More tales of the kitty

Meet an­other round of Bal­ti­more’s cutest store cats

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - LIFE & TRAVEL - By Sameer Rao

While the pres­i­dent of the United States might see Bal­ti­more as infested with rats, the furry truth lurks in al­leys, homes, shops and In­sta­gram ac­counts across the re­gion: Charm City loves cats, the ro­dents’ rhyme-named neme­ses.

Our last ar­ti­cle about cats in lo­cal shops gen­er­ated a far greater re­sponse than we could have imag­ined. Many read­ers emailed touch­ing re­flec­tions on the cats that fre­quented their own homes, neigh­bor­hoods and of­fices. Just as im­por­tantly, quite a few reached out to point out more that we did not in­clude. Their en­thu­si­asm for an­i­mals who al­ter­nately love some of us, while plot­ting hu­mankind’s demise and col­lec­tive an­noy­ance, made a case for an­other list of lo­cal fe­line fix­tures.

Meet eight more cats “work­ing” at greater Bal­ti­more’s brew­eries, hard­ware stores and even bird­feed shops.

Ernie

Home: Mobtown Brew­ing Com­pany, 4015 Fos­ter Ave., Suite 400, Bal­ti­more

Back­story: Ernie, like his aptly named lit­ter­mate and fel­low black-and-white cat Bert, moved into the High­land­town craft brew­ery around the time it opened in April. Be­fore then, they stayed with co-owner and head brewer Dave Car­pen­ter, who in­her­ited them from his par­ents af­ter they died.

“They were at my house, but we had three other cats at my house and it got a lit­tle chaotic,” Car­pen­ter said. “So when

we opened the brew­ery, I was like, ‘They’re com­ing with me!’ ”

Car­pen­ter noted that he some­times catches the pair curled up to­gether, tak­ing a cat­nap or fight­ing over the best spots to sleep.

“Bert will find a spot and he’ll sleep in it for maybe a few days … and then Ernie will go and see that Bert’s sleep­ing there, so then, when Bert’s not there, Ernie will take it,” he said. “They’ve ac­tu­ally swat­ted [at each other] over them, too, it’s pretty funny.”

The broth­ers also get vo­cal when they’re hun­gry and stalk Car­pen­ter dur­ing the morn­ing and early af­ter­noon un­til he feeds them.

Ernie is the more vis­i­ble half (see “Purrson­al­ity” be­low) of the duo, and his public ap­pear­ances even prompted a small note on cans of Mobtown’s 41-Year Lapse pale ale.

“If you look at the date stamp on the bot­tom of the can, it has lit­tle state­ments like, ‘Get off the bar, Ernie,’ be­cause he’s al­ways jump­ing up on the bar,” Car­pen­ter ex­plained.

Purrson­al­ity: While his brother prefers to spend his time asleep or out of reach in the back of the brew­ery, Ernie em­braces the role of host — at least, as long as it ben­e­fits him.

“He’s a lit­tle timid around big crowds, but if there’s a smaller amount of peo­ple — like early in the day, right af­ter we open, there’s maybe less than 10 peo­ple here — he’ll lit­er­ally jump into peo­ple’s laps [if they’re] sit­ting at the bar,” Car­pen­ter said, laugh­ing. “He picks out the one that prob­a­bly don’t like cats as much, I’m sure.”

Meow

Home: Sch­nei­der Paint and Hard­ware, 700 Wyn­d­hurst Ave., Suite A, Bal­ti­more

Back­story: Legacy mat­ters at Sch­nei­der Paint and Hard­ware. Pro­pri­etor Jef­frey Pratt said that his great-grand­fa­ther started a gro­cery store at Sch­nei­der’s Roland Park lo­ca­tion in 1896. It piv­oted to sell­ing hard­ware dur­ing World War II. It was Pratt’s fa­ther who first in­tro­duced cats to the store, and Meow con­tin­ues the role cats play in many hard­ware stores: catch­ing pests.

“The main ob­jec­tive [for my fa­ther] was for con­trol of mice, par­tic­u­larly,” Pratt said. “When I did get [Meow], I did not know we had mice un­til she started bring­ing me ‘presents!’ She’s do­ing a great job, be­cause that hap­pened for the first month, month-and-ahalf, and I haven’t seen a sign of them

any­where.”

Meow joined Sch­nei­der’s staff in Fe­bru­ary, af­ter her pre­vi­ous owner, a nearby friend of Pratt’s, suc­cumbed to can­cer last Novem­ber.

“While he was in in-home hospice, my wife and I would visit at the house, and his kids said, ‘Meow re­ally has a lik­ing to­wards you … do you want her?’ ” Pratt said, adding that Meow takes on cer­tain be­hav­iors — sleep­ing in a small cubby hole, me­ow­ing when some­one says her name — that she did back home.

