Articles in Featuring Felines are written by
[ Home | Famous | Featuring | Fans | Fabled | Folios | Fun | Philately | Fragments | Flotsam ]
Percy Katz, a handsome Russian Blue, is the official cat-in-residence and museum greeter at the Joplin Museum Complex in Joplin, Missouri, in the southern United States. He joined the staff in December 1999, when as a small kitten he was found one day crouching under a large, wooden hand jig (a kind of mining tool) that stands in front of the museum entrance. There wasn't much room under there, but museum director Brad Belk was able to slide in a plate of food for the youngster. Staff continued to feed him thus for about a week, until the weather forecast threatened a heavy snowstorm and led to fears for his safety. Brad managed to grab him and take him inside and he has lived there ever since. Percy has become the mascot and trademark of the museum and in some ways has come to represent Joplin itself, so well known has he become. He is named after local Joplin composer Percy Wenrich.
Percy has two great attributes for a museum cat: he is very agile, so is able to navigate around the place without knocking over or damaging artefacts; and he is excellent at public relations! He likes to 'meet and greet' visitors at the door, but doesn't overdo it and knows when to back off and not outstay his welcome. Children love him, and he is fine with dogs he just doesn't much like other cats, having had no former experience of them. Most years he has a birthday party, to which local people are invited in return for a donation to one of the town's humane societies.
In August 2006 someone 'catnapped' Percy; staff made a plea to the public to assist in searching for him and the event was reported all over the local news media, receiving 'as much attention as the Lindbergh baby kidnapping'. Fortunately he was returned within a couple of days, being put into a cat carrier that had been set up outside the building.
Later that same year the cat suffered from cancerous lesions on his abdomen and one of his hind legs, for which he was treated at Overland Park, Kansas but an aggressive form of fibrosarcoma returned. He therefore needed radiation treatment, which was carried out at the University of Missouri-Columbia Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, where there is not only an innovative veterinary oncology programme but also one of the few linear accelerators dedicated to radiation therapy for veterinary use. Percy had a stay of four weeks and 20 or so doses of radiation, which seemed to clear up the problem with no bad side effects. He recovered over the Christmas period of 2006. Nurses kept the curtains drawn around him when possible, so he couldn't see and become upset by other cats being treated at the facility. The museum emphasises that Percy's treatment was funded by donations and there was no question of using any museum funds.
So Percy was soon back on the job, greeting museum visitors from all over and even receiving letters from around the world. In the local area he is quite a celebrity, with a number of newspaper and magazine articles written about him. He counts the Governor of Missouri amongst his many fans, and he even has his portrait in oils (above), painted and donated by a local artist, hanging in the museum lobby. Apparently on one occasion Brad Pitt's mother visited the museum, wanting one of Percy's kittens to give to Brad's wife at the time. Unfortunately for her, of course, Percy was neutered!
Images of Percy in the window, and the close-up of his portrait, courtesy of jamie_lee3 at Flickr.
The plan was to let her have the kittens, have them adopted when they were old enough, and keep her at the museum on a trial basis to see whether Percy approved, and of course whether she fitted into museum life herself. There were six kittens, and Crystal, as she was now named, turned out to be an excellent mother, taking good care of them. After weaning, five of them were adopted to new homes, but for some reason one wasn’t; named Roxie, it was decided she too should join the museum staff.
Crystal was spayed so she wouldn't have more kittens; but there was a scare with Roxie later when she became lethargic and wasn't eating. A trip to the vet indicated that her intestines had 'telescoped' and would need quite complex surgery. For a few days her fate was in the balance, but then she made a complete recovery.
In February 2014 it was reported that after a 'brief period of adjustment' Percy had accepted the newcomers, and in fact they had brought new life to the 'old boy' and he was spending less time sleeping! It also means that when he eventually passes on, his succession at the museum will be assured. For now the Joplin Museum Complex is home to three beautiful feline residents.
If you'd like to comment please contact me,
Drop in at our Facebook page
Featuring Felines index
for more real-life stories and adventures of cats
Fans of Felines
or visit the Purr 'n' Fur home page
Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.
Copyright © Patrick Roberts & Purr 'n' Fur UK 2003-14
All rights reserved
Images and content (whether original or used at Purr 'n' Fur with permission) may NOT be reproduced
at another website or otherwise copied or used without prior permission.
Direct linking (hotlinking) to ANY images on this site is strictly forbidden.
If you want something, !
Page created March 2010, with later revisions and additions