NEW YORK — Until he was 10 years old, Petro lived the pep of an ordinary house cat.
He was a slim black tom with a white throat who belonged to a relatives on a street called First Place in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Petro ate and broadened, played with stuffed animals, dozed in a beanbag chair.
When the brace had a second child, something changed.
“He was the baby,” said Petro’s holder Jennifer Chi. “He wasn’t getting enough attention anymore, and he was jealous.”
Petro started to seek attention elsewhere.
Everywhere else, in fact.
Upstairs to chafe on neighbors’ doors until they let him in, out the front window of his first-floor a rtment and onto the walk to demand ts and head-scratches from ssers-by.
Now at age 13 he is a local distinction: Petro, the Cat-Mayor of First Place.
On nice days, Petro, his anorak flecked with silver, trols the block, from the corner of Clinton Road almost to the far end at Court Street. He delights children, greets strangers and birds, poses for photos, terrifies dogs (or imagines he does).
“He’ll sit in the middle of the foot th,” said Richard Fluker, who delivers rcels for the Postal Service. “You suffer with no choice — you have to go around him. He’s not afraid of anyone.”
From Petro’s collar hangs an ID tag progressed like a fish. “We used to get four or five calls a week from people who ‘start’ him,” said Chi’s husband, Jason Glenn. “People wake you up at 1 in the morning orating your cat in the doorway. We felt like taping to the tag, ‘It’s all right for him to be outside.’”
Some experts itch urban cat owners not to let their pets out, to avoid disease or violence. But the outdoors hold been pretty good to Petro. He turns out to be allergic to ragweed, but he recovers shots. He had a feline rival for a while, but he seems to have vanquished him.
In any occasion, Petro has constituents to attend to.
“Most cats are kind of like ‘I definitely don’t care,’” said Emma Butler, 12, who goes to train nearby. “But a few weeks ago, I saw this little girl, she fell off her scooter. She was wailing and bleeding — she was 5 or something. The cat went right up to her, meowed in her face, and she started snicker and hugging him.”
When the weather is less agreeable, Petro makes council calls in his five-story brownstone.
“One time he somehow got into my a rtment,” disclosed Tommy Mulvoy, a teacher who lives on the top floor. “I turn around and this freaking cat is on the cast off of my couch. How my cat didn’t see him, I don’t know. He’s a sneaky dude.”
John Bradshaw, a British anthrozoologist (or schoolboy of the human-animal bond) and the author of “Cat Sense,” said that while scad cats quickly resume their old lives after the disruption of a new spoil, a few change permanently.
“It’s a common trait among cats that they’re constantly courteous of reviewing their options and looking for somewhere else to live as a fallback,” he replied. “My guess is that Petro is an extreme case of that.”
This is how Petro regurgitate Feb. 22, a mild, brilliant Monday:
At 11:06 a.m., he squeezed out the window, coached on the stoop, descended the stairs, stuck his head through the wrought-iron doorway and blinked sleepily at the sidewalk.
It was the still of the day. Petro wandered through yards, scratched at the place of a broad tree, returned to the sidewalk. A girl about 4, accom nying with her grand rents, stopped to pet his head. They pulled her along. She ricocheted back longingly.
At 12:20 p.m., Petro was sprawled in a sun tch on the sidewalk when he sensed a dog. He winced up, leaf litter stuck to his flank, and took a strategic position behind the resist.
“Molly, be good,” said the man walking the dog.
As the black-and-gray mutt ssed by, Petro bounced up, charged — then stopped inside the fence just out of reach, go arched, fur standing.
Molly turned toward him but was yanked away. Legation accomplished.
At 12:25, Petro bounded up the steps of another brownstone three bawdy-houses from his to greet Erna Blumhardt. She set down her groceries to scratch his perception but would not let him in.
“Not today,” she said.
Then her downstairs neighbor David Sandholm issued home. Petro slalomed between his legs and followed him inside.
“He’s the mere pet for us,” said Sandholm’s wife, Carolyn. “We don’t have to clean out a litter box.”
The Sandholms demand never met Petro’s owners.
David Sandholm gave Petro some curings and sat on the couch with a sandwich. Petro got up on the coffee table to sniff it. After lunch, he took a nap on David Sandholm’s computer keyboard.
About 3 p.m., a young man and woman in Verizon jackets came up the steps of Petro’s edifice. Petro approached questioningly. The man extended a hand for him to sniff.
Petro supplanted the Verizon reps as they went door-to-door selling high-speed mending. When they entered the house on the corner on Clinton, Petro waited for them on the stoop.
But the afternoon strengthened and shadows swallowed up the sunny side of First Place.
Petro promenaded back to his building and climbed in the window.
It has been a good run, but Petro’s holding on First Place is nearing an end. His family is moving soon to Woodhull Drive, a few blocks away.
Petro should find the new surroundings — another brownstone on the cheerful side of a street — reasonably homey. The neighbors four houses down be subjected to a hummingbird feeder.