Purrson­al­ity: Pratt de­scribed the tabby as “very so­cial.” She en­cour­ages cus­tomers to pet her and uses dif­fer­ent me­ows to “talk” to peo­ple, de­pend­ing on her ob­jec­tive. She even some­times heads back to his wife Pat’s ad­ja­cent store, The Car­riage House of Sch­nei­der’s, prompted only by Mrs. Pratt’s voice.

“I’ve no­ticed she has a dif­fer­ent meow sound when she’s hun­gry,” Pratt ob­served. Cus­tomers should def­i­nitely shower her with at­ten­tion, although those with dogs should be care­ful: “[The pre­vi­ous owner] had three chi­huahua’s that tor­tured her, and she thinks all dogs are ter­ri­ble.”

Lulu

Home: Saratoga Trunk, 1740 Aliceanna St., Bal­ti­more

Back­story: Lulu, along with an­other cat named Czak, spends her days at Saratoga Trunk in Fells Point home. Vicki McCo­mas, who owns and lives just above the an­tiques shop, said that she found both cats through the Bal­ti­more An­i­mal Res­cue and Care Shel­ter (BARCS). While both cats like peo­ple, Lulu em­braces the thrill of public en­gage­ment more of­ten than her house­mate.

“If the weather’s good, I will leave the door ajar, and she sits on the front step,” McCo­mas said. “Any­body that walks by, she goes up to them, has a ‘chat,’ and when they try to pet her, she comes back to the store and they fol­low her in. She’s a shill!”

McCo­mas, who’s kept cats in the store since open­ing it nearly 20 years ago, also works as sculp­tor. She es­ti­mated that about half of the clay works she stores in a room that ad­joins Saratoga Trunk de­pict her cats, in­clud­ing Lulu.

Purrson­al­ity: Lulu’s main job of en­tic­ing cus­tomers points to her com­fort around peo­ple.

“Lulu’s the kind of cat that if some­one starts pet­ting her, and she re­ally likes them, she rolls on her back and lets them scratch her tummy, and that’s very un­usual in a cat,” McCo­mas said. “We’re not sure she’s a cat, let’s put it that way.”

Stout

Home: In­ver­ness Brew­ing, 16200 Markoe Rd., Monk­ton

Back­story: Any­body who drinks dark beer will un­der­stand why the res­i­dent cat at this ac­claimed Bal­ti­more county farm brew­ery took the name of the iconic Bri­tish beer. Like a buzz from a dark beer that ex­ceeds 8% al­co­hol by vol­ume, the fe­line friend just showed up about three months ago.

“It was al­most like he came here for a rea­son,” co-owner Sandy Frank said. “He walked around the brew­ery like he’d been there for­ever.”

While cats can help brew­eries of all kinds elim­i­nate and ward off pests, In­ver­ness’ ru­ral set­ting on Frank’s north­ern Bal­ti­more county farm of­fers more room to roam and ver­min to at­tack. This makes Stout, a stray out­doors cat-turned-brew­ery res­i­dent, es­pe­cially unique.

“We have traps out all of the time, and my hus­band said, ‘You know, we’re not catch­ing any mice,’ ” Frank said. “I think he makes a huge dif­fer­ence, that’s for sure.”

Purrson­al­ity: Stout bucks the stereo­types sur­round­ing black cats in a num­ber of ways, in­clud­ing by be­ing, in Frank’s words, “su­per friendly.”

“Usu­ally, on farms, you’ll have cats … they just run around and no­body ever knows who they are,” she said. “But this cat has got­ten to be so per­son­able that peo­ple are al­ways talk­ing about the cat, and he’s be­come part of the fam­ily now.”

Marley

Home: Wild Birds Un­lim­ited, 2438 Broad Ave., Luthervill­e-Ti­mo­nium

Back­story: As weird as it sounds to keep a cat in a store with the word “birds” in its name, pro­pri­etor Wendy Baker has an easy ex­pla­na­tion.

“We don’t sell birds, we sell back­yard bird-feed­ing sup­plies,” Baker said. “A lot of bird­seed, bird food, then bird feed­ers, bird­houses, bird baths, a lot of na­ture stuff. So she’s re­ally the only an­i­mal in the store.”

Marley did her job so well that she now holds a vice pres­i­dent po­si­tion, fo­cus­ing on pest con­trol man­age­ment, with the busi­ness.

Purrson­al­ity: Although she is friendly to cus­tomers and largely in­dif­fer­ent to their dogs, Marley does not like to go out­side. Baker said that this qual­ity is im­por­tant to any cat whose bird-lov­ing own­ers pre­fer the back­yard stay corpse-free.

“I’m so glad she’s an in­door cat,” she said. “Cats kill a lot of song­birds, and we al­ways tell peo­ple to please keep your cats in­doors.”

Decker

Home: Fed­eral Hill Ace Hard­ware, 1214 Light St., Bal­ti­more

Back­story: Decker, like Stan­ley at the Can­ton Ace Hard­ware lo­ca­tion and Ben at the Waverly out­post (more on him later), is named af­ter a ubiq­ui­tous home im­prove­ment and con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als com­pany. He joined the Ace fam­ily in Novem­ber 2010, af­ter man­ager Dave Evans adopted him.

