A cat-loving Cobble Hill man whose valiant effort to save a lost feline last year was misinterpreted as the rantings of a crazy person has sued the hospital that medicated him in a way “normally reserved for violent psychiatric patients.”
Chris Muth, aka “the Cat Man,” made headlines in July, 2008, when he got thrown into the psych ward of Long Island College Hospital for six days after his attempt to rescue Rumi, a friend’s feline who had fallen behind a wall in Muth’s Court Street apartment.
Muth’s alleged delusion was indeed real — so over the summer, he bared his claws against LICH, suing the hospital and 11 of its workers for $260,000.
“I could really use the money right now,” Muth said the other day. “My whole family is cash-strapped.”
A spokeswoman for LICH said that the hospital does not comment on ongoing litigation.
The famed saga of the Cat Man began that July. Muth was cat-sitting when he realized the pussy had plunged down a 30-foot shaft and was trapped. That’s when Muth became a man consumed, a man who cared more for felines than his fellow man, he became … the Cat Man.
Bucking the law like any true vigilante, Cat Man barged into an unoccupied apartment in hopes of rescuing the trapped feline — but his derring-do came with a price: Someone called the cops.
Upon arriving, the boys in blue were skeptical of Cat Man’s claims that a mouser was trapped behind the wall. They thought that the frantic man was going through a psychotic episode, and hauled him to LICH.
A medical report compounded what Muth claims was a misdiagnosis, saying that Muth was suffering a “bizarre delusion [that he] was trying to ‘save’ a cat.”
Muth quickly grew tired of awaiting release from the nuthouse, and made a foolhardy attempt to rise up against his captors.
“I said, ‘Give me a pencil and paper; I’m going to write a press release and you are going to be the laughingstock of New York,” Muth said.
Unfortunately, Muth made the demand to the resident nurse on duty — a woman who would become his nemesis. The nurse called over orderlies, who held down Muth while she administered a shot of Haldol, a powerful anti-psychotic drug, court papers allege.
Muth was eventually proven to be sane — regarding the cat at least. Rumi was indeed rescued by an animal control officer after 15 days. But by then, Cat Man had been declawed: His landlord kicked him out, he lost his job, and his girlfriend dumped him — though they are now back together.
Now, Cat Man hears the calling of other quests. In addition to his LICH suit, he is interested in getting his 23-year-old dog posthumously entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, while also suing the animal shelter responsible for what he claims was the murder of his elderly canine companion.
In addition, Muth is preparing litigation involving a valuable family painting by renowned Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
On the red side of the ledger, Muth faces an epic showdown with the IRS, to which Muth says he owes $800,000.
Taking a break from his heroics, Cat Man reflected on his battles in the legal arena.
“How can you stand up for yourself in this culture?” he asked. “You can punch someone and get arrested, or you can sue.”