Story by Roger Moore
While making a summertime purchase – a Honda Scooter – discussions with the salesmen revolved around all things summer, including baseball, high school football, tennis, and the heat, when, without introduction, an old beat-up cat strolled into the office. I immediately thought of my old Morris and his rabble-rousing days back on Hester Street in the early 1970s. This “shop cat” at Honda of Stillwater, found a few friendly folks to allow him some air-conditioned recovery space. He roamed the neighborhood for a few days, had a battle or two, then returned to a safe place to chill. Of course, cats will be cats and they do not always cooperate when it comes to relieving themselves in the pre-determined place. So, access is a fluid thing for a few.
Access has not been a problem at the longstanding Cooper’s Cycle Center, 220 South Main in Stillwater. Due, mainly, to Mary Cash’s love of cats.
Anyone shopping for a top-of-the-line bicycle for the last century knows of Cooper’s. Over the last 20 years the old shop has been home to Butterscotch, who hit the jackpot a long time ago. Without much thought for Butterscotch’s future, the tabby was left at the corner of Sixth and Main as a kitten. Brought to Cooper’s, 20 years later she still resides amongst the bicycles. Twice, she has been given to college students and twice she has returned to the shop. Some 10 years ago, Butterscotch was joined by Patrick Henry, now 12- to 14-years old with a shiny gray coat. Patrick Henry cannot be caged; he must be free – the naming of our pets is another story for another day. You have to wonder how much those two cats actually know about the latest bicycles; more than the average cat most likely.
Just up the road a trifecta of cats brings daily attention to The Beadery, 718 South Main. They have probably heard a yarn or two through the walls of Finnegan’s Pub and Louie’s Restaurant, as Oprah, Buffy, and Gigi live full-time at the business. Very few downtown patrons walk by the windows of the Beadery and don’t make mention of a cat or two lounging. It’s always, “hey, look at the kitty cats. Do they live here?”
On a hot summer day in July, Oprah was napping in the window, Buffy was doing the same, and GiGi was not quite sure what she was doing. But as any visitor soon finds out, GiGi wants to be rubbed for a significant amount of time. And when one gets attention the other two soon circle in search of similar rubs and affection.
Talk about a jackpot. Three cats from the same litter had a life in a barn in front of them. But the family dog did not like sharing that barn with three cats. A mix of Siamese and a black-and-white, the trio were brought downtown for safe keeping and never left. In 2017, Oprah, Buffy, and Gigi turned 10 and do not look to be slowing down anytime soon.
When you walk into an establishment and see a cat it is impossible not to think of a cat or two in your family’s past. It can bring about sad memories or a laugh. But, more times than not, it brings a smile and that childish voice we all use when rubbing a belly, scratching a back, as we try to communicate with a feline.
The same can be said for dogs. There is always going to be that urge to pat a dog on the head, give it a rub, and talk in our “dog voice” to let them know we are a friend. That’s what pets are, right? Someone to hang out with during the “Dog Days of Summer?”
Editor’s Note: Several other spaces around town have “public” cats or dogs. We’ve heard that The Antique Mall on 9th Avenue has a resident cat. Right next door, you can often find Bliss and Oakley with their owner Roger Mullins at Bliss Books and Bindery. On your next visit to The Botanic Gardens at OSU watch for Cowboy Kitty, a lovely ginger tabby. Do you know of any other places around town where you can find a “shop” pet?