The claws are out!
GOP mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa’s first campaign ad hits the small screen Monday — but it’s his rescue cat named Tuna that steals the show.
The 12-year-old feline — lounging on Sliwa’s lap in the 30-second spot — is one of 17 rescue cats he and wife Nancy care for in their 300-foot Upper West Side apartment.
“As a young man, working at a McDonald’s in the Bronx, I learned to ask, ‘How can I serve you?’” Sliwa opens the ad as he gently strokes Tuna. “I’ve dedicated my life to keeping us safe, helping the homeless and saving our animals.”
He goes on to pitch himself as the candidate of “compassionate solutions.”
The campaign, which has received $2.6 million in public financing, is starting with a $500,000 two-week ad buy, Sliwa said.
The first-time mayoral candidate — who made his name as the street-smart tough guy behind the Guardian Angels — wants New York City voters to know he has a softer side.
“I think the key is, everyone knows I’m a crime fighter. People have grown up with me for 42 years. That’s a given,” Sliwa told The Post Sunday. “The thing that is important it be conveyed is the compassion that I have projected to the people and the animals who are ignored, just totally ignored.”
“It takes people by surprise, because, you know, he’s one tough guy — but on the other hand, he’s one of the most compassionate guys in the street.”
Sliwa said he opted to have Tuna make an appearance because she “exudes friendship, exudes love.”
“We did a video of just me alone. It was that typical Curtis Sliwa hard rock,” he explained. “Then, I did the video with Tuna, and it was like an almost natural form of Prozac for me.
“I’m the biggest soft guy in the world when it comes to cats, the emotionally disturbed, the homeless. And yet, if you’re a thug or a ‘thugette’ and you’re giving somebody a hard time — one glare of Curtis Sliwa and they melt. I’m able to go through the transition.”
The sickly cat came to the Sliwa household about six weeks ago “in real bad shape,” he said, with “neurological damage” that still makes it hard for her to walk. His wife Nancy found her on a “kill list.”
“She said to me, ‘I know we’re overloaded with cats in the apartment, but if we don’t rescue Tuna, she’s gonna be euthanized,” Sliwa recalled. “Nancy, to her credit, spent about a good 16 hours a day just solely nursing Tuna — and now the film is cleared from her eyes. She’s able to move on her own.”
He added, “The people always want the healthy ones, so Nancy ends up caring for those nobody wants.”
The cat is the second most recent addition to the Sliwas’ litter of rescue cats, he said — the newest is a four-week-old who was also scheduled to be euthanized.
Sliwa hopes to end the city’s practice of euthanizing dogs and cats if his long-shot bid for mayor succeeds.
“Millions of our dollars are used to euthanize our family members, our furry little friends,” he said. “It is key. The way a society treats its animals is indicative of the way it treats its people.”