www.montereycountyweekly.com april 4-10, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 17 Sand City Kitty Epson the cat played a similar role in Sand City, as Morty did in CVS, transforming a community. Epson has since moved to Carmel, but used to be part of the West End Celebration, a Sand City music and art festival, even inhabiting its logo. But it’s not only the festival that Epson appreciated. He used to roam about all of Sand City, gradually becoming a frequent visitor to Post No Bills, owned by Kye Ricks. “That’s definitely him,” says Ricks when shown a photo from three years ago. “He’s been around since I remember,” he adds. (The pub opened in 2009.) A dragging-his-feet, perhaps bored tuxedo cat with a black-and-white, almost yin-yang face, he started interacting with the customers especially after the pub opened its doors and windows for pandemic reasons. “He didn’t seem to like anyone in particular,” Ricks says, not without admiration. “Everybody was trying to pet him, but he was not having it. A very curious pet.” Instead, Epson preferred to lounge alone on empty bar chairs. He wasn’t there for anyone’s entertainment; it was more as if the customers were entertainment (but barely) for him. He has supposedly turned into an indoor Carmel cat, but local pubs shouldn’t be surprised if he shows up in the door, offering his aloof security services. Night Librarian The first thing you need to know about Jack Kerouac, the cat and the night librarian at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, is that he wasn’t the first one. The story really begins with HMML Director Magnus Torén’s philosophy that every library needs a cat, even though not every cat needs a library. First, that’s because of the mice, which are great connoisseurs of tasty, aging manuscripts. If one managed a medieval monastery with a library, a cat was a must. Descendants of Russian court cats still live in the State Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg; the British government used to compensate those libraries that housed cats, on the understanding that they kept rodents away. Shiny, tiger-striped Jack had a predecessor, the Norwegian Forest cat named Theo. Theo was the first guardian of the Henry Miller Memorial Library and he loved to be petted by visitors. Theo died in 2014, but Torén says cats are good at dying, as opposed to people. “One morning I got into the library and he was dead,” he says. Shortly after that, while driving to Salinas, Torén, on impulse, stopped and adopted two cats from an animal rescue. Two kittens, a brother and sister, were taken to the library. They were named Alice in Wonderland and Jack Kerouac. At first, it was Alice who was more social, always out there, greeting guests. It’s her curiosity that killed her—on Highway 1, which passes just outside the gate. After Alice’s death, Jack rose to the occasion and stopped brooding at the back of the house. “Now, he is kind of like Theo,” Torén says. Jack makes sure he comes when he’s least expected. You can see him in the sun, his eyes so green that they are becoming yellow, or you can not see him, despite walking around the library grounds for an hour. Mice at HMML remain discouraged. Felicitous Felix Felix was huge even as a baby. He was a big, healthy kitten and a brother to baby Sienna, Denise Whitlock’s human granddaughter. There are family pictures with the cat and the baby in identical positions on the bed. “He was such a loving cat,” Whitlock says. When Sienna got a little bigger, Felix patiently allowed her to dress him in queen crowns and bonnets. Then, when he was 8 years old, Sienna’s brother got seriously ill and Sienna’s parents decided to give Felix away to the shelter. Denise couldn’t take the cat then, because she already had a bunch at her home, so she gave in, but never stopped regretting. She says she was heartbroken. Felix was taken to Golden Oldies Cat Rescue in Monterey, because of their good reputation and no-kill policy. Felix soon found another lovely home, but his new human also got older and five years later, Felix was once again at Golden Oldies. And then, a miracle happened. In 2023, Sienna and her grandmother were on the adoption website Petfinder, scrolling and looking for a kitten. Sienna, now 11, never got over Felix and now, with the family situation less stressful, she wanted a new kitten again. No decision was made until Felix appeared on the screen, certainly not a kitten, but apparently tagged as such, materializing like a phantom in front of their eyes. It was Sienna who first said: “Grandma, look. It’s Felix.” Her eyes were shining. “We have to bring him back home.” Whitlock couldn’t believe her own eyes, but she agreed immediately: They had to bring Felix home. It took them a week to make it happen. Felix was a bit skittish and nervous at first, now in his senior years. But Whitlock thinks he recognized his home and his people. His only condition after the return was: no more queen crowns, please. Felix shares a household in Soledad with more cats and two German shepherds and spends his days lounging. He couldn’t care less that he became the face of Golden Oldies, part of a marketing campaign. Revered in articles and exploited in cat campaigns as a symbol of a happy return after separation, he now casts hope and love nationwide. He sleeps on top of Whitlock’s husband. Above: Felix as a senior cat, leading a peaceful existence in Soledad. This cat has had enough emotional adventures for the rest of his life. Left: Felix as a young cat with his best friend, Sienna, who used to dress him as a queen or treat him like a patient. He was always known for his angelic patience. Epson, formerly of Sand City (now Carmel), shown wandering around the tiny city of big murals. This photo was taken in 2021, right before the West End Celebration of music and art, a project that recognized Epson in its logo. Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss Courtesy of Denise Whitlock