Did Minnie of McSorley’s Have a Mean Streak?
There are some bars that become more than just community hangouts. They are places where everyone knows your name, where stories are shared, and where legends are born. One such place exists in New York City. It’s called McSorley’s Old Ale House, and it’s one of the oldest bars in Manhattan. It originally opened in 1854. The poet e.e. Cummings wrote “Sitting in McSorley’s” there, which makes sense given the title. Other famous visitors include Babe Ruth and Harry Houdini. The place even survived prohibition.
There’s another interesting fact about the pub. It’s always been a home to at least one cat. In 1928, artist John Sloan even painted his piece “McSorley’s Cats” because of the feline residents. However, it seems that in 2009, one woman had a bad encounter with a resident cat named Minnie.
Attack of the Kitty
Cheryl Sibley says that she was in the bar in October of 2009 when the resident cat attacked her, and she had to be hospitalized. Because of the attack, she filed a case with the Manhattan Supreme Court. However, the suit didn’t make clear exactly how severe the attack was, only that Sibley claims there were serious injuries caused by a live animal.
The owner of the bar, Matthew Maher, was surprised to hear about the attack, since Minnie the Second, the bar’s cat, was peaceful. He also said that he didn’t know anything about the attack and if he had, he would have done something. Additionally, he says that he didn’t allow the cat to be on the floors during drinking hours. To do so would have violated city law.
However, the bar has gotten in trouble for the cat before. A health inspector had found her walking on the bar. Maher said that he puts the cat in another part of the building when the establishment is open.
Still, there does seem to have been some type of attack, and Sibley and the bar eventually settled the case. What could have caused the attack? Given that it’s a cat, it could’ve been any number of things. Also, given that it’s a person, it could’ve been any number of things that the person might have done to upset the cat, perhaps even without realizing it. Cats are great, but they have some odd personalities sometimes.
Additionally, Minnie the Second was a relatively new resident. A year before, the original Minnie died. Another one of the cats, names Stinky of all things, died, as well, a short time after. Maher says that he wasn’t sure when Minnie the Second showed up at the place. Since she may have been a stray out on her own before coming to the bar, there’s a chance that she may not have been quite as peaceful as he had claimed. At least not with everyone.
Minnie Was No Moocher
After Minnie was no longer allowed to be at McSorley’s, the cat’s natural enemies started to show up. In 2016, the health department went into the bar and had to close it due to violations, including conditions that appeared to be rat activity. Since Minnie wasn’t around to get rid of the rats, they decided to move in on her old territory. Given the fact that NYC has the third-largest rat population in the country behind Chicago and Los Angeles, it’s not surprising.
Maybe Minnie’s presence in the bar was what stopped the rats from coming in before. Fortunately, the alehouse was able to take care of the problem and is still operating today.