JACKSON, MI – She goes by Kibby Cat, Shabby Cat or just Mama Kitty, but whatever her name is, this feline resident is becoming an icon at Jackson’s Kibby Cobb Plaza.
Michelle Moore has owned Not So Shabby, Oh! So Chic., located at 2624 Kibby Road in the plaza for about nine years. Since then, a cat has always roamed the property, she said.
Moore used to keep clearance furniture, like dressers, outside the store in the back for customers to browse. Years ago, when a customer was checking out an item, he was in for a nice surprise when he opened a drawer, Moore said.
“She said, ‘Do you know you have kittens back here?’ Moore said. “That confirmed to me that she has been living here and we moved into her house.”
That was the beginning of this long friendship between the cat and the owners of the store in the square, he said. They later found new homes for the kittens and sterilized Mama Kitty to prevent further kittens from happening.
Since the cat has made her home in the square, none of the store owners wanted to take her out of her comfortable place. So, they started feeding her, not giving her water and finally putting her on a heating pad in the winter, Moore said.
“I’m a big animal lover, I don’t know how I couldn’t take care of her. We moved into her territory,” Moore said.
Now, it’s a team effort to care for the cat, with each of the store owners taking turns buying her food or giving her leftovers. The owners of Kibby Cobb Liquor and Deli, Ironbark Brewing Company and Prestige Hair Design help out, Moore said.
Haley Applegate, owner of Prestige Hair Design, has been in the market for two years. She will often hear the cat meowing outside the back door of her living room, signaling that her bowl is empty and she is ready to be fed, she said.
“Sometimes he walks into the back break room and I’m like, ‘Oh, that means he’s hungry,'” Applegate said. “And when Mama Kitty knocks on my door, I feed her.”
A Jackson Public Schools student donated a box, specifically for feral cats, that was made for a school project for the kitty to keep, which she uses from time to time, Moore said.
Even through the years, Mama Kitty remains very shy but loves attention, Moore said. She usually stops by and chats with store owners, she said.
“We hope with love and food that she loves us enough to allow us to pet her,” Moore said.
Shop owners love having the cat around as most of them are animal lovers. They especially love that the cat bonds them and gives them something to bond over, Applegate said.
“That’s my favorite part, that we all work together to make sure he has his food, water and necessities,” Applegate said.
The store owners hope to one day add a drop box in the corner so people can drop off letters or food for Mama Kitty, Moore said.
“She is part of the family here,” More said. “She is very well known.”
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