The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 14, 2009

Mike Pound: Percy plans a low-key birthday

By Mike Pound

Globe columnist

He had heard the story before, so he sort of nodded off while his spokesman talked.

Besides, he’s never really been one to toot his own horn. He’s never been a big talker, and he always seems a little ill at ease to be the focus of attention. Really, he’s happiest when he’s allowed to stay above the fray and watch other people, as opposed to them watching him.

But today is his birthday so, like it or not, Percy Katz is going to have to put up with a little publicity, which is why I was sitting in Brad Belk’s office Wednesday afternoon asking him questions while Percy slept in a chair next to Brad.

“Normally he’s down in the lobby,” Brad said. “The only reason he’s up here is because there is a draft down by the door.”

Percy — the mascot, marketing symbol and cat in residence at the Joplin Museum Complex — is celebrating his ninth birthday today. Brad, the executive director of the museum, said that in light of the tough economic times, Percy’s birthday party will be a low-key deal. In the past, the museum has thrown small parties and invited folks to stop by the museum, but Brad said no big celebration is planned this year. Although, if folks would like to drop off a donation on Percy’s behalf to the Joplin Humane Society or perhaps to Crosslines in Joplin, the museum staff would be glad to pass along the gift. Or, better yet, if you want to eliminate the middle man, you could just drop off the donation yourself. Either way, Percy would appreciate the thought.

Percy’s story began in December 1999, when museum staff members noticed the scrappy kitten holed up underneath the large, wooden mining tool that sits directly in front of the building’s entrance. Brad said there was just enough space at the bottom of the mining tool — known as a hand jig — for him to slide a plate of food for the kitten.

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