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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v14n09)
Right in my Own Backyard - In Praise of Working Cats - by Brandt Carter
posted: Apr. 28, 2017

Right in my Own Backyard header

We have been lucky to have two wonderful cats in our business. If you have been to Backyard Birds, you have met Miss Birdie. I hope some of you do remember Miss B. Ripple.
Our first store catOur first store cat, Miss. B., was quite a looker. We adopted her from Animal Control to be a working cat in our birdseed/birdfeeder store. The tiny white and gold kitten began her long career mousing, meeting customers and sleeping on the counter in a ray of afternoon sun. Over the years her favorite perch was on a five pound bag of peanuts in the shell. She was also known for her whimsical haircuts every summer. Her body would be shaved but she retained her fluffy head, mane and legs. I always thought this diva looked like a go-go dancer because of her groom. She was quite the conversation piece when folks saw her in the window at night. Whether she acknowledged them or just slept, window shoppers hesitated a bit longer just to watch her. She was a great ambassador of good will. But as the store turned a calendar year, so did she. Ripple (for she answered to Miss B., Ripple, or Miss B. Ripple) became ill, diagnosed with cancer, and passed several years ago.

Miss Birdie
Miss Birdie
image courtesy of Brandt Carter

Dilemma: the store was too quiet without the cat. The customers asked about her every day. Treats went unused. . . no cat. Webster, the store dog, even missed her and would look for her when he arrived. The cat dish sat empty and her pillow on the counter was put away. But this lasted only a month. I went on a search for an able replacement although I knew she could not be replaced. I found a perfect, young cat that would look just right on our counter.
The young, long-haired calico cat was a bit undone on the day I adopted her. A heavy door had accidentally slammed on her tail and she was growly and aloof. The woman at the rescue group assured me this cat didn't act like this usually and she would be just perfect. Well she was right. Miss Birdie is now our second store cat. She guards the shop at night. It is like Miss B passed on the job with the training completed before Miss Birdie came. She sleeps on the counter on her pillow. Because of her new job, she eats a bit too much. She is on a diet, so no treats! It is amazing how a cat can add to the ambiance of a store.
There are several stores that have cats in the Broad Ripple area. For you who love cats and want a cat fix, I hope you visit these stores often. Also, if you want a cat, adopt a rescue. They are wonderful, and they can give you hours of enjoyment, entertainment, and companionship.
Come visit Miss Birdie when you can. She reminds me of these sayings I have collected:
"Even overweight, cats instinctively know the cardinal rule: when fat, arrange yourself in slim poses." - John Weitz
"Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose." - Garrison Keillor
"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this." - Anonymous
"Dogs have owners, cats have staff." - Unknown
"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." - Robert A. Heinlein

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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