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Pudgy cat stars at dog-grooming business

By jim Published: July 20, 2009

FREMONT, Neb. (AP) — Carolyn Headrick has no delusions about the star of her downtown Fremont business.

"Oliver," said Headrick, who owns Dogs-R-Us Grooming.

At her best guess, she said Oliver is about 14 years old. He's solid black and "a little on the heavy side."

One could call Oliver the fat cat of downtown Fremont.

Cat? In a dog grooming business?

"He has his own fan club," Headrick said. "People will come in here just to see him, and he eats up the attention. He's a pretty popular kitty around here. Everybody thinks he's so cute."

Headrick said she was given Oliver about 12 years ago by a client after a cat of hers died. Oliver was a stray cat that had wandered into the client's home.

"My client knew I was sad about losing that kitty," Headrick said. "So he brought Oliver to me."

Most of the time when people walk into Dogs-R-Us, they will find Oliver laying on the front counter, ready to welcome customers, accept petting and hugs.

"He loves to snuggle. He's a big snuggler," she said. "We say his job is customer relations. He's in charge of our customer relations. He gets paid well: lots of love and all the food he wants.

"He loves kids. He'll let the kids sit up on the counter with him and hug him. He's even learned to get his picture taken. People will come in and take pictures of him with their phones. He thinks he's photogenic. He doesn't understand that black doesn't always take great pictures."

Oliver isn't her first shop cat. She said she had a yellow tabby a few years before Oliver came into her life. The yellow tabby lived in the shop for five years.

But some people still can't get over the cat who lives in a dog-grooming business.

"Some people think we should have a dog as our mascot, but Oliver likes being our mascot," she said. "A lot of people think it's a little different. We're OK with that."

But Oliver isn't the only fat cat of downtown businesses.

Nicodemus doesn't get near the attention that Oliver gets, but Jim Richert, who owns SGO glass designs with his wife, Jan, said their tuxedo cat knows who's boss.

"He is," said Jim.

The Richerts got Nicodemus about a year ago from the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha, and Jim said their best guess is that he's about 8 years old.

Nicodemus usually is waiting for them at the back door around 9:45 a.m., just before they open, Richert said.

"If I come in early, he's not there," Jim said. "It's too early."

"He has a pretty good clock," said the Richerts' son, Joshua, who works with them.

"And he knows when it's time to go," Jim said. "Then he hides and pouts."

Unlike Oliver, Nicodemus doesn't get a lot of visitors because SGO doesn't get a lot of walk-in traffic.

That could be the reason Nicodemus craves attention from the people who are usually the only ones there.

"If he isn't getting enough attention, he'll come up and help us when we're on the computer," Jim said. "He'll help us with our design work. We're still working on his skills there. He'll walk back and forth across the keyboard. Sometimes, you have to get a little bit cross with him before he leaves you alone."

But he enjoys having their shop cat.

"It's nice to have him here — especially when you're by yourself sometimes," Jim said.

"And we haven't had a mouse problem," Joshua said.

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