- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - When customers first step in Grundy’s Ace Hardware in Howell, most ask where Bobbi the cat is.

“That is seriously the first thing people would ask: ‘Where is Bobbi?’ ” laughed Grundy’s owner Cliff Grundy. “She was the center of attention.”

Bobbi was the store’s 21-year-old calico cat that would greet customers and expect belly rubs in return, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus ( http://bit.ly/1Tlhly5 ).

She would prance around the store and lie on top of the cash register for her daily nap.

“When she wasn’t on the counter, she was in the back room on the porch swing,” said Debbie Edwards, cashier and human resources director.

Unfortunately, Bobbi became very sick the past couple of months and “wasn’t doing well,” so Grundy put the cat down.

“It’s been hard,” he said. “She was very loved within the community and by all the store employees.”

Grundy first brought Bobbi into the store 20 years ago when his friend had to give her away.

“A friend of mine had this cat in a basement because his kids were allergic to cat dander and they thought keeping it in the basement wouldn’t affect them, but air travels throughout the whole house,” said Grundy, who said Bobbi was 2 years old when she was first brought to his store.

Ever since then, Bobbi became a pet for many in the community.

“A good percentage of our customers are older, so Bobbi was a huge part for them,” Edwards said. “Some have pets and some don’t, so this is where they get their fix.”

Some customers would even bring Bobbi treats.

One woman would make weekly trips to bring Bobbi catnip while another would bake treats for her every holiday.

On top of that, Bobbi would wait by the door every morning for her daily treat of chicken or cheese Grundy fed her.

“It was like clockwork,” he said. “She would jump on the counter and watch me cut up the food. She was a character.”

When Bobbi wasn’t eating treats or getting customers, she would patiently wait for a receipt to fall on the ground to play with.

“She would play with a receipt like it was a toy and would also love to play with rubber bands,” Edwards said.

Sometimes she would even go outside and roll around in the mulch.

“The customers would get so concerned when they would see her outside because they thought she may run away, but all you had to do is jingle keys or whistle and she’d come right in,” Edwards said. “Everyone treated her like their own.”

Edwards is going to miss Bobbi’s presence in the store.

“She was a great conversation and having her around for as long as we did made the environment that much better,” she said. “She will be very missed.”

There is talk that Grundy’s will gain another furry feline, but Edwards said they aren’t sure when.

“We can’t say too much because people always want to dump cats on us, so we will see,” Edwards said.

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Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com

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