TEXARKANA — Humans have been coexisting with cats for thousands of years. The remains of cats have been found in excavated remains of some of the earliest human settlements, though those are thought to be wild cats that lived among them.
Felis sylvestris lybica, a small African wildcat, was the cat that lived with the Egyptians 3600 years ago, where they show up in the artwork and their remains are buried in the tombs with humans. But the earliest examples of domesticated cats are thought to be as far back as 10,000 years ago, with human settlements in the Fertile Crescent area of the Middle East.
Cats have traveled with humans and lived in their spaces, beguiling humans with their beauty and personalities. In America, in Texarkana, they don't just share our homes. They share our work spaces.
At Hightech Signs on New Boston Road, Texarkana, Texas, customers can expect to be greeted by a large, white American Bobtail named Casper. He sits at the door, waiting for arrivals. He will greet them with a "meow," and if they don't respond, he will insist on trying to gain their attention. Manners, of course.
"Casper showed up years ago, just four months old," said Christine Acree, office manager. "That first night, we weren't sure what to do with him. We settled him in at the office and went home to think about it."
At that time, none of the employees there were in position to take on a rescue.
"But when we got back to the office the next day, he had obviously settled in and we could already tell he was a great cat," Acree said. "We did not want to give him away, so the answer was clear and the rest is history."
Casper is as much a part of the office as the rest of the staff. A tag with the word "Greeter" on it, explaining his role there.
"He knows you want to exchange pleasantries with him," said Acree. "If you ignored him, he will give you one last chance, waiting by the door again when you leave with one last meow, one last chance to notice his charms."
Regulars to Hightech Signs, customers and delivery people, specifically ask about him when they come to visit.
"When we first got him, there was a change at the office," she said. "Now, this may not work for all work places, depending on the people and the nature of the work. But if you have the right space and the right people, cats are an office asset."
Over at Three Chicks Feed, Seed and Cafe, two felines claim living space among the rural supply store.
"Tuxie has been here for four years," said Ashley Fleming — queen of all multi-tasking. "We found him as a kitten trapped at the bottom of a barrel in the back, starved and skinny. We took him in immediately. Buttah, a female orange tabby, was dropped off here. It is sad, but that happens every now and then, people dumping animals here. In the case of Tuxie and Buttah, they live here in the shop, along with a cluster of ferals out back who work to keep the mice and rats under control."
She describes Tuxie as relaxed and fun, while Buttah is the cool queen of the Cafe.
Persnickety Too on Richmond Road in Texarkana, Texas, also has a customer relations cat who serves also as merchandise inspector.
"Bean came to us in 2016," said Carrie Atkinson, owner of this floral shop.
Atkinson and her husband were foster parents and the cat — "a long haired multi-colored cat" — came with Mackenzie, who they later adopted. It was a package deal.
"Mackenzie was very attached to Bean, but we could not keep her at home, because our dogs unfortunately kill cats they catch outside," Atkinson said. "I decided to take Bean to the shop after talking with other florists about their shop cats. After a few days, Bean had obviously settled in and decided Persnickety Too was home. She is the official shop cat, the greeter."
She takes her duties seriously.
"She asks to be let in the cooler and go in and investigate the merchandise," Atkinson said. "When she is done, she will let us know she's ready to be let out."
Visitors to the shop inquire about Bean and her current whereabouts.
"She has a special relationship with Debra, our mail lady," Atkinson said. "No matter what time of day it is, Bean will stop whatever she is doing to give her attention."
Among the other favorite activities of Bean are chasing pipe cleaners, lap time and window gazing (almost universally enjoyed by domestic cats).
"She meows back at people with a raspy meow, like she at one time had a heavy smoking habit," Atkinson said.