Hopefully you’ve seen the recent stories about Linda, the cat adopted from the humane society to be the newest employee at Bear Hardware in Nashville. Linda was originally “hired” to help with mouse control but she has quickly taken on the added responsibilities of chief greeter, employee entertainer, and local celebrity.

Working cats can fill a variety of functions. For many, their purpose is to just keep rodents and other small critters away. They may even be feral cats who are not expected to be friendly pets but, in exchange for their work, receive food and care and good shelter. They are wonderful for barns, nurseries, feed stores, breweries, wineries, and other locations where they can work behind the scenes.

Then there is the friendly working cat. Like Linda, they can serve the role of concierge, sales assistant, and greeter. They are social butterflies and conversation starters. They make wonderful additions to small hotels and B&Bs where they sometimes become famous attractions, making visitors feel comfortable in their home away from home.

Shop cats can entice shoppers into a store or business, the crucial first step for getting customers, and studies have shown that businesses that support animals rate highly with customers.

At the New Leaf shop in Nashville that’s the role Sassy has performed for 13 years. Taken in as a kitten, Sassy is well known by those who visit the store or frequent the garden area outside. In a shop filled with beautiful pieces displayed on the counters, hanging from the ceiling and arranged on the floor, Sassy manages to pick her way gently among the merchandise, rarely breaking or disturbing anything. Customers who take a moment to sit in the comfy red chair may suddenly find Sassy on their lap.

Christina McGinly from Farmer’s Insurance in Nashville adopted two elderly cats from the humane society to live at her office. Before they passed away, they provided companionship for the employees and put smiles on the faces of customers.

Artist Monique Cagle has several resident cats at her studio, a converted grain bin in Brown County, where they are seen lounging in the sun or stretched out on one of the comfortable chairs. They add to the feeling of comfort at the studio and are sometimes the subject of Monique’s photography and artwork.

A trip out to the Flower and Herb Barn and the Farmhouse Cafe in Bean Blossom usually results in greetings from at least one resident cat. Some of the cats are shy, while others are happy to escort you through the greenhouse helping you choose your plants.

Many shop owners comment that people will come by just to see their resident cat and both New Leaf and Bear Hardware report that this is certainly true with Sassy and Linda. Those same visitors become repeat customers.

If you are interested in learning about adopting a cat for your business, contact the humane society at 812-988-7362.