I first read this when it was published in 1963, or perhaps the year after when it won the Newbery Medal. I liked animal stories, and stories about New York City, and this covered both.
Dave Mitchell is fourteen and lives with his parents in Manhattan near Gramercy Park. His father is a lawyer, but they aren’t wealthy, and seem very middle class. Dave is always fighting with his dad, causing his mother to have asthma attacks, so when that happens, he goes out on the street, spending time with his school friend Nick, or an older woman, Kate, who keeps a number of cats in her apartment, considering them her family. Dave is taken with a young tom cat at Kate’s and agrees to take him home, even though his parents might not like it. He keeps Cat (as he names him) in his room when not outside, and while his father is against it, he doesn’t forbid it. Some of the book is about Dave and Cat, some is about Dave’s adventures in the city, like going to the Fulton Fish Market, and to Coney Island with Nick, where they meet some girls. Dave isn’t thrilled about that, but one of the girls, Mary, seems nice, and they meet again other times. Meanwhile, Dave tries to bring Cat on the family’s summer vacation, and he escapes from the car on the Long Island Expressway in a traffic jam. Despite his father’s scornful laughter, Dave jumps out too, and he and Cat make their way home. Then Cat is getting into fights, and has to be treated at the vet, who tells Dave the best way to keep Cat alive is to have him neutered. Dave isn’t sure he wants to do that.
This was just as interesting and fun to read as I remembered, a fine book, and worthy of the Newbery. Recommended.