the fence, and the cat's invisibility are probably responsible for keeping it intact in this apocalyptic part of New Jersey.
April 2006: The big cat is looking increasingly tattered, his right eye going a little wonky.
According to Cliff, who owns Cliff's Clocks, the cat has been here since February 1978. "I remember, because that's when my daughter was born." A friend of his asked if he could "hold on to it for a couple of weeks" while he got his finances in order. The finances never got ordered, the friend moved to another town ("We still keep in touch," says Cliff) and the cat has been here ever since. Cliff claims that the friend, who still technically owns the cat, once had a deal in the works to sell it to Puss 'N Boots, the cat food company, but they backed out of the deal. "It needs a lot of work," Cliff concedes, nodding toward the cat's drooping right eye. "It was never meant to be outdoors."
Cliff claims that reports that the cat was originally a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade are incorrect, and that they prompted at least one angry phone call to him, from an irate former Macy's employee, who insisted that Macy's never would have paraded something as cheesy as a giant cat with a Santa's hat.
Cliff has cut down the locust tree that once overshadowed the cat, making curbside photography once again possible. This is good, as Cliff is retired now, and although he was polite with us, he really doesn't want to be bothered by people asking him about the cat.
December 2007: The cat has disappeared!