Union City’s stray cats star in book

NY woman talks about catching town’s felines in newly published memoir

Before living in Union City for 10 years, author of “To Catch a Cat” Heather Green lived and worked as a journalist in Manhattan. When visiting her boyfriend Matt Greer in Union City on weekends, she saw a mother cat caring for three kittens in his neighbor’s backyard, and fell in love.

She wanted to help the animals but didn’t know how. She and Greer perched on his roof trying to figure out how to rescue the kittens without the neighbor noticing.

In her new memoir, published by Penguin Random House on July 5, she wrote, “There were tiny beings in that yard that deemed a sense of here and now. I knew there was only a sliver of time before [one of the kittens] would lose the ability to look a human in the face… We either acted now or he and his siblings would become wild, lost for good.”

“The best part is to help animals, and to be part of the rescue committee with such amazing people.” – Heather Green

In a recent interview, Green said, “It’s better for cats to be indoors.” She said taking the cats away from the mother felt like she was breaking up the family, but she learned the benefits of cat rescue.

She added in the interview, “The first time I took kittens in, it devastated me. Later I learned that there’s a tradeoff. Cats die having a lot of kittens, and kittens stay outside [permanently] if they reach a year old with no help from the mom. I felt like I betrayed the mom, but I got over it.”

Compassion becomes community

Her memoir covers the couple’s years of rescuing cats and kittens throughout Union City, Hoboken, Jersey City, and Weehawken. Green’s love for rescuing cats soon grew into a love for Union City. “I felt lucky to have met Matt. New Jersey, where he lived, I wasn’t so sure about,” Green said in the memoir.

In the interview, she said, “In Hudson County, cats are everywhere. When I came to Union City, that was just what you saw.”

The couple lived on Manhattan Avenue, where there was lots of vehicle traffic, Green said. “We saw a lot of cats get hit by cars,” she said. “Matt always picked them up and buried them.”

They met other rescuers who were experts who informed them about other stray cats around.

“As you’re walking the streets you meet amazing people, and I love that,” Green said. “It was an entry way into connecting with Union City. I don’t know how well I would know people in my community without cat rescuing.”

The couple left the area a year ago to move to Virginia to care for Green’s mother. They are also married now with their 7-year-old daughter, Lily.

Compassion enriches companionship

As they grew into rescuing, they also grew closer together. At first, Green thought Greer was too “go-with-the-flow” and not committed enough to saving the cats. But in time they realized that rescuing together made them a stronger couple.

In the memoir, she writes, “It was important to me…so he made it important to him too.”

The book can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Booksamillion.com, Hudsonbooksellers.com, Target, Walmart, and Indiebound.org.

Green will have a book signing on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 12 p.m. in the Word Bookstore on 123 Newark Ave. in Jersey City. The event will also include pet adoptions.

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