Cats are excellent at keeping pests and rodents at bay, but it can be startling seeing these fearless hunters in unexpected places.
Recently, Sarah McAnulty, a biologist and foremost expert on all things squid-related (yes, you read that right!) was visiting the Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when she spied a big orange and white cat being “escorted out.” When she asked why, she was told the cat “shows up at the most inopportune moments.”
Tonight I saw a massive orange cat get escorted out of Longwood Gardens. I asked “is he not welcome here?”, and the guy sighed & said “He shows up at the most inopportune moments”. So now, obviously, I want an entire sitcom about their relationship.— Sarah McAnulty, Ph.D (@SarahMackAttack) September 17, 2022
Sarah was so charmed by this response, she tweeted about it. Little did she know that she had stumbled into a veritable fan club for the cats of Longwood Gardens.
Within moments of making her tweet, replies came pouring in. Sarah hadn’t even shared a picture, but people quickly identified the orange cat as one of the garden’s full time residents. Her name is Persimmon!
“This cat is an icon and always a highlight of my visits to Longwood!” one person tweeted.
Longwood Gardens is a sprawling botanical garden that has been housing a gang of formerly-stray cats since 1984. According to a blog post, the practice of employing cats started with director Fred Roberts, who insisted they keep a pregnant stray who wandered into the garden.
These days, there are at least a dozen Longwood Gardens cats on duty. These animals are assigned different areas and buildings on the premises, fed by specific human handlers, and receive veterinary services including spaying, neutering, and vaccinations.
Cats are an important part of the garden’s integrated pest management strategy. As an added bonus, visitors love giving them love and attention whenever they pop out to say “hi!”
“We look for him every time we go,” tweeted another one of Persimmon’s many fans.
As for why such a beloved member of the garden staff was escorted out? One person tweeted that Persimmon sometimes gets into tight spots where he could get hurt or damage some of the garden’s plants.
“A couple years ago when I was there they were escorting an orange cat out and when I asked why it’s because he liked to get stuck on the ceiling beams in the greenhouse (where the hibiscus are) and won’t come down,” wrote one Twitter user. “So they try not to let him in.”
Sarah offered up her own theory to Bored Panda.
“I suspect walking into places that cats aren’t supposed to go, like underfoot in the dark like she was when I met her, or maybe climbing in a Christmas tree around the holidays,” Sarah said. “Persimmon seems to enjoy being the center of attention, and she deserves it.”
Who else thinks all public gardens should have a fleet of cats on duty? Not only are they great at pest control, they’re adorable, too. Win, win!
Share this story to give Persimmon a virtual pat on the head.
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