We aren't drinkers, so I only go to Bauer Wine & Spirits* on Newbury Street to buy presents. I needed a bottle for a dinner party last week, and was happy to find Bauer's shop cat, Sofia, lounging on the counter where customers wait for help. I think she may be Back Bay's only shop cat; if there are others, please tell me, so I can visit.
I realized that I hadn't visited with her in a couple of years, since we'd acquired our own black-and-white cat. I sometimes see her in the window as I'm passing by, but she is almost never around when I'm shopping. I looked at her with added interest, curious to see if she was as sweeter, silky, and sensitive as our Lion. They look very similar with their symmetrical face masks, so I assumed she would be.
Well, she's sensitive, all right. But unlike Lion, she's not the shy type. She's a biter — always disappointing but even worse in a cat in her public position. In the store, she is an ambassador for the cat population in general, and she is surely giving customers who aren't seasoned cat people a negative impression of the species if she chomps on their hands.
Her routine is as follows: she looks friendly and approachable until she isn't. She allows petting until she doesn't. The change in her mood happens in split second. And, of course, I was perfectly polite on my side of the interchange. I greeted her first and made eye contact. I lett her examine my hand before I touched her. Then I stroked her gently just a few times. Suddenly her ears went back and she bit me — no early warning system for her.
It's to be expected, I suppose: she is a Newbury Street cat, and that street has always been known to have a few snooty salesclerks, although they seldom leave actual toothmarks. The rest of the team at Bauer is perfectly nice and helpful, but don't pet Sofia, enticing as she is.
She could be taught better behavior but it would probably be hard going now that she's a few years old and has risen into a middle management position in spite of her unorthodox sales technique.
Lion, for the record, adores long petting sessions . . . assuming you can get near him since he's shy. My husband and I are the only ones can, so far, but I can tell you that it is extremely pleasant and soothing to have him purr and knead biscuits, and gaze contentedly into your eyes as he lies in your lap.
Much more satisfying than any old bottle of wine, if you ask me.
* I know little about wine but the staff at Bauer know plenty. I ask what they currently enjoy drinking and tell them my price range. They suggest a few options, I pick the bottle with the coolest label, and we're done.