SOURCE: Con Edison Co. of NY, Inc.

February 21, 2008 16:32 ET

Meter Reader Fingers Fickle Feline in Subway Tunnel

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - February 21, 2008) - Christopher Cuddy's assignments for Con Edison sometimes place him in the recesses of Manhattan's caverns, reading electric meters in remote emergency exits of subway tunnels.

The two-year veteran occasionally sees four-legged critters scampering underground, but on a recent foray, his keen eye spotted something unusual: a blue collar on a furtive black cat, suggesting a link to a news story he remembered from three weeks earlier; after a visit to a veterinarian, a straphanger's kitten leaped from a pet carrier onto a midtown platform, capping the flight with a jump-down to the tracks and a beeline to oblivion, leaving her owner distraught.

Twenty-six days later, after Cuddy's sighting re-alerted transit workers, a seven-month-old kitten named Georgia was found in the tunnels under midtown Manhattan and reunited with owner Ashley Phillips. Cuddy shared in a three-way $1,500-donated reward as a result, but elected to turn over his share to the ASPCA. "I was just happy she was recovered," Cuddy said.

"It's an especially heartwarming story," said Marilyn Caselli, Con Edison's senior vice president for Customer Operations, "one that underscores the value of careful observance combined with elements of benevolent chance. Nothing in a corporate mission statement covers what Chris set in motion, yet he's made literally thousands of people feel good as a result of what he did."

When the kitten, minus one life of nine, was ultimately recovered by transit workers Mark Dalessio and Efrain LaPorte, she was suffering from a fractured back leg and dehydration, ailments treated by doctors at Fifth Avenue Veterinary Specialists.

"I didn't want to raise false hopes when I first spotted her," said the 26-year-old Cuddy, who splits his time between Bensonhurst in Brooklyn and Albrightsville in Pennsylvania, where the rambling countryside is slightly more hospitable for him and his wife and their golden retriever. "I enjoy the unique nature of my job, knowing that I get to traverse a part of the city that few others see. It wasn't quite as dramatic as sighting an alligator in the sewer system, but I was still quite excited with the prospect of the lost kitten's recovery.

"I got the call on a Saturday night," he said of the good news. "I was speechless, but ecstatic."

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