The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 27, 2013

Joplin Museum Complex takes in pregnant cat and companion for Percy

JOPLIN, Mo. — Visitors to the Joplin Museum Complex are doing a double-take these days.

Percy the resident cat now has a companion who looks a lot like him. In fact, she is a bit of an “imPercynator,” according to Brad Belk, director of the museum.

“We know obviously the difference between Percy and her, but she confuses some of our visitors,” Belk said.

The female feline turned up about a month ago.

“Somewhere prior to July 4, around the last week of June, there was a gray cat spotted out in the park and someone came running in the museum and said: ‘Did you know Percy was out in the park?’” Belk said.

The staff knew the cat in the park wasn’t Percy because he was safe inside the museum.

“A day or two later, all of a sudden this little gray cat came walking around the park and we notice it seems to be homeless. We went into the mode we always do. We never let any animal, dog or cat, go without food. We put out food and she ate every bit.”

The cat then disappeared for a couple of days. Belk thought she had found her way back home.

“Then she popped up again. By then, I could get hold of her and she was just skin and bones,” Belk said, of the starving kitty.

Around July 4, he brought her inside the museum and confined her away from Percy’s domain to protect her from the scare of fireworks. “I let her have a couple of nights of rest and full plates of food. She seemed to really enjoy that.”

When the hungry cat felt better, Belk discovered she had what he described as a “wonderful personality.” He took her to a veterinarian, who gave her a clean bill of health.

Belk then introduced her to Percy to see if the two could get along.

“The first interactions were a hiss-off where we would get face to face and hiss at each other. But no paws were raised. No one struck anyone or chased anyone. Now, Percy is absolutely fine with her,” he said.

With a few meals in her belly, the museum staff noticed something else.

“She is now in the throes of pregnancy,” Belk said.

Percy is not the father, but he could well serve as the stepfather. Belk said she evidently was pregnant when she turned up, but wasn’t showing yet because of her scrawny condition.

The staff has not named her because Belk does not know yet whether he can keep her.

“We are going to see this pregnancy through. She has grown into the hearts of us at the museum. We are going to see her through her pregnancy, but we can’t keep the kittens,” he said.

“If things progress as they are, she may well become a permanent companion,” he said. “If that is the case, we would love to have the public’s help in naming her.”

Belk is interested in hearing from people who would be willing to adopt a kitten. He said he does not know when they will be born or how many there could be.

“We want these kittens to have good homes. We want a commitment they will be taken care of, and be spayed and neutered,” he said.

Belk thinks it would be fun to have momma cat stay with Percy, who has been at the museum 13 years. “The two of them together will stump people on who’s who,” he said.

People who want to see the momma cat or be considered as adoptive parents for the kittens may visit the museum at Schifferdecker Park, Belk said.

“We’re waiting on pins and needles for the safety of mom and that the kittens do not suffer because of the malnutrition,” he said.

“My long-term desire is that she fits in with Percy and we have two cats here, and the public loves them like they have taken to Percy.”

Museum hours

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. It is closed Sunday and Monday.

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