for shopcats who can't be on the site, but have wonderful stories to tell.
From Beatrix Potter's Journal: "Tuesday,
January 7, 1896: The sweetest spectacle I have lately seen, the Store's cat,
its paws folded under its white chest, its ears and white whiskers laid back,
ignoring the roar of the Haymarket, in a new red morocco collar, couchant
in a pile of biscuit canisters."
This story can also be found in Martin Leman's Painted Cats.
Snuggling shopcat: I wanted to let you know about a shopcat that preserved my sanity. There is a restaurant in New York City known as the Belle Epoque. I am a theatrical stage manager, and did a show once that was staged there at the restaurant. As often happens in the theater, the rehearsal process was, shall we say, challenging.
But at the time, the Belle Epoque had an orange-and-white cat living there. I never got his name, but he was very friendly, and always seemed to wander out right when I was a little intimidated and in need of some companionship during rehearsals. Better still -- my own cat doesn't like to be picked up and held much at all. But the Belle Epoque cat? Anytime I picked him up, he nestled right in against my shoulder and neck, and I'm convinced he made himself a perfect fit to more effectively snuggle. If I was having a bad day, I'd find the cat and pick him up, he'd curl right up against my neck, and I'd carry him around for a while until I felt better. He rarely tried to get down first, and usually just patiently waited until I put him down myself.
Somedays, WOW did I need that.
Even better, he watched a rehearsal. We were doing a music revue, and one song was a rather dramatic solo performed by one of the men. The restaurant had a big main floor, and a balcony around the side walls. This song in particular was staged with the singer starting on the balcony, then making his way down the stairs to the main floor and then moving into the crowd. It was a very dramatic, gothic-sort of number.
Anyway -- during one rehearsal, the rest of us were sitting where the audience would be sitting, looking up at the balcony watching him. And just as he was about to begin singing -- the cat wandered out toward us and calmly took a seat right smack in front of us, and looked up at the singer -- and watched the whole thing from "the front row."
We all noticed a minute or two into it, and started nudging each other and pointing at the cat. The singer noticed too, and for his grand finale, he knelt and sang directly to the cat -- who finally had a bit too much, shrank back slightly and then ran into the kitchen.
I never got this little guy's name, but he provided some "fur therapy" when I needed it...
submitted by Kimberly Wadsworth, NYC
Avery: This tale takes place in Casper, Wyoming, at Anderson Highway Sign & Supply. The shop guys found and adopted a stray in our back lot, and promptly named her Avery. After lots of meals and loving attention, the shop became her home. Avery is very curious by nature, and loves to explore various places in the shop. One day one of the managers was sitting calmy at his desk on the phone in the office, chatting away. Avery, unbeknowst to anyone, had found a way to get into the ceiling. She was walking above everyone's heads, probably chasing mice, when the ceiling gave way and a very startled cat broke through into the lap of the manager at his desk! Needless to say, after all the dust settled and Avery and the manager calmed down, we all had a very good laugh at their expense! Avery calmly cleaned herself up, and still denies anything ever happened.
submitted by Dawn Anderson
Maffra: I have recently lost my dear friend
Maffra, a 13 year old fluffy, non-pedigreed, black and white puss. He had
been a house cat most of his life, but was born in a Karate Dojo, in a country
town in Australia, so perhaps that could qualify him for 'shopcat' ? Spending
his kittenhood surrounded by shouting, stamping warriors had a long-term effect
on his nervous system, leaving him liable to leap whenever he was startled.
He was a very active cat and would walk for miles with the children and me.
He would also 'follow the bike' when I rode to the local corner-shop, delighting
the neighbors and visitors. His biggest adventure was while still a kitten,
when one chilly spring day he climbed into the car engine for warmth and was
carried a mile or so to the local school. As I stopped to park, I saw a black
and white kitten scoot onto the footpath, fluffed up and wide-eyed. It took
me some moments to realize that he was my own kit. He had lost his eyebrows
and whiskers from one side of his face and was very frightened but otherwise
Submitted by Annabel Blakey
Stanley: When Stanley first came to us he was anything but serene and meditative. It began as a phone call some six years ago from a desperate sounding woman pleading us to send out an envoy to rescue the feral cat that was screaming feline obscenities after falling down her chimney. Our clinic representative returned from her mission with a cardboard box whose integrity was acutely threatened from a very angry vocal presence within. Upon carefully opening the box all that could be seen was an extremely wide pair of yellow dilated eyes, ten very sharp extended claws, and a shadow covered with soot. Our time of focused vision was limited however, for in less than a jif, the Entity had exited the box and made a beeline toward the entrance to the attic of the clinic. That was the last we saw of our phantom entity for three weeks. His presence was proved daily by the disappearance of food we left on the attic steps. After the phantom's initial leave, he began to show himself through a small crack in the attic door a few times during daylight hours. Finally, our opportunity had arrived and it was time to show our new arrival that human contact was not necessarily an evil thing. I avoided this stage of orientation fearful that my 6 ft. 4 in. frame would catapult him back into primitive behavior. It was decided that the female members of our staff would except that challenge at hand. Slowly but surely over a month period of patient reassurance, our feline ward was comfortable enough with the surroundings to be picked up and medically examined. It was only then that we discovered that his tail and left front leg were fractured from his chimney fall. I feel a little guilty for not catching this earlier but considering his willingness to turn a friendly hand into hamburger out of pure fear, I believe we were lucky to get at it as early as we did. The next assignment was to give our new project a name. After many suggestions from everyone, we all agreed on "Stanley" just because it sounded and felt right.
