The Catsimatidis Family Loves Their Pets

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Photo: Scott Wintrow/Getty Images2007 Getty Images

Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis initially seemed to be the winner of a Monday mayoral forum organized by animal-rights advocates. After claiming that "some people call me the cat man," the Republican candidate told everyone about the time he called the FDNY to track down his daughter's escaped cockatiel, which was returned safe and sound. He then shared an even more harrowing — and less happy — pet tale:

The Catsimatidis family cat — he said after the forum that it was all white and named Cottonball — died while Catsimatidis was working on the computer and his wife was watching television. "My wife gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and rushed him to the hospital to try to keep him alive," Catsimatidis said. “I just want to reflect the respect I have for animals.”

However, he lost the crowd when the discussion turned to Central Park's overburdened carriage horses. His offer to house retired equines at the Central Park Zoo was met with "hoots of derision," and the audience "booed and hissed" when he said he would not abolish horse-drawn carriages, which he feels contribute to the "ambiance" of Central Park. So, that's another thing Catsimatidis and Mayor Bloomberg have in common.