G. Herman Gottlieb got a bright idea in 1909. He went to the woods in Manhattan (there were apparently still woods in Manhattan then) and picked two large baskets of catnip. He then went door-to-door on Fifth Avenue to sell catnip to wealthy cat owners. Gottlieb did not consider the many New York street cats that picked up on the scent of freshly-picked catnip. Before too long, there were 30 or 40 cats following him.
When Mr. Gottlieb saw Police Sergeant John F. Higgins on 114th Street, he cried out with joy. At last, he thought, someone could help him disperse the band of felines. Sergeant Higgins wasn’t so kind though, and he immediately arrested the catnip peddler for causing a crowd to collect, which was against the law.
“Why don’t you arrest the catnip?” Gottlieb asked. “That is collecting the crowd. Not I.”
“Come on, before the cats from the Bronx and Jersey get here,” Higgins said, leading Gottlieb to the station house on East 104th Street. Several cats followed the men to the station house and made themselves at home inside while Sergeant Higgins reported the arrest to Lieutenant Lasky.
An argument ensued between Lasky and Higgins on whether the law against collecting a crowd was limited to a human crowd or could be applicable to cats. Meanwhile, the station cat defended his territory against the "crowd" that followed Gottlieb into the police station. The incident made the papers up and down the eastern seaboard. Read the tale of the catnip caper at The Hatching Cat. -via Strange Company