BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. (KGET) — Pet adoption is one of our signature issues here at KGET and we regularly showcase dogs and cats that need homes. Well, here’s a different sort of cat adoption story — one that illustrates big hearts here in this place Where We Live.
This is the story of Momma Cat, perhaps a familiar sight to those who’s spent significant time at the Home Depot home improvement store on Rosedale Highway in northwest Bakersfield.
For 10 years — or so employees say — Mamma Cat, a black and gold tabby, has been making her home in the vicinity of aisles 11, 12 and 13 — the paint department — tucked back on a shelf wherever there might be enough room between products for her furry 20-pound body. Employees paid for cat food out of their own pockets.
Longtime Home Depot customer Lisa Witthans, whose daughter used to work at the store, was sort of buddies with Mamma Cat.
“During the day you’d usually find her asleep in the shelves somewhere,” Witthans said. “But she would come out if you were wearing an orange apron. She would come out and let you pet her. But if you weren’t wearing an orange apron, forget it because she couldn’t trust you. But if you were wearing an orange apron she’d let you because she knew you were her friend.”
Employees say Mamma Cat was so beloved she was once named Employee of the Month and presented with a cat-sized orange Home Depot apron.
Joana Rodriguez, an off-duty employee, said Mamma Cat apparently felt right at home.
“She loved to play,” Rodriguez said. “You could roll up a little paper ball and you would throw it at her and she would throw it back at you. She loved to play. Like I said, she was a Home Depot cat. That’s what we named her, the Home Depot cat. Everybody loved her.”
But one week in October, 2021, Mamma Cat was declared a felina-non-grata and served with her eviction papers. It was either adoption or a call to county animal services.
Thankfully an employee in the paint department rehomed Mamma Cat, so the story ends happily.
“I think she went to a great home,” Rodriguez said. “So I’m glad.”
But there’s plenty more stray cats where Momma Cat came from. The open fields and sumps along the back of the Bakersfield Promenade shopping center is literally a breeding ground.
Joana Rodriguez already has one in mind: Bink, a midnight black kitten who makes her home in the semi-enclosed garden department. Notch another one for the unofficial Home Depot pet adoption program: Joana plans to adopt Bink.
There’s something very small-town and quaintly welcoming about a store that keeps a fuzzy mascot around — something therapeutic about an even tempered cat peering shyly from behind a row of cans of Rust-Oleum.
“I think for the employees and for the customers,” Witthans said, “this just kind of gives you a good homey feeling to have a pet.”
If you’re tempted to adopt a stray cat from one of these areas, or deposit an unwanted cat there — consider some other options. One is the Cat People. For info on spay-neuter and other issues contact them at thecatpeople.org.
The Home Depot manager tells KGET it’s company policy that store-level management not speak to the media. Calls to the Home Depot corporate office had not been returned by the 5 p.m. Tuesday.