The Secret Lives of Distillery Cats

As craft distilling booms across America, a new generation of distillery cat is stepping into the spotlight. Brad Thomas Parsons profiles the lives of some legendary cats and introduces the new breed of blue-collar millennial mousers.

There’s no argument that service dogs, with important titles such as Bomb-Sniffing Dog, Guide Dog and Search-and-Rescue Dog, play essential roles supporting their human counterparts, but among the ranks of working-class cats there are also many roles to fill. And whether the workplace is a bookstore, bodega or barnyard, there may be no feline job title as spirited as that of distillery cat. What other job listing would include “personable, but with a killer’s instinct” as a core value in a candidate?

Barn cats often have a scrappy disposition and learn to live among chickens and steer clear of passing hooves as they hunt and climb among the rafters to find a good perch atop a bale of hay (job perks include fresh milk straight from the source). Bodega cats, those urban denizens of corner grocers, sleep among the cans of Goya beans and Entenmann’s cakes, and serve as night watchmen, always on the lookout for a passing cockroach or unsuspecting mouse. Bookstore cats seem to have it pretty easy. Their workspace offers plenty of friendly browsers willing to offer a scratch behind the ears and countless bookshelves and tables on which to sprawl. Among the cookbooks in Off Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, you’ll find a bookish cat named Mamacita. She even has her own Facebook page (and probably has more virtual friends than you).