“He was ac­tu­ally on his way, al­most, to be eu­th­a­nized,” Evans said. “And I said, ‘Fine, fine. You know what, we’ll give it a shot. bring him in, let him walk around and see what hap­pens.’ So they bring him in, and I just put the cage down, and he just ca­su­ally took one paw out, looked around, took an­other paw out, looked around, kind of got out of the cage, walked down an aisle and parked his butt, and that was it. He just fit in im­me­di­ately.”

Decker, Stan­ley and Ben serve as their re­spec­tive stores’ in­for­mal brand am­bas­sadors. Decker boasts over a thou­sand fol­low­ers on his own Face­book page and ap­pears on spe­cialty socks that the Fed­eral Hill store sells.

Purrson­al­ity: Decker’s dig­i­tal pop­u­lar­ity partly stems from his easy­go­ing and ami­able de­meanor. Evans said that he is com­fort­able with var­i­ous kinds of cus­tomers, from chil­dren to adults.

“Peo­ple ac­tu­ally come just to see

Decker,” he said.

Ben

Home: Waverly Ace Hard­ware, 601 E. Homestead St., Bal­ti­more

Back­story: Named af­ter Ben­jamin Moore paints, this cat rounds out the tri­umvi­rate of Ace Hard­ware mas­cots with un­der­stated el­e­gance. Store man­ager Pa­trick Ber­berich said that he came to Waverly from BARCS roughly a decade ago.

“Our main con­cern was ro­dent con­trol,” Ber­berich ex­plained. “There’s mice ev­ery­where in the city, and we are not im­mune. … They’ll eat any kind of seed, so of­ten­times Ben will be found just sort of star­ing at the bird­seed for hours.”

Ben also car­ries the Waverly Ace Hard­ware iden­tity onto Face­book. “Sim­i­lar to what hap­pens with [the other cats], peo­ple come in to say hi, he’s got reg­u­lar visi­tors.

Purrson­al­ity: Ber­berich de­scribed Ben as “pretty low key, gen­er­ally noc­tur­nal for the most part” and res­o­lutely anti-dog.

“He’s been known to hiss at dogs quite of­ten,” he said. Oth­er­wise, “he’s usu­ally sleep­ing at the front of the store.”

Sim­coe

Home: DuClaw Brew­ing Com­pany, 8901 Yel­low Brick Rd., Suite B, Rosedale

Back­story: Sim­coe, who shares a name with a pop­u­lar va­ri­ety of hops, came from the same lit­ter as fel­low brew­ery tabby Hell­razer and two oth­ers who have since been adopted.

“We got them to help keep mice away, which is a pretty stan­dard thing for brew­eries,” said DuClaw mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Made­line Cald­well. “We’ve found that they help with em­ployee morale … it’s just nice to have [their] pres­ence at the brew­ery.”

The cats, now close to 3 years old, fre­quently ap­pear in re­gional bars, via the tap han­dles for var­i­ous DuClaw beers, and other branded items. DuClaw cur­rently does not have a public tap­room, which means that un­less you can get on one of the lim­ited pri­vate tours, you’ll have to fol­low Sim­coe’s ad­ven­tures on the cats’ In­sta­gram. In ad­di­tion, any­body in­ter­ested in Sim­coe can reach out to DuClaw to learn about pos­si­ble adop­tion op­tions, Cald­well said.

Purrson­al­ity: Sim­coe, who has longer hair than his sis­ter, es­pe­cially likes hang­ing around em­ploy­ees at the pop­u­lar craft brew­ery’s Rosedale head­quar­ters.

“[He] is su­per play­ful, will al­ways be in our of­fices ly­ing in the sun­shine,” Cald­well said.

BAR­BARA HADDOCK TAY­LOR/BAL­TI­MORE SUN PHO­TOS

Res­i­dent cats Bert and Ernie are lit­ter­mates who live at Mobtown Brew­ing in High­land­town.

Meow, shop cat at Sch­nei­der Paint and Hard­ware in Roland Park, sits in her fa­vorite chair.

BAR­BARA HADDOCK TAY­LOR/BAL­TI­MORE SUN PHO­TOS

Lulu, one of two res­i­dent shop cats at Saratoga Trunk in Fells Point, en­joys watch­ing bird videos on a desk in the shop of­fice.

Wendy Baker, owner of Wild Birds Un­lim­ited in Ti­mo­nium, plays with Marley, the res­i­dent shop cat at her store for the past 11 years. Novem­ber 6, 2019

Sim­coe sits atop brew­ing equip­ment at DuClaw Brew­ing Com­pany in Rosedale.

Stout is the res­i­dent cat at In­ver­ness Brew­ery in Monk­ton.

Ben, res­i­dent shop cat at the Ace Hard­ware store in Waverly, pa­trols the store’s aisles.

Decker is the shop cat at Ace Hard­ware in Fed­eral Hill. Novem­ber 7, 2019

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