Stealthily sneaking between the shelves of The Raven Bookstore crept Ngaio, a standoffish black cat. Her companion, Dashiell, slept in a fuzzy basket behind the register.
Chip Badley, a clerk at the store, said he thinks of the two animals as his own.
"The cats are the best co-workers I could have had," Badley said. "You're the cool uncle here. You come in and you get to have your cat fix for four or five hours a day. You kind of live vicariously through the cats and you don't have to do too much."
Some of the businesses in downtown Lawrence keep animals to attract customers and create a comfortable atmosphere.
And the Great Plains SPCA is launching a new program in hopes of turning more shelter cats into office cats.
Love Garden, a record store on Massachusetts Street, have Mickey and Sam, which customers occasionally refer to as "meowsic experts."
Franklin Fantini, an employee at the store, said customers often come in just to see the felines.
"I think animals make people better," Fantini said. "It changes the store. They make it more of a calming place."
Courtney Thomas, the director of the Great Plains SPCA, said shelters are beginning to look to offices as a new place to foster cats.
"It's a great way for people to enjoy the benefits of companionship while they're at work," she said.
Great Plains SPCA just started reaching out to businesses and office spaces, even offering to pay for food, toys and other expenses.
Shelters often receive an influx of kittens during spring months, and allowing workplaces to adopt or foster at least one cat could lighten SPCA's burden.
"Shelters get flooded with pets who just need a place to go," Thomas explained. "What better way to do that than to get businesses involved."
The hope is that having the cats in the workplace will help promote them as great adoption candidates and lead them to having happy homes. The shelter said that studies show workers are more productive and happy when you have a furry friend curling around your legs (unless you are allergic to one of those furry co-workers).
Badley said the bookstore cats not only attract customers, they've become de facto mascots for the shop. The store now sells postcards and other merchandise with pictures of Ngaio and Dashiell, who are named for famous authors Ngaio Marsh and Dashiell Hammett.
But he cautioned that cats can have their disadvantages and require a certain amount of patience.
"Sometimes the cats get a little feisty and decide they want to become cashiers and step on the keyboard or get in the way of customers," he said.
Fantini, who has devoted an entire Instagram to the cats at Love Garden, said the animals cause similar mischief in the record store and occasionally leave messes. You can see their adventures by clicking this link.
But both said the cats are worth the trouble, as long as everyone pitches in to help look after the corporate kitties.
"We all just kind of collectively own the cat," Badley explained.
For more information on the Great Plains efforts, click here and here.
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