Before the Internet allowed anyone to stare at cat videos all day, people had to indulge in their cat obsession the old fashion way bye interacting with cats in person. Fortunately, much of their interaction with cats has been documented by photographers, which has been documented by Peggy Gavan in a new book, The Cat Men of Gotham: Tales of Feline Friendships in Old New York.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard, then America’s premier naval shipbuilder, was reeling from rat infestations in the late 1800s, which damaged expensive docks and equipment. When dogs failed to remove the rats, a group of “land-lubber” felines wandered onto the yard in 1893 and finally brought the rat population under control within a few years. 

To learn more about how men embraced cats before the dawn of the Internet, click here.