We now had arrived at the deep end of the swimming pool and it was time to sink or swim. Stanley was gently placed in an anesthetic box and the gas was turned on. Within five minutes he was sleeping peacefully and we proceeded to neuter him, bathe him, draw blood, examine his fractures (which incidentally had already started to heal acceptably without our assistance), vaccinate him, check him for parasites, clean his ears, trim his nails, and anything else we could think of while the advantage was ours. This was all done with as much efficiency and prowess as we could muster in order to keep the anesthetic time at a minimum.
Stanley woke up rather dazed but otherwise unfurled. As the months wore on, Stanley's self-confidence and composure improved in noticeable increments. In time, he was regularly making visits to the front reception desk during working hours at the clinic to quietly sit with Lin (our receptionist) and invite pets and strokes of adoration from incoming clients.
Stanley's most impressive talent was discovered totally by accident. Lin, finding herself in a rare moment of inactivity at the clinic, took a small piece of note paper and folded it into a small soldiers hat like the kind we all use to make in elementary school. Observing Stanley in his usual state of meditative serenity, Lin gently placed the hat on his head. For the next ten minutes Stanley did not move and the hat stood in its place for all to see; the perfection of feline content humbled by a paper soldier's hat. "How far can we take this?" This was the question of the day. Undaunted, our mission continued to the local K Mart to look for more unique styles of headwear in the doll section. We found a beanie, a fedora, a top hat, a Derby and a baseball cap. Stanley posed perfectly with each hat and left us with a very memorable day.
Stanley at present joins 3 other unique felines as a fully
certified squad of Bluegrass Animal Clinic Shopcats. He is well known by all
the clients, and although still somewhat shy with crowds and loud noises,
will cater to any kind soul who is willing to offer a soft hand and a gentle
sent in by G.W. Gregg
Copy Cat: "Mama Kitty" was the clinic mascot for the Oakridge Animal Clinic in London Ontario which I worked at for 3 years as a vet assistant. She had been adopted by the vet after someone abandoned her, and took her job as "clinic cat" seriously. She saw it as her duty to protect and defend all other members of the feline species who were staying at the clinic for any reason. She was christened Mama Kitty after a particularly brave incident, when she defended a poor cat from the terrible water monster. Every cat and dog, upon admission for boarding, was treated with a flea bath to prevent infestation of the clinic. None of the cats liked this at all, and some protested quite loudly. They had nothing to fear with Mama Kitty around, however. If she heard a kitty in trouble (having a bath) she would come running, and attack the stream of water where it emerged from the hose. She would fight with it valiantly until the end of the bath.
One day, I was carrying some files up to the secretaries in
the reception area. Mama Kitty, who was sleeping on top of the nice, warm
photocopier, stood up to beg for attention. I walked past her to put the files
on a table, and as I passed, she stepped towards me - and, right onto the
"Copy" button! Poor Mama Kitty was startled and leapt off of the
beast which came to life, but not in time to avoid taking an embarrassing
photocopy of her butt!
sent in by Tina N.
In Remembrance: Laverne, lovely calico lady,
was a private citizen, barn cat who was promoted to house cat until she ate
a large helping of her owner's freshly frosted German Chocolate cake. She
was banished to their Tack Store. She was quite the celebrity and could differentiate
the cheap sweaters from the $300 ones before she even slept/shed/drooled on
them. Several years later, when the shop closed, I adopted her. She spent
her retirement years with me until slipping into the Big Catnip field in Kitty
Heaven at 16.
Sent in by Priscilla Warnock
Gospel Critic: We are from Knoxville, Tenn and
we have a southern gospel singing group. We have two Himalayans and one of
them is a music cat. Sammi will pace back and forth across my lap if she doesn't
like the song period! If she does she will purr up a storm! If I put a soundtrack
in to try a lead on it, she can be sound asleep and comes running.
Sent in by Judy Carr
Filipino Shopcat: I was in Manila, Philippines for a week in September 2002. We were driving to Antipolo for the day. On the way on Ortigas Ave. Extension (Between #98 and LA Samson Billards--just so I can remember where it was) was a little laundry. Inside the doorway was a little black and white cat wearing a collar. This was remarkable to me, because the people in the Philippines generally keep animals outdoors, and you don't see any animals in stores. I wasn't able to stop and get his picture, but hopefully I will see him next time I go.
Airline Cat: Back in the 50s I was a mechanic
for Delta airlines. We had a hanger cat with a 5 year pin on his collar. Each
time an inspection panel or plate was removed for work or inspection an item
was added to the work list as follows. " Find or locate cat before closing
panel." The cat would many times get inside the wings or any other open
panel. One night he was in the open cargo bin and was shipped to Chicago from
Miami. We sent a message to Chicago and they met the cat upon arrival and
sent him home first class on the next flight. He was made an Inspector when
he got home.
Sent in by Sam and BJ Anderson
Don't forget to send in your stories as well!