'Zombie' finds cat in Times Square after 2 years lost, reunited with New York police officer owner

NEW YORK CITY -  

An hour after midnight, on a shivery Sunday in Times Square, Disaster the cat dashed across traffic on 42nd Street and was snatched by a man dressed as a zombie.
 
The Long Island cat, owned by a New York Police Department cop, had been on the lam for two years.
 
"It almost got hit by a car," said Jeremy Zelkowitz, 22, who works the streets as the "Times Square Zombie" to ensnare tourists for the Times Scare haunted house. "I spoke to people who had seen it earlier trying to get into Dallas BBQ and Starbucks and a whole bunch of stores on 42nd.
 
"It was really, really scared. He was, like, looking around at the sirens and stuff."
 
Cradling the black and white cat in his "bloody" apron and shirt, Zelkowitz took a cab Easter morning to BluePearl Veterinary Partners, an emergency hospital on 55th Street.
 
Even though he's the undead, he didn't want the cat killed at a shelter if no one adopted him.
 
"I usually only eat human brains; I'm not fond of any cat brains," the pretend zombie joked.
 
After a microchip scanner revealed Jimmy Helliesen, of Woodmere, N.Y., a 29-year NYPD veteran, was the owner, the feline and his human were reunited Tuesday.
 
"He looked pretty good," Helliesen said. "Eating good at all those restaurants." The cat's only problem was an infected right ear, he said.
 
When he got the cat call, Helliesen thought a precinct buddy was teasing him.
 
"He couldn't believe it and thought we were playing a practical joke on him," said Steve Baker, the BluePearl hospital's administrator.
 
Helliesen, 51, said the cat clawed out a window screen to escape but he had no answer for the big question -- how did the cat cross several counties and bridges and land on Broadway?
 
"The pull of the bright lights and the big city," he figured.
 
The officer rescues cats around his 79th Precinct in Brooklyn and adopts them out, and Disaster, about 5 now, spent his kittyhood there, making himself at home in officers' chairs.
 
"The precinct's motto is 'Flirting with disaster.' That's how he got his name," Helliesen said.
 
Helliesen said he took Disaster home three years ago to adopt him out, but the cat escaped twice by clawing out window screens -- the second time starting his two-year adventure. He is up for adoption again along with three other cats, Tom, Dick and Harry, born outside the precinct.
 
Disaster's favorite spot was the radiator by the window, the officer recalled, and now he is looking at the world from the enclosed porch: "He likes looking out the windows. Maybe he's planning his next escape."
 
(Reach reporter Ellen Yan at ellen.yan@newsday.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com)
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