The Working Cats at Agway

Who Really Runs the Store Here?

Guess who really runs the store?

Guess who really runs the store?

Just as at home, if there’s a cat at a business, she’s the boss.

Miko (mee-ko), a very outgoing tan and white three-year-old, apparently makes the rules about cash register use at the H.J. Paul and Sons Agway on Glass Road in Robinson Township. It may be that humans can’t be trusted with money, but most likely she wanted to be the center of attention, and indeed she was. And she loves to be photographed.

Read more about Miko, and scroll down for a few more links to stories about the working cats at one of my favorite places.


I Dare You

tabby cat in doorway

Don't even think of trying to get past me.

Ever see a guard cat? Meet Gambit. He’s got an opening large enough to drive a truck through—literally—to keep free from intruders. Visitors from small animals to large people think twice before trying to walk past him at the Agway.

Of course, once you get to know him, you know his affection for everyone is as big is he is, him and his polydactyl paws. Well, maybe not so much with the small animals.

I love how some of these dark tabbies have that wonderful bloom of orange and red on their muzzle and on their nose.


Gambit and Tabatha

two cats

Gambit and Tabatha nap in the shade.

I stopped at the Agway yesterday and had the pleasure of visiting with two of the cats in their permanent collection as well as the last two kittens to be adopted.

Gambit and Tabatha probably know me as the lady who always chases them with a camera. Here they are in a cool spot on the concrete under the racks that hold plants for sale.

They have a total of three cats in residence, and I often see Gambit and Tabatha together while the other cat was one of the feral mothers they had taken in and had spayed, but who has never fully integrated into the group. I’ll get a photo of her some time while she’s out in the warehouse.


He Got the Good Nap Spot

cat on shelf and cat in box

Tabatha tries to move Gambit with her tortitude.

An expression like Tabatha’s should be able to knock Gambit out of the box of peat pellets, but he seems immune to Tabatha’s tortitude.

The striped object laid across the top of the box is Gambit, who is one very big tabby cat. These two working cats are doing their best to imitate seasonal gardening supplies on the empty shelves, due to be filled in just a month or two.

The two live at the Agway where I buy plant seeds, bird seed and cat food, and also dehydrated peat pellets for starting seeds. I’m sure the box full makes a nice bed. They also sell my feline, flower and nature greeting cards so I’m there pretty frequently with all that. I’m always sure to check in on these two who now have a sort of grumpy old cat relationship instead of the torrid affair they’d been carrying on before they were both trapped and fixed.

Laboring At What We Love

portrait on easel

Portrait in Progress.

You hear about me and my work all the time, but I also try to give credit where credit is due—to my feline family, who through the years have always worked just as hard as me…in their own way. But as I constantly reiterate, they were my inspiration for art, and I might not be where I am today if not for them, showing and selling my art was the basis for my business plan for self-employment along with commercial art, and being able to be at home with them, especially as my first group grew older, was one of the decision points in actually deciding when to take the plunge.

(Kelly adds this, “9+**************366666……”. Go figure.)

You can find the portrait above, “Ripley, Murphy, O.G., Veda and Missy Kitty”, in progress and finished on my Portrait Demonstration page.

And below, I’ve pasted a few posts of my cats at work with links to others. We are busy today as I prepare for an upcoming month of events!

Ready for Work

two torties in studio

Tortie Girls reporting for work.

My studio supervisors arrive at work before me! I’m working on starting the day in my studio when my eyes are rested and I have daylight to work with instead of ending it there and working too late into the night.

My tortie girls agree! They’ve been staying up all night with me for more years than they want to remember—after all, they have to supervise me or how could I get any artwork done? The most important role they serve is sleeping on my lap or next to my feet so that I need to stay put and therefore get work done. One would never get up or move while a cat is sleeping.

The younger ones have something to learn from keeping me under control, perhaps someday one of them will show some potential.

Cookie has had a lifelong role in what I do, and this will clarify what she does: I Will Never Get to Retire.


And Then I Gave Up Work for the Day

four black cats on desk

Maybe she'll notice us now.

Okay, okay, I admit I’ve been busy, but do you guys like to eat?! Then you’ll keep doing things like this as inspiration.

I also admit I posted this nearly two years ago, but it’s still appropriate today, as is the text below. The one thing I’d add is two torties on my lap, and Mimi on my keyboard shelf. I have been busy, and I’ve missed sharing a lot of photos.

For now, enjoy somewhat over 50 pounds of black cat on one desk.

They are always doing something unique, that whimsical quartet of siblings, but sometimes they have the right idea. I really was tired, my eyes were strained, I was losing focus at the end of a long day, and one by one the three boys piled up trying to get their point across (we need dinner, you need to stop working), hence the multiple nap. Then Mewsette, the big sister, piled on top of all of them and began bathing them all in turn, causing things to start falling off my desk. Still, I could pile papers on top of them and keep working. When the paws and tails expanded onto my keyboard, I decided to take their advice and quit working for the day.


My Tenth Anniversary

desk with six cats

Desk with Six Cats; sometimes my office is not so beautiful! From left it is Stanley, Sophie, Kelly, Namir, Cookie and Peaches. Only Cookie and Kelly are still with me, but still working hard.

Ten years ago today, January 1, 2000, I fulfilled a dream I had worked a decade to reach when, for the first time in forever, I stayed home to go to work. Even considering the wild ride this past decade has been, I wouldn’t reconsider my decision. I love everything I’ve had the chance to do, all the people I’ve met, and all the businesses and organizations I’ve helped to succeed. In return they’ve helped me, too, as every assignment has also been a lesson, and every accomplishment another level of confidence and credibility.

Needless to say, my cats also approved of the decision.

I remember the 1990s after I had bought my little house and done a good bit of fixing-up, and all I wanted to do was stay here and enjoy what I’d accomplished so far. When I left for work each day I’d stop at the door and look at this room with its new windows, new paint, my art on the walls and carry that vision with me as I left for another day of unknown length and content working as a typesetter for a direct mail company.

[Read more as I describe my work history and working at home with my cats]


Move Over Ikea Cats, Cookie’s Back in the Shop!

tortie cat in front window

"I'm so pretty, I'll bet all sorts of customers will come in today just to see me."

While I had enjoyed Cookie’s company in my Portraits of Animals shop room at Carnegie Antiques through the spring, summer was hot and busy, and Peaches needed Cookie’s company too, so Cookie has had to stay home all these months. Yesterday, she gave me the look and I decided I’d love to have her company down there again.

blur of cat

Cookie was a whirlwind as soon as she got there.

It’s good to be back! I hated the ride in the pink thing and I really let my mom know about it, but once we got here I knew exactly where I was and I got right to work.

Who needs those fancy IKEA cats—I can run around and jump on things as well as any kitty, and I don’t have to share it with 99 others!

[Read all about Cookie’s adventures with links to other her trips to the shop.]


Peaches Has Her Interview

photo of peaches looking at me

"Go do something else."

Oh, my! I’ve been waiting ALL DAY for my mom to leave the computer. Eva posted a comment on my blog post last night, and I even sat on my mom in bed this morning trying to get-her-up!

We finally got to the computer and I heard her say, “It’s a good day to concentrate and get things done,” something to do with the weather which is out there and I don’t pay any attention to it, but she barely left her seat for long enough for me to grab a snack and get back before her.

Read more, including a link to Peaches’ decision to apply and her application! Peaches Applies for a Job


Happy Labor Day everyone! We are off to work!